Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm Not Laughing

When David Gergen and I sat at the adult end of the Situation Room table (this is how the younger, or at least, less experienced folk who worked in the White House, talked about our end of the table), we often had a chance to talk about the politics of the White House and politics in general. Since David had been in three White Houses—Republican and Democratic, and I had only served Democratic Presidents, I listened intently to cross political party rhetoric and agreed with him on most points. The first of which was about the “pig with lipstick” because politics—no matter party—is still politics no matter if you try to dress it up (a pig) and call it politics or leadership. Anyway, David and I had lots of opportunity to talk about how we were going to deal (from a communication perspective) with the domestic and international crises that the Clinton administration faced. So last night, when I heard David talking about the McCain ploy of suspending his campaign to lead his party into the White House and solve the financial crisis, I agreed that David was right when he indicated it was all yet another political ploy – the proverbial pig in lipstick –or if you are appalled by porcine analogies, just window dressing to try and parlay the McCain campaign into a better place.

It backfired because McCain doesn’t have the support of people in his own party. It backfired because he had no place trying to step on Chris Dodd and John Boehner. He had no role, so in desperation he asked the President to call yet another meeting – or what turned out be a photo op – to showcase his importance. He said the problem was so serious he was suspending campaign operations to rush back to Washington – but he’s not on the Banking Committee and all he did was interfere with the on going negotiations that were apparently on their way to working. Shame on him and woe is us.

What a surprise, John McCain has decided to go to the debate. It was really never a question. In the old days we would have had chickens out wherever McCain happened to be but everyone knew McCain would never allow Obama to appear as a solo speaker. Which brings us to the debate: McCain says our best days are ahead of us. Well that's easy to say if you have seven homes and a wife with a multi million dollar a year income. But what if you don’t. What if you’re a single mother or a working parent trying to pay college tuition or an elderly person with no health insurance or no way to pay for a place to live. McCain is still talking about a 300 billion dollar tax cut for people who also have seven homes. What about the rest of us? I’m listening to the blah blah blah of the debate and I’m hearing that Obama wants to make sure people have health care, can afford education and wants taxes on corporations who are already making millions of dollars. John McCain wants to give more money to his friends and tax health care benefits. Oh My.

I just don’t know who is telling the truth. McCain says look at the record and so I did. MCain has never voted for any taxes incentives for alternative energy sources. McCain has given tax breaks for oil companies, the drill, drill drill – much like the blah blah blah – I can’t understand the foggy explanations.

On a more humorous note... Wait, I’ll find one. OK, John McCain voted 90% of the time with George Bush, but now he says, “I’m a maverick and people know it”. Is that a good thing—well whatever, it’s pretty funny. “We are winning the war, we love the surge”, that’s pretty funny. “We can fight more wars and we can win them.” I’m doubled over.
“War is good—let’s have more.” He says,” there is a difference between tactics and strategy”. Why am I not laughing?

Oye. Obama says it’s not funny, 4000 lost lives, a resurgence of Al Qaeda, billions of dollars in foolish and wasteful spending and a war we should never have been in. The core issue is a Surge that (might be working) but it covered up years of loss and waste.
We need to end the war in a responsible way.

I have had to fast forward through some of the things on the debate that really piss me off – because, to be honest I know nothing about war and I’m looking for humor. Here’s the bottom line, as they say. McCain is 'old think'—traditional war, fight to the death, we won’t come home in defeat, don’t tell any secrets, let the military guys make political decisions. Obama is the 'future'—let’s make our decisions based on the reality of today, let’s fight with the people who are really a danger, let’s not just keep sending our young people to places where they don’t need to die, how do we make good judgments to prevent war. And neither of them knew the difference between the Iranian Republican guard (the Shah's armed force) and the Revolutionary guard (the Mullahs')– so let’s move on.

It’s getting harder to have a sense of humor about this candidate confrontation so lets turn look at something more amusing, the financial crisis—no agreement, no guarantee that any of us will have a home tomorrow, no way the Republican house is ever going to like John McCain. This is not funny so I guess I’ll have to write on another day—maybe tomorrow if the rain stops and the leaves change color. After all, whatever else happens we will always have change in the seasons. We're just sayin'.... Iris

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