Now that Barack Obama’s lead has been all but squandered going into his own party’s convention, people seem to be noticing John McCain’s personality and the new life of his campaign. The Obama campaign has been sputtering for about a month now, but last Saturday’s “Saddleback Showdown” with mega church pastor Rick Warren was where Mr. McCain has looked at his best.
There is little question that Senator McCain was the winner of a forum that was based on issues such as abortion, Supreme Court justices, and the common conception of evil. It was an event that any national Republican is destined to shine. While Mr. Obama stumbled over whether life begins at conception (or at delivery or after a botched abortion), Senator McCain wasted no time in replying that life begins at conception. Even though it is Mr. McCain who has abandoned a family, something Mr. Obama has experienced personally, he won the debate on values and morality. John McCain’s winning performance may not have won the senator my vote, but it illustrates how he is the candidate currently winning on the basis of personality.
Republicans have been whining ever since it became clear that the freshman senator from Illinois was going to be the Democrats’ nominee that his primary victory was based on his personality. When the Republicans realized that were stuck with a worthless, liberal candidate, they began barking like starved dogs that Mr. Obama’s only appeal was his personality and tremendous oratorical skills. True, when he has a prepared speech and a pre-approved liberal crowd, Barack Obama rhapsodizes with the best of them. But those skills alone frightened Establishment Republicans who cheer for only Team Elephant because they realized they were stuck with a candidate whose favorite pastime was voting with Democrats and giving them the finger.
Interestingly, during John McCain’s best week of national polling, Republicans now seem to be enamored by their candidate’s personality. For weeks and months, talk radio and neoconservative magazines such as “National Review” and “The Weekly Standard” have been clamoring about John McCain’s war service, patriotism, and the senator‘s “The surge is working” line. For people whose main concern is the war in Iraq, not illegal immigration or taxes, this is only natural. Only a few months ago on “National Review Online,“ one of their contributors made up 10 reasons to vote for John McCain and not one had anything to do with any real policy. One of the author’s very carefully researched reasons was that John McCain’s name is remarkably close to the fictional action hero John McClane of the “Diehard” movies. So, despite their rantings about Barack Obama, the Republicans have emphasized a cult of personality around Mr. McCain.
One of the major reasons why John McCain won the forum on Saturday night comes from the experiences of his life. Stories included his P.O.W. time, his failed first marriage, and the adoption of one of their children. They were all warm stories, but there were no detailed plans at the forum, just like on the campaign trail. It was about John McCain the person, not the potential commander-in-chief. Sound familiar?
If you need further proof just listen to talk radio, watch “Fox News” or read any of the neoconservative publications. The majority of their enthusiasm for the Arizona senator are his patriotism, five years in a P.O.W. camp, and his countless scripted trips to Iraq. One party lionizes their candidate because he represents “change” and a slightly different skin color while the other party props up their candidate because his life has been turned into a TV movie. Do the Republicans detest the cult of personality or not? Or is it just when they don’t seem to have a good enough story on their candidate?
Make no mistake about it, Barack Obama would make a terrible president. He personifies how Chicago corruption can prop up an unknown candidate with no core values, other than the ones adopted by the audience to which he is speaking. John McCain has no real core values either, aside from waging war forever. For an alleged foreign policy expert, he knows remarkably little about world events. What he is passionate about is the military and his life narrative, as the Republicans continually promote.
So this is what American politics has boiled down to. Barack Obama does not actually represent change because he is a big government statist, possibly a socialist, who will wreck the economy through needless intervention. John McCain would be the second consecutive Republican president who is woefully ignorant of world politics. As tired as most Americans are of what George W. Bush has done, the majority of people are merely fooling themselves into thinking that America will be better from 2009-2013/2017 just because President Bush has left for Texas. Barack Obama is going to raise taxes and intervene in domestic affairs and possibly in foreign ones too. John McCain will possibly be less invasive domestically but expect bombing in Iran by the time he becomes president. The United States faces grim prospects for the next four to eight years and the biggest reason for that is the cult of personality. One side does it just as much as the other.
Shall we elect someone because they’re half-black and has a nice voice or shall we elect someone because he is militaristic and spent five years in a P.O.W. camp? Perhaps in 2012 we should forget the elections and simply vote between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.