Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Invisible Man

At what point might people look at John McCain and say, okay, we admit it, we blew it, the guy has no business being president? I'm deadly serious. It's not like he's trying to hide it. What I'm talking about is the fact that he's entirely about shooting from the hip. And, of late, lying. After a while, it gets really disturbing. Calmness under fire, careful deliberation? Since when? Sarah Palin? Suspending his campaign? "We are all Georgians?" F-bombs, calling his wife a c*nt?

I have my theories, of course. As an Air Force flight surgeon -- a doctor to pilots -- I saw things when I was in Vietnam. Among them was a very clear pattern: fighter pilots are a breed apart. The same might be said -- IS said -- about surgeons. Drama, danger, boldness, self confidence: characteristics (along with occasional assholery) of both genera. Other than the fact that one group is trying to kill people and the other is trying to save them, there are common elements that lead to common patterns of self-selection. Fighter jocks differ from airlift drivers. Surgeons differ from internists. In the Officers' Club in Danang (it was, appropriately, called the DOOM Club, for Danang Officers' Open Mess), you could tell the fighter boys easily: louder, drinking more, grouped together, wearing their flight suits with fancy kerchiefs. (For the record, I have nothing but admiration for all military pilots: the ones I knew, and flew with in all sorts of planes, were smart, skilled, and dedicated beyond words. I'd trust 'em all with my life. And often did.)

John McCain, it seems, took it all deeply to heart. A party boy, a poor student, he showed a reckless abandon from the start. Had he not been the son and grandson of admirals his career might have ended before it started; but I'd guess it endeared him to his fellow fliers. The archetype of the archetype. Tough guy, fuck-you sort of a guy.

On my way to Vietnam, I, along with all others on flying status in the Air Force, stopped in the Philippines for jungle survival school. In the rain forest for a couple of nights, we were taught "escape and evasion" skills. There were lectures on what was known about POW camps, torture, and torture resistance. (I particularly recall a letter that had been sent home by a POW, slipping through censors the phrase "if he paints the house, Tell Old Richard To Use Real Enamel." (Capitals mine.) There were mock-ups of booby traps and torture devices. It was scary stuff.

It's a failure for a pilot to be shot down, to be captured, to break under the pain of torture. Fighter jocks see themselves as tough guys, invincible; they're cocky. Without really knowing what it's like, I assume it's the ultimate blow to one's view of oneself. (I remember thinking, during those lectures, that I'd not survive it. When flying in Vietnam, we were issued survival vests, which had, among other things, a file in a sleeve for sticking up one's ass, maps, a statement in several languages that our government would reward anyone who helped us, and a .38 pistol, along with a dozen bullets. The fighter jocks added a bandoleer with a couple hundred more rounds. How stupid, I thought: surviving a situation where you'd need two hundred rounds fired from a pistol? Right. I figured if I were in that predicament, I'd need only one.)

John McCain has been fairly honest about his captivity, admitting he cracked, made propaganda films, tried suicide. It's heart-rending. It's understandable, forgivable, even admirable. Is it heroic? Not, I'd say, to him; not in his heart of hearts. Which, I submit, is the problem. And he's spending the rest of his life dealing with it. Anger, vindictiveness, seeing the world in black/white, good/evil terms. Demonizing opponents, seeing those who disagree with him as enemies, as unworthy. In yesterday's debate, he reeked of derision.

This is me, unqualified psychologist, Vietnam vet, doctor to pilots. I admire John McCain for making it through those years; I'm glad it wasn't me. He deserves respect.

As a senator, he's one of a hundred, contained. Unpredictable, flighty, overly dramatic, he'd be a dangerous president. He makes me nervous: to use the medical term, he's one scary dude.

[Update: others weigh in.]


  1. Fear. I think it goes back to unresolved and overwhelming fear - and that the anger comes from the helplessness and powerlessness of imprisonment, of humiliation, of torture, of pain, suffering and the uncertainty of rescue.

    I think you got it about as good as anyone can get it, psych. specialist or not.

