Friday, September 12, 2008

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO, CA for Sept 12, 2008

Dangerous Dreams

There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.
Andre Ledru-Rollin

In a recent commentary titled, “McCain’s clarity vs. Obama’s nuance,” Sally Quinn of the Washington Post, wrote of a recurring dream she had as a child. An earthquake had happened and her “father, his body a horse with wings, swooped down from the sky, kneeled so [she] could jump on his back and flew away . . .”

For her, it was a comforting dream from an earlier time when all fathers had wings and the complicated scary problems of the adult world could be solved with the appearance of a flying chevalier. For Quinn, that world was personified by candidate McCain during his “interview” with Pastor Rick Warren at the recent Saddleback College forum. McCain played to the crowd with snappy sound bites, exuding confidence and absolute certitude --a warrior with wings -- and at the end of the interview, writes Quinn “. . . I was curled up in a fetal position in my chair, wrapped in a mohair throw, practically sucking my thumb.”

By contrast, candidate Obama’s answers left Quinn in a far different chair. His answers were loaded with complex nuance, no certitudes, just more questions, more choices, “Obama’s world can be scarier. It’s multicultural. It’s realistic. . . . It’s honest.”

And she then penned an amazing cri de Coeur that is undoubtedly also resonating secretly throughout the country in so many other hearts: “I would rather live in McCain’s world than Obama’s. But I believe that we live in Obama’s world.”

What’s so astonishing to me is that such an incredibly sophisticated, Washington-wise, politically savvy woman would have thought, even for even a moment, that McCain’s World ever existed, except in dreams. There was never a time when the world was that simple. That’s the stuff of fairy tales and Hollywood Movies. And a corporate manipulated media, a sound-bite-driven politics and a dumbed-down, deliberately polarized electorate that allows itself to mistake reality for a sit-com world where problems can be pitched and solved in 25 minutes.

Worse yet, we groom, massage, manipulate, market-test, package and sell our presidents like soap. John McCain has voted with President Bush 95% of the time, yet he’s being portrayed as a “Maverick.” Mavericks don’t consistently do anything 95% of the time. Barack Obama’s career and voting record show him to be a cautious, collaborative, incrementalist, yet he’s being presented and peddled as a wild-eyed reforming barn burner.

And the voters who too often buy into these phony images always get the surprise of their lives after the election. “Defeat Evil” is not even possible in this sinful world. “Drill here. Drill now” is not a coherent energy policy. “Mission accomplished” is not an accurate statement, let alone a competent battle strategy. Those are advertising slogans used to sell product. And only in the world of advertising would a photogenic, caribou-shooting, “soul-mate,” Hocky Mom, barely two years into her second year in public office as governor of a lightly populated, anomalous state, be offered up as a President-Ready Veep of the most powerful nation on earth, a nation beset with Obama-World complex and nuanced problems that cannot be solved by a Republican-base, Karl Rovian, McCain-World wedge-issue platform of God, Guns ‘n Gays.

Obama World – the real world in all its tiresome, scary, shifting, complex, nuanced, incremental realities – has always been with us. It is the stuff of our nightmares. It is the stuff that causes us to dream of Warrior Daddies with Wings coming to save us.

But the only wings we have ever had are our own wits, our own willingness to think hard, work hard, and make sound judgment calls in everything we do, knowing that in this democratic society, it is the citizens – not their clay-footed elected representatives – who have the power to change anything. It is the citizens who must understand the nuance in that ever-changing reality and be prepared to make some complicated pragmatic tradeoffs in order to keep ahead of a Real World that constantly offers hundreds of options at lightening speed, and if the choices made are the wrong ones, gives no quarter and takes no prisoners.

There are no wings in that world, except our own. And that is enough. It’s always been enough. We forget that at our peril.


franc4 said...


Before the vultures get to you I would like to say something.

Being kinda so-fist-o-cated person yourself, I hope you aren't one of these folks when you said;
"And the voters who too often buy into these phony images always get the surprise of their lives after the election."

I think most realistic folks take what is said (promised) by candidates with a "grain of salt"...(another one of them "lipstick on a pig" phrases.)

Also, how come you didn't mention Joe Biden? Obviously you don't think much of Saras' qualifications and it would appear you prefer Obamas plans, promises and whatever.

