Sunday, March 23, 2008
Personal Asides: McCain Should Be Pulled Off the Road and Forced to Rest Popes Baptism of Prominent Muslim is Not Smart Forget Jeremiah WrightWhat is this Fresh New Approach Obama is Heralding?...and Black Ministers (and the Sun-Times) Want to Hike...
Off the Road.
The media say John McCain flubbed in a statement in Iraq a sort of gotcha to make up for Barack Obamas rotten week but not exactly. He said that Iran is suspected of training al-Qaida terrorists when Iran is a Shiite stronghold and al-Qaida is Sunni. But latest information including a dispatch from Jennifer Griffin at the Pentagon maintains that Shiite Iran may indeed by mobilizing al-Qaida in contradistinction to supposed tradition. No, that didnt disturb me. But McCains looks in Iraq and the way he corrected himself did. It hearkened back to the old campaign manager in me that communicated one thing; this 71-year-old is either pushing himself too strenuously or is being pushed too hard and he ought to slow down. Let this observer who was in third grade when McCain was born give some caution. (And it has nothing to do with the fact that some namby-pamby national Republicans are nervous because McCain stressed the value of the surge: they think by not mentioning Iraq he can get elected: hah!).
In the meeting with the press, McCain looked haggard and at least 110 years old. He seemed dog-tired, made his off-the-cuff statement slowly so slowly it seemed as if he were falling asleep on his feet which he may very well have been. He halted, was interrupted by a younger man, Joe Lieberman, listened dodderingly, then made the correction. A bad performance made possible only by the fact that the campaign is literally running this oldster bowlegged. It is all the more stupid since the nomination heat is over and McCain has it. No reason he should have gone yet again to Iraq. None whatsoever. The first time he went before the surge he was laden down with armor and exulted that we were winning the war which sparked late night TV quips. This time was no better.
Most good campaign managers see that when their candidate is tired, bad mistakes are made. This was not a bad mistakepossibly not even a mistake but the overall impression was one of a dog-tired candidate being assisted by a younger man: very bad. Its time to remember that Ronald Reagan, a master at pacing himself, would perform in presidential campaigns beginning when he was 69 that were the model of sane planningwith largely a 9 to 5 schedule. In fact the media vied with themselves to be accommodated because there were no hectic offhand performances, no helter-skelter running to and fro. McCain is the oldest man in U.S. history to be running for the presidency. If he cant pace himself slow down and allow for his advanced age and rest someone else should do it. Cindi McCain was evidently AWOL: she shouldnt be. If not, something may happen that is worse than a gaffe. A stroke, heart attack or anything as serious even if it is not as serious could toss the campaign into the dead letter box. If McCain would be forced to vacate his candidacy it would be, in my estimation, a terrible eventuality for the United States. Under the rules the Republican National Committee would be empowered to substitute a candidate. Most probably it would be Mitt Romney who ran second (who was always my first choice anyhow)but as it turns out McCain is the man of the hour and an interruption of the campaign could well be fatal.
Thats why somebody ought to get to his campaign manager, grab him by the lapel and ask if he intends to kill his candidatebecause it sure as hell looks like it. There was no reason to go to Iraq after he completed the cycle of winning the nomination. I dont care if it was McCains idea or not. The Iraq trip was a waste of effort which should have been used to (a) rest, rest, rest and (b) make a mature selection about the vice presidency. Running like a puppy dog next to a train, with his tongue hanging out in fatigue, is a sorry way to handle a campaign, guys. Every elderly candidate wants to thumb his nose at his age and make people marvel about his energy. Thats pure ego and should be vetoed. Only Reagan was smart enough to pace himself.
In short the McCain campaign should act its age. Seventy-one, seventy-two when inaugurated. And force if need be the candidate to take ample rest for the long haul.
Popes Baptism of Muslim.
No one has ever accused the Vatican of being astute in protecting the Pope, in guarding his personal safety (he still travels with minimum security staff) or public relations at least not since 1616 when Galileo laced his outline of the Copernican system with bitter attacks on the papacy, then skillfully outmaneuvered Urban VIII to publicize his intellectual martyrdom (when he was allowed to teach and observe the penance of reciting 7 psalms a day). In a politically savvy victimology picked up and publicized by the Reformation, he advertised a persecution which has continued to pollute history books to this day. But at least then the Vatican was suckered. Now its doing the suckering of itself.