    As I wrote earlier, what tilted my view about some of this is from the experience last week when I met the Chief Judge for the Guantanamo Bay Military Commission Tribunals farce, and learning that he is also a Viet. combat veteran who speaks about terrorists and the boogeyman things that he is certain they will do in terms of absolutes. He harbors great fears.
    He loves his country, and he doesn't want to have anyone else experience what he experienced around violence. But his fear is what informs his views and actions, and it gets in the way - his way and our way, not to mention the harm it's doing to the Constitution and country. When fear interferes with function, that's a pathological finding and it deserves effective therapy and treatment.

    I spoke to him as a nurse, and he could hear me and responded as a patient, more or less. I wrote about it (link at my name) because the interaction tilted my view about how to go about having a national conversation about torture, and I greatly appreciated your comment about it, Dr. Schwab. I think that the principle might also apply to McCain.

    I do think that McCain is psychologically damaged and ill. I don't think his temperament is suitable for the presidency. Nor is his incuriosity and willingness to sacrifice principle for political gain.

    How they are all related in any other situation would be appropriate for only his therapist to know. But in this situation, we have a duty to ascertain it and take action based on the evidence.

    I believe that it is a real disability and that it disqualifies him from the position.

  2. Doctor, thank you for your McCain POW blog. I was just a teenager during Vietnam, but my view of McCain's war record is that by dispassionate standards, he is a survivor not a hero. While one mightbe heroic during the survval process, he really wasn't. Again, thank you for confirming something I have thought. CE

  3. John McCain has been fairly honest about his captivity, admitting he cracked, made propaganda films, tried suicide. It's heart-rending. It's understandable, forgivable, even admirable. Is it heroic? Not, I'd say, to him; not in his heart of hearts. Which, I submit, is the problem.

    That's an interesting insight into McCain's psychology. Still, we've seen more than just the debate and the anger. He has shown other kinds of poor judgment, picking Palin as VP, dishonest ads, shot from the hip calls that had him contradicting himself...

    My attempt to peek into his mind gave me this.

  4. How could I not read a blog with a title like that?!

  5. Burr Deming: I realize that raising questions about the results of his experience is, in some eyes, tantamount to disrespecting his service. I don't believe I did. I think it's a fair question to raise. And I don't think his anger stems from people not valuing his service: he tells us about it all the time, while saying he doesn't like to talk about it. Wrote books about it.

    I think his anger stems, in part, from HIS OWN sense that he did NOT behave heroically. And his bellicosity comes from the fact, as I've written elsewhere, that in his situation, everything was indeed black and white; whereas those who have served in combat on the ground know the gray zones, the horror inflicted on both sides. And that even the idea of "sides" is gray.

  6. Reading the last link in your post, I'm glad someone else out there noticed about the blinks! Obama's gaze was normal, but McCain blinked very rapidly while he was speaking, though less so when he was listening to Obama. When McCain was saying he knew what was "best for America," he blinked three times just on the word "best." He so clearly conveyed the image of someone who didn't believe in his own words.

  7. Thanks for those crucial insights into John McCain's personality. I didn't know that you knew him during the war.
    Hopefully you might be able to post a little bit about Obama's history and 'mental baggage'. Having had a father in the legal profession, and you being a surgeon not afraid to 'cut through the crap', I'm sure you are highly qualified.

  8. They say if it doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I think he has overcome a lot. Even Chris Mathews stated during the primaries that you have to give McCain credit because even though he has lost a lot...he keeps coming back...he doesn't give up.

    I won't say all the reasons I admire him because it would annoy everyone.

    It is interesting how people can see things so differently.

    Some of the things that scare you...give me comfort.

    Just because he screwed up when younger does not mean he hasn't gained wisdom and wouldn't make better choices now. and I think...sitting in a 4x6 cell for as long as he did, in those conditions...gave him ample time to re-evaluate and appreciate what is really important.

    And some of the most difficult kids can end up being leaders because they are strong personalities. It depends how that energy is ultimately channeled.

    I know I would not do some of the things I did when I was younger now. And if a person gets poor does not necessarily mean they aren't intelligent...but rather they don't make the effort...for whatever reason.

  9. "...better choices now..."

    Like selecting Sarah Palin to be a hearbeat.... Like pretending to suspend his campaign... Like flipping on pretty much his whole package from four years ago? Sorry. Don't buy it. I'll say this: it's easy to admire his positions because you name it, he's held it.

