The first televised generational arm-wrestling match is over. For the right was John McCain, the Grand Ol’ Party’s Grand Ol’ Man. An Ol’ Dear at Ol’ Miss. I bet the GOP wishes that Old wasn’t their middle name!
Just to clarify, though, you have to understand that John doesn’t represent the Real Right. He has sort of adopted them. John said during the arm-wrestling that he’s really a maverick who has been fighting President Bush – 10% of the time. He says he is an agent of change who will go to Washington to fight the entrenched ol’ boys network. As Barack Obama quipped, “And now he tells us that he’s the one who’s going to take on the old boy’s network…Come on…In the McCain campaign, that’s called a staff meeting.“
John, though, is really a razzler-dazzler wannabe. Don’t let that gray hair and ossified appearance fool you. He’s got more tricks up his sleeve than Houdini. Who else but a Celebrity Diva would keep a national audience holding it’s breath to see if he would really show up for the first debate. After all, he had to “ride into Washington on his very white horse” to save the country from economic ruin. (“I won’t attend until there is an agreement” on the government bailout of Wall Street, a serious-faced McCain intoned.) But you better ask David Letterman if there was really any sense of urgency to that ride. Letterman did his own sleuthing and found that McCain actually went down the street to be interviewed by Katie Couric of CBS News instead of appearing on his show. Perhaps, McCain had mistakenly gotten on one of those mechanical merry-go-round children’s horses since it took him almost 24 hours to get to Washington from New York City.
In the end, the Ol’ Dear did show up at Ol’ Miss, answering questions with half-truths and last century’s campaign jargon punctuated by mid-air judo chops and authoritative finger pokes.
Barack, the most Liberal Senator in America (hooray!), not only looked better than McCain but presented a more adult and Presidential persona. Barack was cool, efficient, direct, and authoritative, easily fielding any and all questions about Foreign Policy. This was McCain’s field of expertise? At worse, he wrestled McCain to a draw. At best, Barack won on Foreign Policy. Why? His demeanor and calm tone were accompanied by analytical references and an attitude of consensus.
And, who really wants McCain to be running our foreign policy? Do we really need more of the Bush Silent Treatment, “punishing” our enemies by not talking with them. Is that any way to pursue international relations? Further, McCain is such a maverick, making erratic choices and decisions (Sarah Palin, suspending his Presidential campaign), Lord knows what type of grandstand move or stunning pronouncement he might come up with.
Do we really want someone like that deciding that wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not enough and that we need to “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran?” And, what about Pakistan? According to John, today, Pakistan is a trusted ally. But, for all we know, tomorrow he may want to invade Pakistan. Trying to show his macho prowess, McCain tried to impress by rattling off the correct pronunciation of foreign leader’s names. What good is that if he won’t talk to them? To his credit, Barack felt no compulsion to prove his ability to say difficult foreign names, and if he had, McCain would have labeled Barack as an elitist.
Barack has crossed the threshold. The Presidential Threshold. Could he look, act, speak, respond, gesture, or even blink in a presidential way? Without a doubt. And while comparisons are odious, for all his gray hair, the war hero McCain lacks any hint of presidential charisma. Truthfully, McCain comes across as angry. Very angry. A stern task master reprimanding those under his command. And, while charisma isn’t everything (George Bush), Baracj can at least form longer sentences than George.
As a person who is part of McCain’s generation, it’s obvious to me that he has great desire to be President and has given great service to his county. But he really needs to step aside, not just for someone younger – for instance, Sarah Palin – but for someone of presidential stature. Someone such as Barack Obama.
Carl Matthes is a native of Los Angeles and has lived in Eagle Rock for over 40 years. He is a former president and a current Board member of Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance. He is a former columnist and a current advisor to the Lesbian News, the oldest lesbian publication in America. He was editor of the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) newsletter and a former GLAAD National Board member. He has also been a Board member of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Articles by Carl Matthes: