After all the speeches are over and the confetti has been dropped, this election comes down to who would you prefer to be your king, the Warrior or the Scholar? Certain times require each, so where is America facing now? The Warrior sees things strategically with the objective being the conquest and domination of his enemies. He closely examines the parts in furtherance of his mission and, when achieved, it is considered "victory." The Warrior sees cubes, while the Scholar sees circles. The Scholar can conceptualize an issue or policy in its totality. He sees the whole rather than the parts, and not just the acts, but their ramifications. The Scholar understands that, rather than confrontation with a belligerent government as a first resort, the power of diplomacy and the application of true American ideals in the world will win us allies and partners over the long run. In other words, "you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."
The personal courage and conduct of John McCain while serving in the armed forces is unassailable. I had never heard him speak, before tonight, so personally about his experiences as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese. I'd seen the clips and read the accounts, but nothing could have been as stirring as McCain's moving description of not only his suffering, but the bravery and honor he both witnessed and exemplified in that terrible place. For enduring that alone, McCain is a great man and a true American hero. But even while McCain was being tortured in Hanoi, a groundswell of social and political change was sweeping America, rejecting the militaristic mindset that fed 58,000 members of my generation into a mindless war machine that was of both parties making. When I reflect on my personal changes between the years 1967-1973, the Summer of Love to the summer of Watergate, I can't possibly conceive what it must have looked like to a man who missed it all; the growth of the anti-war movement and LBJ's abdication, the King and Kennedy assassinations, the Chicago Convention and Nixon's election, to Cambodia, Carpet Bombing, Kissinger and Kent State. None of these events informed John McCain's world view while imprisoned in Vietnam.
Like other military families, especially generational ones, McCain was infused with Naval Academy dedication to duty. By his own admission, he went into the war and came out of it with the same military bearing, and fought in the U.S. Senate against corruption and political financial abuse only after being implicated in the "Keating Five" Savings & Loan scandals of 1989, where he was cleared of wrongdoing but criticized by a Senate Ethics Committee for using "poor judgement." Now that he has made "judgement" a major issue in this election, there was a stark contrast between McCain's words, and the image of Governor Sarah Palin standing in front of the lights that spelled out the campaign's theme; "Country First." In this case, McCain did not put "Country First" by well considering his own mortality in placing a half-term governor and political unknown within one breath of becoming leader of the free world. He put "Election First" and made a "McGovern Picks Eagleton" decision.
The Governor made a great speech, electrified the base, and established herself as a new political star on the scene. She is, however, the anti-Hillary and though I'm sure Republicans love her, it's got to be love at first sight since no one outside of the 49th state knew her name before last week. Does it sound wise that the very first time the country lays eyes upon, or hears the voice of any aspiring politician, it's during that person's acceptance speech for the nation's second highest office? At least Dubya ran for, and won re-election to a second term as Texas Governor before Karl Rove set his eyes on the White House. Governor Palin is not yet into her second year. Even Dan Quayle spent a decade in the Senate before Poppy Bush picked him as, "My Favorite Blonde." Everyone held their breath for four years and prayed for Poppy's safety, lest the "potatoe" head assume power.
Senator McCain may have chosen an engrossing new personality, but he has grossly underestimated the intelligence of women with this calculated choice. In the last post I said that if McCain had a lick of sense, he would put a woman on the ticket, but I was thinking of Elizabeth Dole, Olympia Snowe, or even Susan Molinari. I didn't mean the first one passing by. But McCain caved to the Evangelical right and picked a hyper-Christian "hockey mom" who is to the womans' movement what Clarence Thomas is to modern jurisprudence. And I'm weary of hearing voters say, "We can identify with her because she's just like us." When I vote to elect either member of the Executive Branch, God help this country if he is just like me. I don't want some slacker like me as President, I want someone smarter than me and with more discipline and dedication than me. I want someone rooted in the present with an imaginative vision for the future, and I want someone who is for peace instead of more wars, and diplomacy rather than threats. And I want someone who finally knows how to use the damned internets.
That's why, although this was the most remarkable GOP Convention in memory, I've decided to vote for the smart guy this election. So, rather than compare the candidates' hobbies and hypothetical judgements, let's compare their SAT scores. I'm voting for the guy who came from nothing to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Columbia on scholarships and student loans, rather than the legacy admission who graduated near the bottom of his class at Annapolis. I am not afraid of the word "intellectual," and I want the once president of the Harvard Law Review who taught Constitutional law to be the Head of State this time, rather than someone who seems like a good guy or looks like he/she could kick ass. I want my president to be "elite." And despite the heroic record of John McCain while in captivity, I am tired of fighting the Vietnam War. McCain has contributed honorable service to this country and is 72 years old. By any measure, this will be a change election. I hope voters can summon the will to put one-issue, divisive politics behind and move into the new century with forward thinking, accompanied with a much needed dose of humility. We are presently engaged in a world war of new ideas, so who shall lead us; the Warrior or the Scholar?