News that Benedict XVI publicly baptized Italys most prominent Muslim, Magdi Allam, shows stunningly bad judgment for the safety of the Pontiff. Allam should have been baptized if he wanted to be, all right but not by the Pope himself-- unless the Vatican wants to institute a citywide draft and beef up membership in the Swiss Guards by 1000 percent. The fearsome possible retaliation from the Jihad is almost incalculable. Allam, born in Egypt, is deputy editor of the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper and has written often on Muslim and Arab affairs. He is a non-practicing Muslim but passing the word on that score is not good enough.
The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi said accurately that anyone who wants to become a Catholic of his or her own free will has the right to receive the sacrament. Right he isbut baptism by the Pope? Couldnt Allam have been baptized by someone elseor did we want to stick a finger in Islams eye? Baptized by the Pope when the Pope makes public appearances frequently and travels throughout the world? Already bin Laden has said that the Pope has played a large and lengthy role in launching a New Crusade against Islam. Nobody wants the Pope to be a pussy cat in dealing with Islam but baptizing a key journalist who has been identified as a Muslim isnt exactly the smartest thing to come out of the Curia which has been famous for centuries of goof-ups including placing the disgraced Bernard Cardinal Law front and center complete with TV close-ups at JPIIs funeral and sending a verifiable veterinarian quack to attend a dying Pius XII.
The AP tells us there is no overarching Muslim law on conversion. But under a widespread interpretation of Islamic legal doctrine, converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by deathalthough killings are rare. Well, isnt that comforting?
Fresh, New WHAT?
Some feel too much negative attention has been spent on Barack Obamas Philadelphia speech but perhaps not enough since Peggy Noonan thrilled in the weekend WSJ to the poetry of the oration and neglected to mention how he equated his white grandma with a raving racist black bigot but all the same some of us may have forgotten to look at the Messiahs description of conditions in the U. S. and his allegedly fresh new approach outlined the other night. At least Peggy did that.
I suppose it is requisite to energize the Democratic base by picturing America in bleak terms--but Dickensian? He sees an America as the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling the white man who has been laid off the shuttered mill the millions without health care the soldiers who have fought in a war that should never have been authorized and never should have been waged? And all of us exploited by a corporate culture rife with inside dealing corporations with questionable accounting practices triumphant because of a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests and Americans seemingly reduced to scrimping by economic policies that favor the few over the many.
In short, to be rather scatological about this, to hear him talk, were up to our asses in huddled masses. Even the depression child Hubert Humphrey I covered in Minnesota who evoked the dust bowl of the `30s didnt conjure up this view of an entire nation resembling the barren craters of the moon. But then Hubert was only a workmanlike legislator and not touted as Americas fresh young hope.
Watching Obama and later reading the text, I thought he would present skinny little bedraggled Oliver Twist standing forlornly before the workhouse master with his empty plate aloft begging, Please sir, more! with cruel old Bush-Cheney glowering and saying, WHAT? YOU WANT MORE?
And all his fresh, new vision to counteract this is: higher taxes, more investment in social programs, a tilt toward protectionism in trade and a quick retreat from Iraq? God help us.
Hike Racial Quotas for Cops.
No one doubts that the legacy of violence in the black community here is due largely to one-parent families and illegitimacy which have spawned chaos. It is not mentioned often because of political correctness (no one wants to insult the black community although Bill Cosby and others have courageously brought this issue front and center). Not necessarily many black political pastors, though, who like to prance around their stages with hand mikes goddamning guns and extraneous forces rather than focusing their message on the root-cause of poverty: illegitimacy, teen pregnancy and the resultant chaotic non-family structure where a single family head has to make a living and, overwhelmed with the effort of working outside the home and trying to rear a family, often the kids run amok. The reason so many ministers and the cynically political Fr. Michael Pfleger as well dont make a point of it is they dont want to ruffle the congregation from which their economic sustenance is derived.
The Sun-Times which spirals all black stories except this one to the front page with knock-your-eye-out HUGE railroad-style headlines and massive photos featured a protest by politically-savvy black ministers yesterday. They see as the most important item on their agenda matching the racial breakdown of Chicago 36.5% white 35.3% black 28.2% Hispanic with the numbers of patrol officers by raceand then the percentages for sergeants, lieutenants and detectives.
As if this were the most important element rather than miniscule on fighting violence and death in the neighborhoods. Which shows the newspaper to be a patronizing vehicle of pecuniary circulative self-interest.