Friday, September 05, 2008

The Game Changer - Duty, Honor, Country

The Game has changed, and with Sarah Palin's throwing down what amounted to a rhetorical shot over the bow, the entire election has become redefined in startling clarity.

Now it truly is about change, or more exactly a kinky version of back to the future. Which future will we pick?

On the one hand,we have Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who suddenly seem a lot less novel, especially after Obama's speech at the Brittney Spears' acropolis which was nothing more than a standard Democrat class warfare and grievance list.

On the other hand, we have the electricity - and I can't think of any way to put it -generated by John McCain and Sarah Palin, something no one expected.

The candidates on both sides are throwbacks to an earlier time.

Barack Obama, for all the novelty of his background is a flashback to the hard Left academics of the early seventies. Quite simply put, it's where he came from and where he has chosen to place himself with every association he's made.Joe Biden is a rerun as well, the essence of the old line Democratic machine pol, and he complements and reinforces Obama, who learned his trade as part of Chicago's Democrat machine

McCain is a throwback in a different way, to the Scots-Irish settlers who were the shock troops of our Republic from the Revolution onward, who helped form the country's basic institutions. It's no coincidence that McCains have been found in America's career military since our War of Independence.

Sarah Palin matches him exactly, and actually brings McCain more towards his Jacksonian roots as a populist and dare I say it, a maverick. She comes to the ticket with a record of reform and taking on the status quo. She's a genuine original, in her own way, and it's no accident that she comes from America's last frontier, Alaska.

Alaska's a unique place. Because it's still sparsely populated - the big city, the one the natives refer to as 'Los Anchorage' has maybe 300,000 people in it -and still largely rural, people tend to know one another pretty well.And there's a tradition of self reliance,fair play and individualism that hearkens back to America's pioneer roots.

It's not at all unusual for kids as young as eleven and twelve to have their own boats and guns and to supplement the family food supplies by fishing and hunting. The weather has something to do with it too. In a place where not paying attention to nature can kill you, people learn early that community isn't a's a necessity. I remember the time I and a friend broke down on the Kenai Highway on the way back to Anchorage from Homer and had to hitch back into town. There we were, two scruffy looking males, and we never had to wait for more than two cars to pass before somebody picked us up.

Sarah Palin comes from small town Alaska, and it shows. She's unapologetic about her roots, and she's a type we haven't seen in our politics in quite a while. Her speech was directed at an underrepresented mainstream current in the country. She was tough, charming, poised, confident, and plain spoken, and made Obama and Biden seem artificial and even ordinary by comparison.

Even worse, she has the ability to skewer Obama on his own inflated sense of self, and to do it with humor. And it works particularly well when you have a pompous, full-of-himself opponent.

The entire country was mesmerized by her. Thanks to the dinosaur media's attempt to turn her into a white trash ogress, she spoke to an audience of 40 million people...more than tuned in to watch Barack Obama's Greek Temple spectacle. And she struck a resounding chord in her fellow Americans. At this point, she has higher approval ratings than either Obama, McCain or Biden.

The Left realizes exactly how dangerous this outspoken woman is to them, and they will go to any lengths to try and destroy her between now and November.

Picking Sarah Palin as a running mate was an extraordinary strategic coup by John McCain, something worthy of a potential commander-in-chief. With that one stroke, he achieved the reunification of a Republican Party badly shattered by the current occupant of the White House, re-energized his party's base and served notice that he was actively going to re-invent the GOP's tainted reputation by returning them to first principles...lower taxes, small government and a strong defense.

And in case anyone didn't quite get the memo, McCain underlined it in his acceptance speech last night.

McCain's never been much of an orator, although he's gotten better lately, and to be perfectly frank, the first part of his speech could have been fifteen minutes shorter.Most observers, even sympathetic ones basically looked for him to simply avoid diminishing the electricity Sarah Palin created the night before.

What we got was something very different.

McCain's speech signified a revolutionary change in direction for the GOP, and I'm amazed that most of the chattering classes missed it.

What we had here was McCain again telling the nation that he was going to bring the GOP back to first principles:

"I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.

We're going to change that. We're going to recover the people's trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics."

At that point, I started to pay more attention, as McCain outlined the small print in what that meant:

We believe in low taxes; spending discipline, and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk takers and letting people keep the fruits of their labor.

We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and judges who dispense justice impartially and don't legislate from the bench. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities.

We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans. Government that doesn't make your choices for you, but works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself.

I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them. I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them. I will cut government spending. He will increase it.

My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them. My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.

Keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs. Cutting the second highest business tax rate in the world will help American companies compete and keep jobs from moving overseas. Doubling the child tax exemption from $3500 to $7000 will improve the lives of millions of American families. Reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs will let you keep more of your own money to save, spend and invest as you see fit. Opening new markets and preparing workers to compete in the world economy is essential to our future prosperity.
McCain went on to mention the idea of investing in people as infrastructure by creating a federal program for job training for displaced workers as infrastructure, and then pulled an issue out of left field that could ignite the working class parents of America - school choice:

Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.

Has McCain figured out something that Dubbyah appears to have been totally clueless about in eight years in office, that the teachers unions and the educrats are on their collective knees in front of Barack Obama and the Democrat party? And that the curators of these madrassahs of the Left are as likely to vote for any Republican as the sun is to rise in the west, so there is absolutely no downside in bucking them by presenting an issue sure to resonate with working parents who would love nothing better than to be able to afford to send their children to the same sort of private schools the elites do?

If John McCain and Sarah Palin make this an issue and follow through, it will have far reaching effects on the very nature of the country.

McCain went on to say the expected things about energy independence, and then went on to do something I absolutely was not prepared talk about what happened to him in Viet Nam not from the standpoint of heroics, but what he learned about his own fallibility and what that taught him about patriotism:

I've been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. But I have been her servant first, last and always. And I've never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I didn't thank God for the privilege.

Long ago, something unusual happened to me that taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. I was blessed by misfortune. I mean that sincerely. I was blessed because I served in the company of heroes, and I witnessed a thousand acts of courage, compassion and love.

On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission over North Vietnam. I hadn't any worry I wouldn't come back safe and sound. I thought I was tougher than anyone. I was pretty independent then, too. I liked to bend a few rules, and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I did it for my own pleasure; my own pride. I didn't think there was a cause more important than me.

Then I found myself falling toward the middle of a small lake in the city of Hanoi, with two broken arms, a broken leg, and an angry crowd waiting to greet me. I was dumped in a dark cell, and left to die. I didn't feel so tough anymore. When they discovered my father was an admiral, they took me to a hospital. They couldn't set my bones properly, so they just slapped a cast on me. When I didn't get better, and was down to about a hundred pounds, they put me in a cell with two other Americans. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even feed myself. They did it for me. I was beginning to learn the limits of my selfish independence. Those men saved my life.

I was in solitary confinement when my captors offered to release me. I knew why. If I went home, they would use it as propaganda to demoralize my fellow prisoners. Our Code said we could only go home in the order of our capture, and there were men who had been shot down before me. I thought about it, though. I wasn't in great shape, and I missed everything about America. But I turned it down.

A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. I'd been mistreated before, but not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after I'd been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me.

When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn't know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had the honor to serve with. Because every day they fought for me.

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's.

I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.

Listening to McCain relate this, I could almost sense the audience draw its collective breath. This then became the final part of the frame around the slogan of the McCain campaign..."Country First".

This isn't the usual way politicians present their military service. Typically, presidential candidates use their service to trumpet their toughness and readiness to command. Remember John Kerry and 'reporting for duty'? McCain turned that upside down last night. It wasn't his heroism in war that makes him ready to command, but the horrors of war he experienced that made him realize that this country is the greatest on earth, and why it's worth fighting and if need be dying for.

You wouldn't find John McCain answering a 7-year-old's question about why he wanted to be president by saying that the country isn't what it used to be.

McCain, as he relates, was a selfish, self-centered man until he was broken by his captivity. It was the ideal of America that saved his life, and gave him his rebirth, as America's humble, imperfect servant.

And to end the speech, in an electrifying moment, he urged his fellow Americans to join him in a fight for their country, for the ideals and character of a free people, to defend the country from its enemies, and for their children's future.

Such expressions of patriotism are considered rather unfashionable in certain quarters, and McCain's speech drew a fair amount of disdain from the usual subjects. It remains to be seen whether ordinary Americans differ with that opinion. A fair amount of them saw the speech and will make up their own minds in time.

One thing that isn't in question is that this election is about change, or more accurately, which version of our past we want to revisit. Are the old virtues that created our beloved Republic outdated? Are we prepared to take another vacation from history, or will we embrace it?

There is an opportunity here to choose not only a president, but our national destiny.

We'll know in November.

UPDATE: heartfelt thanks to everybody who pointed out the embarrassing typo in paragraph 4! Color me redfaced...I should know better than to try and finish something in a hurry...


Ymarsakar said...

So I take it you like her more than you do Bush? ; )

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello Ymarsakar,
Yes, I do.

For that matter,I like McCain a lot more than Bush,however much I disagree with him on some issues.

I only wish he'd been the man in the White House when 9/11 hit us.

All Best,