  10. I am a psychotherapist and I have major concerns about Senator McCain. I am from AZ. and have always noticed some very clear signs of PTSD. The senator is extremely reactive and unbalanced in many ways. He was severely tortured and he deserves our respect and compassion but he doesn't deserve our votes, at least not mine. I know too much about the human mind and what kind of damage has been done to him. It is so obvious to me. I wish he would release his psychiatric records. If all is well, why not?

  11. burr, to vote a man in just because you essentially feel sorry for him for going through what he did does not make sense. he will be leading your country. it occurs to me that whether he is qualified to do that may be a better measure.

    something on an entirely different topic, i hear mccain's daughter blogs for his campaign. that would be interesting, but i didn't get the address.

  12. Bongi: It's Meghan McCain at the McCain Bloghette.

    Sea Spray: While you list reasons to personally admire McCain overcoming adversity, may I suggest that citizens should evaluate candidates for elected office by their skills, education, voting and public service track records - consistency on issues and development of sustainable policy, interactions with and responsiveness to all constituents, integrity and transparency in governmental work and in political activities, etc. and qualifications for each position?

    Viewing this as a job selection process should mitigate the effects of simply liking one candidate for personal reasons.

    The selection affects every single person in the country, so it's selfish to consider only your views without carefully examining the likely impact on the country and the US around the world.

  13. Sid -

    I am new to your blog. Your analysis of John McCain is very perceptive. You not only have the psychoanalysis down, you are very good at logically dismissing the political case for McCain.

    The major impression I came away from the first debate with was that McCain appeared to feel a need to threaten anyone who disagreed with him personally or with the American foreign policy he promotes. McCain exhibited an inability to look at Obama. The often tortured body language when he spoke during the debate and when Obama verbally hit him back. His refusal to admit that talking might help diffuse a problem situation. Sadly, the ability to debate issues with the Democratic nominee did not calm McCain down, it made him angrier, an anger he did not conceal very well.

    A president needs to be thoughtful, not reactive. McCain tells us he likes to act on instinct. Alas, those instincts are warped by an aggressive personality marred by Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Those of us who have loved ones with PTSS know the damage it can cause and that recovery is measured and virtually never complete.

    Anonymous states an opinion I share: McCain "deserves our respect and compassion but he doesn't deserve our votes, at least not mine".

  14. One thing. I thought McCain was a bomber pilot not a fighter pilot. While there is some overlap in the trends of personalities for these two groups I do think the differences are enough to create a flaw in your premise.

  15. Iron Kneecap: I'd say it's splitting hairs. And there're differences between, say, flying a B-52, which is so high it sees nothing and essentially takes no incoming fire, and, say, an F4 "fighter-bomber" which in the AF (my branch) compares to what McCain flew, and which flies in low and fast, potentially taking fire, carrying bombs and missles. Those are the guys who got shot down. I'd call it a semantic dispute. There are probably better ways to disagree.

  16. Thank you for mentioning that link to McCains daughter's blog!

    I am not at all voting for him because I feel sorry for him!!!!

    Au contraire!! I find his ability to overcome inspirational! I don't feel sorry for him. He is a role model for overcoming and achieving against the odds. He could've ended up on a very different path when he came home. And he has owned up to his mistakes. Who among us has never made mistakes, embarrassing or worse? We are all human. What is important is that we learn from them and the attitude we adopt for moving forward.

    I am sorry that (his POW experience)happened. Everything in me wants to rescue him off that stretcher where he looked so vulnerable and afraid..but that was for back then.

    I initially registered as an independent but eventually went republican, which has been since 1192 elections.

    I am analytical, practical, discerning and certainly not voting for and do not swoon over anybody because they drive race cars, snow mobiles, toss a bowling ball,wear a flag, don't wear a flag,their campaigners toss vile smears at the opponent,were a POW, can fly a fighter jet,believe in God,(which they all say they do),eat barbecue, are friends with actors and actresses, etc, etc., etc.,... NONE of that impresses me! Well...o.k.,fighter pilot is really cool. I could watch those guys in the sky all day and would love to fly as a passenger. :)

    BUT...that does not cause me to want to vote a man in office to run the country and could then impact the future of our country and the world...dangerously.

