Sunday, March 23, 2008

Personal Asides: McCain Should Be Pulled Off the Road and Forced to Rest…Pope’s Baptism of Prominent Muslim is Not Smart…Forget Jeremiah Wright—What 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 Obama’s 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 didn’t disturb me. But McCain’s 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 mistake—possibly not even a mistake…but the overall impression was one of a dog-tired candidate being assisted by a younger man: very bad. It’s 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 planning—with 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 can’t pace himself…slow down and allow for his advanced age and rest…someone else should do it. Cindi McCain was evidently AWOL: she shouldn’t 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.

That’s why somebody ought to get to his campaign manager, grab him by the lapel and ask if he intends to kill his candidate—because 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 don’t care if it was McCain’s 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. That’s 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.

Pope’s 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 it’s doing the suckering of itself.

News that Benedict XVI publicly baptized Italy’s 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 is—but baptism by the Pope? Couldn’t Allam have been baptized by someone else—or did we want to stick a finger in Islam’s 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 isn’t 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 JPII’s 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 death—although killings are rare.” Well, isn’t that comforting?

Fresh, New WHAT?

Some feel too much negative attention has been spent on Barack Obama’s 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 Messiah’s 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, we’re 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 didn’t 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 America’s 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…don’t make a point of it is they don’t 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 race—and 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.


  1. It is time for Conservatives to realize that they must support Barak Obama for president. Time and again the conservatives are told to support the lesser of the evils. Well this time the lesser of the evils is Barak Obama.

    Why? Conservatives such as myself have been betrayed by President George Bush a so called "republican" who took a golden opportunity of a Republican House, Senate, and Presidency and squandered it all. In the process he promoted big government and ballooned the deficit, increased welfare through a medicare med give away, trashed the dollar, and set into motion destructive deregulated policies that have almost destroyed the banking system. And then to try to solve the banking mess, he allows through the involvement of his Treasury secretary and Fed funds to flow in full bailout mode to Wall Street firms who engaged in highly risky and leveraged excesses. Add to that a utopian war that was built on a false foundation as a knee jerk reaction to the tragedy of 911.

    Further George Bush while spending billions to rebuild Iraq ignores the economic plight of the mid-west that has lost a massive amount of good paying jobs to his trade policies which have turned the United States in to the greatest debtor nation in history and have turned the middle class in to low paid serfs.

    Bush in league with the Democrats opened the borders to massive and expensive illegal immigration. These policies did not come from nowhere. They were skillfully promoted to this president by an selfish elite group Rockefeller Republican type intellectual people who sought to rewrite conservatism to financially benefit only a few. These policies have been very damaging to the conservative middle class who have awoke to find themselves mired in debt tying to maintain a lifestyle that is being eroded. When the elite group which includes many blinded commentators are questioned, they do not answer the questions,no they make it personal become hatefully angry and hurl one vile invective after another.

    Look at this "republican" situation and tell me it is conservative. It is far from being conservative. And here we are told we have no choice but to vote for McCain who openly was a traitor to conservatives causes and threatened to become a Democrat. We are told this is because he was angry at George Bush. Oh really? Look how cozy they were on the fated Kennedy/McCain Immigration bill they all supported, that is everyone but the American public. Can we take a Bush 3 administration in the form of McCain? NO. In fact McCain with a warring gleam in his eye only promises more wars to assuage some violent vindictive part of his nature. Do we really what this person and his crowd in control of the Republican Party, the conservative movement, and the presidency? They are ruining and perverting everything that is conservative. This rabid movement must be stopped and it must be stopped by conservatives will the guts to support Obama to break the bad cycle of Republican ruination.

    Does Obama represent all conservative values? NO but he will block the bad group that is destroying the Republican party. He will NOT continue the utopian endless war mentality. And he will not sacrifice the middle class on the alter of trade policy quick buck greed. Obama and not McCain is the lesser of the evils for the conservative to vote for.

    Let the bought off pundits scream and wail about such a stance but it is time they were taught a hard lesson that they ignore our views at their peril! We will no longer be taken for granted by an ungrateful elite who seeks to benefit only themselves.

  2. I do not think that the solution to big government is more big government. Obama would squash trade that is making midwestern industry hum like it hasn't in 30 years.

    Just back from a trip to Decatur, it is great to see Soy City thriving, not via shutting down markets, but from the huge increase in exports from the Midwest to the rest of the world.

    Exports are up 16.6% since last year. I think it is exactly the wrong time to kill trade and sacrifice actual Republican ideas to satisfy a partisan political agenda.


  3. McCain may be a bit knee jerky, but I'll take that against a Damn America Trojan Horse like Obama.

    The opening message must be a plant by Obama's people. No one in their right mind calling themselves a Conservative could hand over the reins to an Abortion Promoter. One who has a track record of zilch. One who can't even part with his evil preacher mentor.

    Give me a break!

  4. Give me a break. McCain is just as off the wall as Obama's minister. Just look at his comment against conservatives who did not support his Immigration Bill that was put together with Teddy Kennedy. Sorry Frank and John, McCain has shown is bad colors too many times.
    He is simply too unstable and unreliable to be president. The lesser of evils this time is Obama not McCain.

  5. McCain won the primary by a huge margin with full knowledge he is in favor of immigration reform. Wanting to change a system that currently makes criminals out of several million people a year so that honest people can go to work is not remotely comparable to Rev. Wright.

    McCain is not perfect, but if the worst thing you can think up against him is his record on immigration reform, he should win by a landslide.


  6. Good column, Tom. I agree with you about McCain and hope he doesn't run himself into the ground.

    My idea (could be wrong) is that if he wants to do something, he will do it, period.