Just wonder why you think you wouldn't be one of them folks who "get the surprise of their lives after the election." if he is elected.

Maybe McCain calls himself a "mavrick" because he doesn't vote party lines and is not afraid to support Dems at times.
...and what's wrong with voting with you boss?

Billy Dunne said...

Olduffo/Coalbus/Franc4 says:

Maybe McCain calls himself a "mavrick" because he doesn't vote party lines and is not afraid to support Dems at times.

To which I say: huh?

"According to Congressional Quarterly's party unity scores, which track how often members of Congress side with their party on key votes, over the course of his career McCain has voted with his party 84 percent of the time—not the highest score in the Senate but hardly evidence of a great deal of independence. Similarly, the American Conservative Union gives McCain a lifetime rating of 82.3, making him a solid friend of the right's. And according to the widely respected Poole-Rosenthal rankings, McCain was the eighth-most conservative senator in the 110th Senate."

And John Mccain 2000 and JM 2008 are 2 entirely different birds Olduffo. Do a little research.

That "maverick" BS is simply a media fabrication because the media loves that kinda stuff.

"There is one other key factor to understand in the making of the "maverick" myth. Look at the times when McCain has differed with his Republican colleagues, and what you find is that in almost every case, the position held by most in the GOP was broadly unpopular with the public. Campaign finance reform, regulation of tobacco, even the Bush tax cuts (to which the public was indifferent and which McCain could hardly support, having criticized them as Bush's opponent in the 2000 presidential race)—in every case, the position McCain took put him on the right side of public opinion. So what the press calls "maverick" stands could just as easily be interpreted as highly political efforts to maintain McCain's strong popularity with the general public."

Check out a book by Matt Welch called "McCain: The Myth of a Maverick."

And it wouldn't be an Ol duff post without one of these:

"Also, how come you didn't mention Joe Biden? Obviously you don't think much of Saras' qualifications and it would appear you prefer Obamas plans, promises and whatever."

Duh? You think?

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Shark Inlet said...

One of the better articles I've read recently is about Sarah Palin and her interview with Charlie Gibson. See James Fallows from the

Churadogs said...

Voters can always be surprised by the pig in a poke they often buy (with or without the lipstick) What is so troubling is the handling of a candidate like it's a box of soap -- packaged, carefully handled, presented, the often amazing lies that are repeated and repeated until the Big Lie becomes the truth to too many people. An awful lot of people do NOT look behind the slick campaign material, could not tell you anything about the candidates voting record, for example, except for the talking points being put out.

Also, there are several books out now examining the fact that most voters vote using their lizard brain -- they get a gut snapshot based on various emotional cues, rather than paying much attention to issues, voting records, past history & etc. And a wily candidate will play to that lizard brain using simple hot-button words, even if they're totally at odds with the candidates' reality, history or record. You saw that in the Saddleback "forum." McCain playing to the crowd with buzz-words and nobody stopping to ask, Yes, but what in the real world, does that actually mean and what will it entail." Nope. Short, snappy, hot-button, crowd-rouser, punchy slogans. They ate it up with no attempt to "nuance." Obama nuanced and they didn't like that. That was too, well, French, too "schoolmarmish," too Intell-ek-shual, eeeuuuu. The lizard brain doesn't like nuance.

The rapt look on the face of the Republican convention goers as they watched Palin was also really interesting -- they were FANS -- instant fans becasue she came out of nowhere, they weren't familiar with her "films" so to speak-- and yet they were entralled and the reporters were picking up really interesting comments to the effect, We KNOW (how, they didn't know bupkis about her)she's going to be wonderful, she IS this or that (repeating campaign talking points, having no actual factual information to support the claims), we KNOW she's ready to be President (again, they don't know anything of the sort) and such like, like they'd known her for years and were refering to that long familiarity and long record. Which, of course, was nonsense. What you were looking at was the Instant Rapture of a new fan, with no facts to back it up. You also saw a lot of Love Me Love My Dog from party officials and other republican politicians -- We HAVE to be enthusiastic about her, the deed is done, and we have to put a good face on it, this even from seasoned old pols who you KNEW knew better. It was fascinating.