    Annie, you stated "The selection affects every single person in the country, so it's selfish to consider only your views without carefully examining the likely impact on the country and the US around the world."

    Using your logic...I can turn that right around and say the same of anyone voting for Obama.

    And so I parrot your words. "The selection affects every single person in the country, so it's selfish to consider only your views without carefully examining the likely impact on the country and the US around the world."

    The number one criteria in my deciding who I will vote for is national security and our military strength and the president and cabinet that I believe will keep our military strong, not cut troops maintain a strong presence as a deterrent. Walk tall with a big stick.

    I am glad when the republicans bring up 911...because we should NEVER forget that we were attacked. They will never stop trying. And even if the war stirred up more radicals...they were there anyway. Islamic terrorists want to see the destruction of anyone who befriends Israel...a staunch ally of ours.

    We don't live in an isolationist world and unfortunately it doesn't operate with kumbaya foreign policies.

    I am not a partisan voter. If I felt a democrat would be as strong and was better for other reasons then I would vote that way in a heartbeat.

    The election season isn't over yet. Between the debates and whatever might is possible I could change my mind..but not likely.

    As far as foreign policy..There is no contest regarding experience.

    Both of their records are open for review. They should lay out in some easy format (is there one?)side by side...all they have accomplished and voted on. Hey...McCain ticked off republicans too. He has already demonstrated he will cross party lines to pass something he believes in. Has Obama? I realize Obama's meteoric rise has propelled him to the top and so he hasn't had time to build the experience McCain has.

    I believe McCain wants the best for and love's this country. I believe Obama does.

    The difference is McCain has lived through and experienced so much. Everyone knocks him for being older. What about the wisdom that comes with age?

    If you don't have a strong military/national defense...then nothing else will matter in the end.

    My understanding is that there are thousands of pages of medical records released on McCain.

    And I call myself a bleeding heart republican because I recognize that we need some social programs. We need balance. We need both parties.

    I am also pro life, but make exception for life of the mother,rape or incest. I think partial birth abortions are akin to the atrocities of the Nazis.

    Clinton recently praised McCain for his efforts and concern about global warming.

    And could someone please explain to me...(because I really do not understand this) why democrats have continually voted against offshore drilling and nuclear power plants...and then decry the republicans dropped the ball and is why we have an energy crisis?

    McCain is for these things as well as alternate sources as diesel, wind power, etc.

    I believe in less tax. Everyone says tax the big corporations. hey go right ahead. Then when said corporations move the jobs out of state or out of the country...we can send everyone out for unemployment benefits and subsidized charity care for the hospital.

    I have another question if anyone wants to take it on. Which candidate has the better health policy? I do not mean this as a gotchya question...I sincerely want to know. What do you physicians think? In the end...I am sure there would be revisions, if they could get it off the ground.

    I think it is important to put money in the hands of the public (lower taxes) so they spend and you have an economic upturn with business growth, i.e. more jobs, more things to export, more money coming in.

    I know taxes also pay the bills and there has to be fiscal responsibility...BUT...big government sucks up the taxes.

    There HAS to be reform and BOTH parties have to start doing their jobs and actually work together for the good of the country. And I think it is time the voting public starts paying attention, hold them accountable and vote the partisan at all costs, politicians (on both sides) OUT!

    The Wall street debacle is disgusting!

    And isn't it interesting that all these years...starting in the 90's with the Clinton administration (Fanne May and Freddy Mac)right on through these Bush Administration years ...all these years...they did nothing to prevent the financial disaster going on now that we...the American citizens are now going to have to pay for? And these recent DAYS both parties have come together with some plan to try to save the day? Where the heck were they before? And if they could do this now in days..then WHY couldn't any of them do anything to prevent this in a decade or so? I'm just sayin.

    And regarding his demeanor during the what! He was debating and everyone has a style or they do what THEY need to do for themselves. This is serious business leading up to the presidential elections. He was focused.

    And when Obama stuck in that "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran in there...he didn't react like I am sure people hoped he would. And I don't care if Obama interjected that jibe in is a DEBATE.

    I am a warm friendly person. I wanted McCain to look up at Obama.

