Reflections on the Presidential election
I've become more optimistic lately about a Democratic takeover of the White House in November. I've always been a bit of a pessimist, and have been fearful until recently that Barack Obama didn't have a chance to defeat the Republican candidate, John McCain.
But McCain is coming across like a doddering old man far removed from the realities of the nation's serious problems. It takes one to know one, since I am a doddering old man myself. And I'm a decade older than the Arizona senator. But I do hesitate to disparage McCain because I had once admired him as an amiable politician with integrity.
McCain evidently doesn't know the difference between Muslim Sunnis and Shiites--an issue that is basic to an understanding of the Iraqi situation. Nor does he appear to know that Iraq and Pakistan are not neighboring countries, and that that the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan--and not Iraq--is the primary battleground in the war against Islamist terrorism.
He also seems to be unaware that Czechoslovakia, a subject that recently came up in a discussion, has not existed as a separate country for about a decade. So much for the superior foreign policy expertise he was supposed to possess.
I am bored that McCain, like the Bush Administration, is obsessed with what he calls "the success of the surge" in reducing violence in Iraq. To the "surge" promoters, the temporary deployment of about 25,000 fresh troops to Iraq has taken on the aura of a historic new military tactic worthy of a Robert E. Lee or Field Marshall Rommel.
They seem to forget that Gen. Eric Shinseki, who was ousted as the Army's chief of staff, warned that the U.S. was invading and planning to occupy Iraq with an inadequate number of troops. Indeed, there is evidence that he and other Pentagon generals were unenthusiastic about the Iraq adventure from the start.
According to knowledgeable observers, the insurgency in Iraq was already declining before the arrival of the additional U.S. troops. One primary reason, they claim, was the decision to put several powerful Sunni Arab tribes on the American payroll to fight other Sunni insurgents and the local al-Qaeda forces.
Another factor in the decline in violence has been the loss of popular support for the corrupt Shiite Sadr movement, which had battled U.S. troops and opposed the rival Shiite parties that dominate the Maliki government.
When the Maliki regime embraced the idea of a timetable for the removal of U.S. forces from Iraq--which Obama proposed--the absurdity of both McCain's and President Bush's fierce resistance to a withdrawal plan was vividly exposed.
As I have written before on this blog, I have not been an ardent Obama supporter. I would have preferred a more seasoned Democratic candidate like Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd or Governor Bill Richardson.
I have been troubled by Obama's limited experience and political achievements. Perhaps because I am a a grouchy old man, I have also been put off by his boyish persona and the adoring, charismatic movement that has developed around his Presidential campaign.
Nevertheless, I recognize that he is man of exceptional intelligence. More important, we are essentially on the same ideological wave length. I will therefore enthusiastically vote for him, hoping that his coat tails will bring in overwhelming Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate.
I was delighted to see Europeans and others waving the American flag during Obama's recent foreign tour. It was more gratifying than seeing the foreigners who burn the American flag whenever President George W. Bush arrives on an overseas visit.
I am scared by the prospect of John McCain, my doddering old compatriot, moving into the White House and repeating and even reinforcing the blunders of the most incompetent Presidential administration in my lifetime.