Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is Cohen back from the Village?

In Greek mythology, as Odysseus is returning home after the Trojan War, he and his men land on the island of the Lotus Eaters and fall under the narcotic-like spell of the Lotus, losing their focus and desire to even return home, caring only about sleeping and eating more Lotus. Odysseus realizes what is happening, and props his eyes open with wood splinters and drags his men back to the ship, where he ties them to the rudder benches to keep them from swimming back to the island.

I feel like our M$M has eaten the lotus flowers offered by John McCain and fallen under his spell, unquestioning and compliant, meekly extending a paper plate at a barbecue and asking "please sir, may I have some more?"

So you could have knocked me over with a feather when I donned my full-body condom and headed over to read Richard Cohen today, and found that he appears to have pried his eyes open and offered some honesty and an almost-apology for eight years of media fealty.
In 2000, I boarded John McCain's campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express, and, in a metaphorical sense, never got off. Here, truly, was something new under the political sun -- a politician who bristled with integrity and seemed to have nothing to hide. I continue to admire McCain for those and other reasons, but the bus I once rode has gone wobbly. Recently, it veered into the mud.
A reprentative of the M$M admitting he has been in the tank for the republican nominee for the last eight years? This should be on the FRONT PAGE, rather than A15.
I have in mind McCain's charge that Barack Obama is the favored presidential candidate of Hamas. The citation for this remark is the statement of Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas political adviser, who said, "We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the election." Yousef likened Obama to John F. Kennedy and said that Obama "has a vision to change America" and with it the world. Yousef apparently got so carried away that he forgot that Obama has repeatedly called Hamas a "terrorist organization."

McCain seems to have forgotten that, too. His campaign has sent out an e-mail showing how guilt by association really works. "Barack Obama's foreign policy plans have even won him praise from Hamas leaders," it said. The message went on to claim that Obama's foreign policy positions have earned him "kind words" from Hamas.

Never mind that this was the sort of campaigning that McCain vowed to eschew. More to the point is what McCain said in his own defense. Not only was Yousef's praise of Obama "a legitimate point of discussion," he said, but everyone should understand that McCain himself will be "Hamas's worst nightmare." This aspect of McCain is my worst nightmare.

WHAAA??? Someone check Richard's vitals. He is bordering on journalistic integrity here and is liable to have an allergic reaction of anaphylactic proportions. Someone at the WaPo better have an EpiPen at the ready.

But it gets better! He actually raises a valid point! (I know! My jaw hit the floor too!)

At 71, McCain would be the oldest man ever elected president, and so age has to be a consideration. My concern for the moment, though, is not McCain's physical age but his intellectual age -- his willingness to revise his views and grapple with the new. Thus far, he has shown scant desire to do any of that.
Some of us have been saying this so long and so frequently that we sound like a broken record. Good to see our theme being championed by the M$M.
He's been running around the country costumed as a George W. Bush conservative. McCain's tax plan is a joke, and his foreign policy is frightening.
About time someone said it out loud through a big microphone.
When McCain says that he would be Hamas's worst nightmare, what in the world is he talking about? Almost on a daily basis, Hamas launches rockets into southern Israel, occasionally killing some poor soul. The latest victim was a woman of about 70 who was killed yesterday. Israel usually retaliates, and Palestinians -- some of them just as innocent as the Israeli victim -- are killed. You would think that Israel would be Hamas's worst nightmare, but aside from the occasional -- and fruitless -- retaliatory raid, it cannot figure out how to stop Hamas's deadly activities. What would McCain do that Israel has not?
Count me among those American Jews who would like an answer to that question, too. Be specific, and show your work.
McCain supports the Iraq war. But Iraq is still a mess. Iran has gained influence there and elsewhere in the region. Syria and Iran together have made Hezbollah, another terrorist organization, an important, if not dominant, factor in Lebanon. What would McCain do about this? Would he bomb Hezbollah? Israel has already done that. Would he occupy southern Lebanon? Israel has done that, too. Has he noticed that all this military force has accomplished next to nothing? What are the particulars of the nightmare he has in mind for a good chunk of the Middle East?
See my response to the paragraph above, about wanting an answer and showing the work.
I hate to say it, but Yousef has a point. The Middle East desperately needs supple minds that are not mired in the past. I look at Gaza and don't know what to do. I have supported Israel in its policies there, but I have to admit that nothing has been gained from the non-recognition of Hamas. War doesn't work. Isolation doesn't work. For Israel, leaving Gaza didn't work, and, surely, McCain's threat to Hamas will not give it a headache -- a belly laugh is more like it.
No kidding. No one is without sin in the middle east mess, including the Bush administration that pushed for elections that Hamas won handily. Everyone seems all too willing to "forget" about that part, and it brings to mind an old saw about having ones cake and eating it, too.
The most admirable of McCain's qualities -- his life story, his integrity -- make him particularly well suited to accomplish the next president's primary task, restoring the American people's trust in their government. But ideas matter, and on the Middle East, McCain not only has little to say that is interesting but, in his swipe at Obama, a distinctly ugly way of saying it.
Richard isn't ready quite yet to scrutinize the life story (the five lost planes, and the piss-poor performance at the academy that would have made any other cadet or junior officer a washout but McCain had two generations of Admirals smoothing the bumps along his path) and the integrity (Keating Five, lobbyist connections, adultery) but he does seem to be showing signs of rubbing the sleep from his eyes and making his way out of the pack.

Don't get me wrong - he is still one of the biggest idiots in the Village, but for now he seems to be showing signs of shaking off the media mancrush. We aren't holding our breath for a "come to Jesus" moment (yeah, if I wasn't a Jew I would go to hell for that metaphor) but we are hopeful that his condition is treatable.

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