    But GEEZ... I would hardly vote for Obama because he is more congenial or a better orator...any more than I would not vote for McCain because he is not. And I have seen where he congenial. he has friends on both sides of the aisle. It was a debate.

    I am looking for SUBSTANCE.

    I am praying the best man wins... no matter who it turns out to be.

    At this point in time I still believe McCain is the one... but I am not so "selfish" to want my guy at all costs. With all my heart... I do want the best one for the job in there.

    And they can both espouse all the rhetoric they want to. Unfortunately...then the lobbyists, etc., bog the Washington machine done and it becomes a tug of war.

    I take hope in the fact that McCain has crossed party lines,he has been adamant about reform in Washington for years and he chose a VP who has demonstrated the same ability. (Do I have my concerns about her? Sure..and I am anxious for the debate this week.) To me...they do bring the real possibility of change for the good of the people.

  17. easpray: you say you are looking for substance, but your entire comment is about "story" and atmospherics. Overcame. Strong.

    The question is what, specifically, is his agenda, other than fighting (whoopde doo) earmarks? Do you think his economic plan is sensible? More tax cuts? Have you considered that he says he'll balance the budget but hasn't said where he'll find 750 billion (the current deficit plus his 300 billion additional tax cuts -- NOT counting the effects of the bailout?) What substance, exactly, about his plan have you decided will work? Have you evaluated his health care plan ("Market forces") and decided that market forces have worked out fine. Does his recent statement that deregulating health insurers, "Like we did with banking" (yes, he said that) is a formula for success? Do you think that an energy plan that centers around "Drill now, drill here, drill fast" will solve our energy and climate problems? Is it political expedience or "Country first?"

    Seriously. You like him because he went through so much. Came home and screwed around and then stopped. Got involved in the biggest scandal in history (until then) and then stopped. Lies about lobbyists.

    Do you believe the Bush foreign policy of bluster, with us or against us, no negotiating has worked for us? Made us safer? Do you think McCain will differ from that policy in significant ways, or has he shown himself to be the same, only more so? (Korea, Russia, Georgia, Iran)

    And are you ignoring the facts that have been revealed about Sarah Palin and lobbyists, earmarks; her saying she'd cooperate with Troopergate and is now stonewalling? Or are those things insignificant indicators about who she is. Once again, it's a story you like. A mom, a home-town girl, who actually thinks living across the Bering Sea from the most remote and politically inert part of Russia gives her foreign policy experience? Who has lied serially about so much it's hard to keep it all straight -- the most recent being about trade missions to Russia.


    It's okay. Just say it: "it's not about substance. I like the guy for reasons I can't explain, I don't like Obama for reasons I can't, and I don't care at all about policy." Then you'd have nothing that needed clarification.

  18. Surely you jest Dr S.?


    The story and atmospherics are true!

    Foreign policy experience, military strength,(someone who has been through it KNOWS the importance of maintaining peace, the fact that he voted for the surge which was successful yet a risk for keeping political votes,the fact that he recognized early on and still does that we don't rush a pull out and risk defeat,national security,he came out against torture,pro life,(I didn't say it, but right to bear arms),

    "The question is what, specifically, is his agenda, other than fighting (whoopde doo) earmarks? Do you think his economic plan is sensible? More tax cuts? Have you considered that he says he'll balance the budget but hasn't said where he'll find 750 billion (the current deficit plus his 300 billion additional tax cuts -- NOT counting the effects of the bailout?) What substance, exactly, about his plan have you decided will work?"

    I don't pretend for a second to understand the economics other than as I already stated...I believe you don't overtax corporations if you want to keep jobs in your state and in this country. I appreciate giving money to the people so they spend the money...promoting an upturn in economic growth. I did explain this in my previous comment.

    And in the debate ...both of them evaded (5x) what they would cut in the budget. Neither wanted to commit.

    Also...we need BOTH parties working together because we need the checks and balances...keep this - ditch this and not that, etc..

    "Have you evaluated his health care plan ("Market forces") and decided that market forces have worked out fine. Does his recent statement that deregulating health insurers, "Like we did with banking" (yes, he said that) is a formula for success?"

    I don't know what to think about either plan.