The problem with "gut" picks is they are often misplaced. People really liked the Bush-I-Can-Have-A-Beer with. But what they should have been thinking about wasn't that beer, but Bush's history, record and the team running him -- Everything that has happened over the last 8 years is all there in his past record -- the cronyism, the hands-off CEO "style" the intellectual laziness, the immature, sadistic, bully boy swaggering, the disengagement, the stubborness (I see Bush as a dry drunk, not a recovering alcoholic,and that's a bad place to be for a comander in chief)etc, etc. All those things were fine in a Texas governor or a small town mayor, but in the White House? No.

franc4 said...

billy dune or whoever you used to be,(since you have been around for a while if you remember oldduffo/ in a past life)

Wonder what name you were using back then....or are you just a new Mike/REAprasor/LoTaxPayer? If you keepposting under your new name, it won't be hard to peg you.

You never have or ever will understand my sense of humor or sarcasm . Lighten up, already.

franc4 said...

Shark sez;

"One of the better articles I've read recently is about Sarah Palin and her interview with Charlie Gibson"

Franc4 sez....WHY?.....Fallows a Democrat or what?qhtds

Shark Inlet said...


By referring to Palin as a pig in a poke you are clearly a sexist ... um ... pig. :)

Seriously, folks taking umbridge at a common phrase is just plain silly. On the other hand, to mischaracterize a sexual abuse prevention program as a "comprehensive sex education" program for kindergarteners is downright offensive ... period. Anyone who views this as anything less than reprehensible, please speak up now. I can still imagine someone being willing to vote McCain, but you've gotta admit that this sort of low-life behavior really makes you a bit uncomfortable voting for the guy who approved the message.

To Franc, it doesn't matter whether Fallows is a Democrat or a Republican or a Martian ... he is right. Someone who had an interest in foreign policy in the last ... um ... six years ... would know what the Bush Doctrine is. That Palin didn't simply shows she isn't ready now to be vice president. She might be in six months, but she isn't now.

Churadogs said...

Great essay in the latest Time, I think, by Joel Kelin? maybe (tore it out and mailed it to a friend so don't have it in front of me) The point he makes is this: Americans like a good story. Not programs or plans or details or connecting the dots or understand actions and their consequences or any of the real hard work of actually governing. Nope. A good story. And never mind if the story is a phony. Not a problem. Just give 'em a good story and they'll follow. And the McCain/Palin Road Show is givin' 'em a good story. a retelling of the fantasy about a small-town America full of bootstraps and white people (none of those "urban" "french-looking" mixed breed types) stalwart yeoman farmers who shoot their own game for the dinner table, folks full of get up n' go, Can Do moxie! THAT's AMERICAN!

Never mind that that America disappeared years ago. doesn't matter. In hard times, a failing middle class, an increasingly impoverished working class facing no jobs, that's the fairy story they want Daddy and Spunky Mommy to tell them again and again, and that's the story they'll fall for -- again and again.

franc4 said...

" that's the fairy story they want Daddy and Spunky Mommy to tell them again and again, and that's the story they'll fall for -- again and again."

...and what about the "story" from the other side.....more true to life and believable, even?

Churadogs said...

Actually, Obama's "story" is an interesting one: America, this election isn't about Me (Obama) it's about YOU. What you want, what you need to do to see you get what you want, it's up to you.

Instead of Daddy & Spunky Mommy who are going to go to Washington and set things right, Obama's story is asking Americans to get off their butts and start making the change ourselves. His campaign slogan (one of them) was fascinating: "We are the change we've been waiting for," That puts a whole different shift of focus. It's an equally false fairy story unless Americans individually make it true. The culture of Washington will not change until, unless individual Americans make it happen. That's the reason I used the epigram I did to lead the column. If Obama gets to Washington (with enough like-minded legislators to do the actual hard work of crafting laws to make those changes) AND the active support of Americans willing to make changes and bite the bullet themselves, things may happen. If he gets to Washington with a Republican held congress that's still drinking kool-aide, he'll be eaten for lunch, corporate interests will remain in control, the American people will get more cold gruel with flies on it. And if that's fine with them, then that's what they'll get.

What Americans don't seem to realize is THEY have the power to create the kind of country they want to live in -- THEY -- not some Daddy/Mommy/Savior. It's always been that way.

franc4 said...

What Americans don't seem to realize is THEY have the power to create the kind of country they want to live in -- THEY -- not some Daddy/Mommy/Savior. It's always been that way."