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Change Agents?

The news that has been streaming out of Washington, D.C. and its sister-city-for-a-week, St. Paul, has been truly bizarre. From the Republican Party nominating a senior citizen who has spent twenty-six years entrenched in ‘business as usual’ in the nation’s capital and calling him an agent of change, to President George Bush vowing to punish Russia for its invasion of Georgia, the Twilight-Zone atmosphere of what passes for political discourse in the U.S. gets curiouser and curiouser.

Senator John McCain, the aged Republican senator from Arizona, attempted to display his self-proclaimed image as a ‘maverick’ by choosing an unqualified, unknown, raving right-wing lunatic as his running mate. His goal, as Governor Sarah Palin stated when she was first introduced to a stunned nation, was to capture the dissatisfied Democrats who had supported New York Senator Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination. The fact that Governor Palin and Senator Clinton are light years apart on all the issues seemed unimportant to either Mr. McCain or Mrs. Palin. Democrats, they seemed to believe, wanted to vote for a woman, any woman, so Mrs. Palin would do.

Mrs. Palin, it seemed, was to be the miracle woman of 2008. Not only would she bring in millions of disaffected Hillary supporters, she would also secure the conservative base for the GOP. So, the reasoning (if such a bizarre thought process can be called that) seemed to go, Mrs. Palin would draw the Hillary voters who support abortion rights, gay rights and gun control, and at the same time bring in the conservatives who have long had their suspicions about Mr. McCain. These are the people who oppose abortion rights, gay rights and gun control. One wonders if, during the six colleges Mrs. Palin attended in a six year period, she did not major in magicianship.

Regardless of what Mr. McCain was thinking, he and Mrs. Palin have now accepted the nomination for president and vice-president of the U.S. The presidential nominee stated that he and his running mate will reform Washington.

One wonders why Mr. McCain waited twenty-six years before deciding that things in Washington need to change. Certainly at some point during the last disastrous eight years he could have made a stand against the crimes and injustices of Mr. Bush. On the rare occasions that he did so (such as his initial opposition to the Bush tax cuts which can be seen as daily Christmas for the rich), his resolve did not appear too strong; John McCain the presidential candidate curries favor with the rich by now supporting the tax cuts, and plans to make them permanent if elected president.

Mr. McCain angrily denounced those who focused on the teen pregnancy of Mrs. Palin’s daughter, proclaiming that the vice-presidential nominee’s family was a personal situation, not political, and completely out of bounds during the campaign. Then he blatantly showed them at the convention, publicly shaking hands with the teen who is the father of Miss Palin’s unborn child and parading the family around like a circus side-show.

Ironically, during his long tenure in Congress, Mr. McCain has consistently opposed pregnancy prevention programs, sex education and contraception. When asked his position on Mr. Bush’s policy of promoting abstinence, he said that he supported it.  As recently as 2006 he opposed a Democrat-sponsored bill that would have spent $100,000,000.00 on pregnancy prevention programs that would have included education about contraceptives. Even discussing such topics seems to make the elderly senator uncomfortable.

But, one asks, why should he discuss them? Mr. Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, stated during the Republican convention that “this election is not about issues.” Now, let’s see: with the nation bogged down in two costly wars, neither of which is going particularly well despite the numbers of innocent people the U.S. kills; with unemployment at a five-year high; with a record number of homeowners either delinquent with their payments or actually in foreclosure; with 47,000,000 Americans lacking health care, this election is not about issues. What, one might ask Mr. Davis, is it about then? “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” Whatever on earth that means.

The disdain with which Mr. Davis treats the serious issues facing the United States is somewhat reminiscent of Mr. Bush’s equal disdain for facts. Oops, it appears that Mr. McCain has missed an opportunity for the change he plans to inaugurate.

Mrs. Palin too has her own ideas about how to bring about change. She recently encouraged her devoted listeners to ask God for a pipeline across Alaska. Apparently He is more concerned with corporate profits than with the polar bears and other animal and plant life He created. One is disillusioned indeed if one believes that even God has His almighty eye on the bottom line.

In the same vein, she has stated that God supports the war against Iraq. She did not bother to explain how she knows that interesting fact, and one is almost too frightened of the possible response to ask her. But one can be sure that if she wears a cap with the letters ‘WWJB’ (‘Who Would Jesus Bomb’) on it, the letters underneath those initials would spell ‘Iraqis.’

Back in the Washington Mr. McCain is now so anxious to reform, his hero, President Bush, has been once again making astounding statements. A recent story from the Associated Press informs us of the following: “President Bush is poised to punish Moscow for its invasion of Georgia by canceling a once-celebrated deal for civilian nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and Russia.” The article goes on to say the action is merely symbolic, since the deal was not popular among Congress and wouldn’t have been enacted during Mr. Bush’s reign of terror anyway. But the action ‘sends a message’ to Russia that its invasion of Georgia is not acceptable.

Does anyone recall any Russian symbolic wrist-slapping of the U.S. for its invasion of Iraq? Perhaps it is not the invasion of Georgia that has so vexed Mr. Bush; perhaps he is still smarting from the fact that Russia was right to refuse participation in America’s Iraq debacle and the U.S. was clearly, deadly wrong. Either way, his ‘righteous indignation’ today would be farcical if not coming from such a dangerous individual.
But Mr. Bush, thank God (not Mrs. Palin’s god, the one who is busy installing pipelines and supporting wars), is almost at the end of his eight years of plunder. The Democratic presidential candidate, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, has been using the slogan ‘Change We Can Believe In,’ for months now. With a scant four years in the Senate he cannot be seen as an enmeshed insider. Mr. McCain, with twenty-six years in the Senate, would have the U.S. voter believe that it is he who can and will usher in a dynamic new age of change. And doesn’t his selection of wide-eyed, right-wing zealot, Sarah Palin as his running mate prove that? Golly, he’s such a maverick!

Unfortunately, it is not a ‘maverick’ that the U.S. needs at this desperate time. Neither is it an inexperienced, reactionary vice-president who can only further disgrace the U.S. on the international stage. Mr. Obama may not be able to usher in the Utopia that so many of his followers seem to believe in, but at least the possibility of some positive change would exist under an Obama administration. A McCain administration would only prolong the agony of the American people, and the world. If Mr. McCain were truly an agent of change, those behaviors would have been seen long ago. That they haven’t cannot be hidden by all the talk of change the candidate now proclaims. One hopes that Mr. McCain’s obvious low opinion of the intelligence of the U.S. voter is not validated on Election Day.

 

 

 

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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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