    I previously asked you and other docs for YOUR opinions and said "I have another question if anyone wants to take it on. Which candidate has the better health policy? I do not mean this as a gotchya question...I sincerely want to know. What do you physicians think? In the end...I am sure there would be revisions, if they could get it off the ground."

    What do YOU think. As a physician..then you embrace his plan? Why?

    (I am sorry I don't know how to get the link to work in comments)

    Our comparison chart of all the candidates and where they stand on key health issues.

    Health Insurance
    Stem Cells

    * Coverage for Uninsured

    * Medical Costs

    * Health Savings Accounts



    Provide a variety of insurance choices, nationwide and across state lines, for people to choose from.

    Offer tax credits of $2,500 and $5,000 for families to help pay for coverage.

    Establish a Guaranteed Access Plan (GAP) by working with governors to develop a model that states could follow to assure high-risk patients have access to health coverage.

    Encourage greater competition by allowing insurers to operate nationwide. Allow families to be in charge of their health care costs and encourage market solutions such as walk-in clinics in retail outlets. Require transparency to compare prices and outcomes.

    Expand access to HSAs.


    His plan would provide universal health care coverage through federal and free-market solutions.

    Mandate health care coverage for all children.

    Would create new public program for the uninsured.

    Offer small businesses a refundable tax credit of up to 50% on premiums paid by business for employees.

    Puts focus on prevention, managing chronic conditions, and more efficient and increased use of information technology.

    Encourage transparency to allow price shopping.

    Currently not addressed in his platform.
    WebMD Special Report

    So universal health care is good? I thought you docs were against it. ?

    The republicans have been trying to get the drilling done for years and kept getting voted down. Fine. But then don't blame them for the energy crisis. (speculators don't help either)

    It is entirely possible I missed this...but WHAT exactly have the dems proposed to help solve our energy crisis that the republicans have fought against? What IS the dem solution to the energy crisis.

    Cause I'll tell you what...if republicans voted down a viable solution to maintain the party agenda instead of for what is best for the country... they should be voted OUT... unless there is a justifiable reason.

    And see...if the dems want to vote against drilling and nuclear plants...fine ...go for it...but then don't blame the other party for the crisis.

    I told you that I woke up, became distressed and said who the H is Sarah Palin and I thought "there goes the country". But since the convention..I warmed up to her. I am eager to see what happens in the debate.

    I already stated what my number one criterion is..military strength, national security, foreign policy.

    You can use the argument that she is inexperienced but she is the number 2 person on the ticket...the dem #1 is inexperienced.

    No I do not care about troopergate at this time.

    What exactly has Palin lied about?

    If these allegations are true...then wouldn't these things be spewed out through the various news mediums as gospel?

    Do you seriously...think she has my vote because she is a MOM? NO! That falls in there with racing cars, bowling and all the silly things politicians do because they hope the voting masses will will be swayed by such fluff.

    You said "It's okay. Just say it: "it's not about substance. I like the guy for reasons I can't explain,

    I don't like Obama for reasons I can't,

    and I don't care at all about policy."

    First of all...I do not dislike Obama. I do not agree with him politically for the reasons I stated previously.

    But I will throw one thing in there that does give me pause. You will vehemently disagree...but it is disturbing to think of the president of the United States having long time affiliations with men such as Reverend Wright and Louis Farrakhan, etc., in view of the anti-American ideologies they embrace.

    "America DESERVED 911" is the antithesis of everything I believe about this country...faults and all.

    I commend Reverend Wright for teaching Obama about his Christian faith. I understand Obama's reluctance to renounce his longtime friend...who was like family. I actually respected that he stood by him initially.

    I am not a mean person or insensitive to the fact that he loves the man because of their history. I also respect the fact that both of these men are doing what they believe in. I just don't agree with them and it does concern me regarding who Obama's affiliations are with.

    I do not say this with the thought that Obama has done anything wrong, but rather I say this with concern for who may influence him in the future...that could affect the direction our country takes.

    I said the following over at Scalpel's blog last week regarding Obama and I still want to know.

    "I would like someone to please lay out (sans rhetoric) exactly what it is that qualifies him to be president. ??

    This is a sincere question.

    Maybe I am wrong (feel free to correct me in the error of my ways), but when I listen to McCain (who I didn't warm up to until the Rick Warren debate/event)...I know exactly where he stands. Everyone does and can vote accordingly. He is clear and concise. He is what he is. That is what I saw that night and have since. I didn't pay attention before that. But I actually listened to Obama more than him, and while a gifted orator...I still am not clear about his issues and feel like while standing in the middle of and consulting with his 300 advisers, his finger still goes up in the wind to check the direction of the breeze."

    Dr S.,it is very much about SUBSTANCE and POLICY for me ...hence I am not ready to say uncle yet. :)

    And overcoming, achieving...does demonstrate intelligence, strength and character.

    And this country was built on sacrifice, hope dreams and visions.

    Even your candidate's campaign is espouses hope and change... which appeals to the atmospherics important to his (Obama) followers.

  19. seaspray: other than this, I'm happy to let you have the last word. We'll not convince each other.

  20. and this: here's an editorial from a paper in a very conservative part of California, that hasn't endorsed a Democrat since FDR.

  21. Thank you...but I don't want the last word. I am sincere about my questions. All of them.

    I the end...we probably have to agree to disagree.

    I will be seriously watching the VP debate as well as the others.

    I really DO want to understand the health plans.

    I read it. I don't understand the ramifications. And no matter what they bring to the will get sliced, diced and then who knows?

    I still come back to we need BOTH parties for balance.

    But we need politicians who for a change...really will work for the people... put the country first.

    No more of this blocking something good because it makes the other party look good. Take a stand. Turn down the lobbyists. I guess it's hard because they want the votes to keep their jobs and so it is self preservation over country.

    These people we elect into office are supposed to work for us...and ...for the good of the country.

    United we stand...

    I am one of your greatest fans and would follow you anywhere you write. I hope there will be another book sometime.

  22. Thank you for that referral. I appreciate the points that were made and I will take it under advisement in my considerations.

    I grew up during the Vietnam war and so fully appreciate the "scars" from that era.

    “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

    Kahlil Gibran

    Everyone needs HOPE. It is what propels us forward.

    It is my sincerest hope and prayer that the best man for the position of President of the United States, whomever he may be... will be the one taking the oath in January. The new president will have my respect and support... unless he screws up royally..of course.

  23. “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

    I don't want another "character" in the White House. I want someone who's honest, sincere, educated, intelligent, wise, and sensible.

    Someone who cares about all American citizens, and all of humanity in general.

    John McCain has gone through a lot. I don't envy him those events, nor do I discount them. But they do not add up to good judgement in the recent past or the present. Having lived through combat in a war gives him "combat experience". Having an officer's rank gives him "leadership experience". Neither of these are the sorts of experience one needs to run a country.

    And, no, Obama doesn't have that experience either.

    The ONLY experience which prepares someone to run a country is having run one previously. In that, voters could merely look at what they did in those previous circumstances.

    Since this level of experience is unattainable in our society, something ELSE has to inform our vote. That is rationality, wisdom, and judgement.

    Someone who's willing to work for the public good. Someone who's willing to discuss problems, to learn new things, and to compromise when necessary -- but stand up when a stand must be taken.

    In McCain, we see someone who's worked for corporate good, and the good of the wealthy and privileged. Someone who make snap judgements, and gets angry when questioned. And someone who's willing to compromise -- though more so on his own standards and principles than on policy.

    In Obama, we see someone who -- while he has received an Ivy League education (much like many presidents) -- used his time and knowledge to help not the privileged, but those people who needed help in the community. Someone who has demonstrated willingness to use diplomacy rather than force (or mere politics) to resolve problems.

    Bill Clinton said recently, that no one can be fully prepared to be President.

    That's because it's a unique office. There is no other job quite like it on earth. It takes someone extraordinary to fill the role.

    Our decision is whether we want someone extrordinarily good for the role, or bad for the role. Or if it's "good enough" to have someone who's "okay". Or someone who "deserves" it.

    Someone who wants to help the majority of our citizens and the world -- or someone who most wants to help his own peers (and those who elevated himself to their position).

    To me, the choice between an altruistic hoper who wants change from the disaster of the last 8 years -- and a wealthy son of privilege who has been set upon by enemies, hurt and abused, and sees much of life through the angry lenses of war and revenge -- isn't really a choice at all.


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