Monday, April 12, 2010

Officeholders and Avatars

Even when we dislike them, we like for our officeholders to be larger than life—especially congressmen and Presidents. People who cause major problems for us, the thinking goes, must be major figures.
Thus, Nancy Pelosi and her ilk are transmuted into legendary and even mythological beings. In the minds of some, she's Queen Pelosi or Marie Antoinette. One commentator wrote, “The last time anyone saw the likes of Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Nancy Pelosi, they were stirring a cauldron when the curtain went up on Macbeth." I'm surprised that no one has compared Pelosi to Medusa.
We can view congressmen in a more objective light if we de-mythologize them. The reality is, many of them are sub-ordinary. The real Nancy Pelosi can be more accurately compared to the late Tammy Faye Bakker—a greedy wretch who is likely to stir in us an admixture of pity and disgust.
Let's not get congressmen confused with their campaign materials. We're all familiar with the idea of the images people generate as their online personalities. It's quite common for pimpled, skinny geeks to represent themselves online as popular, chic, and a lot of other things they never were and never hope to be. They may even use images called avatars to represent themselves, and some of these images are cast in the mold of legendary or mythological beings.
That's what the public versus public images of most congressmen are like. Voters may naively elect the avatar, but we end up getting the person as he really is.
Let's take one example of a sleazy mediocrity who reached the Senate by betraying everyone who trusted him—including the prisoners of war in Vietnam—while presenting himself as the exact opposite of the person he really was.
His father, Admiral John McCain, Sr., pulled strings to get his son into West Point. McCain, Jr., finished 894th out of class of 899.
Aboard the USS Forestall, McCain earned the dubious nickname, “Wetstart” McCain. Wetstarting is a term used for (loosely, in layman’s terms) causing a fighter plane to backfire into another pilot's face aboard a ship. Yes, it was a dangerous practice.
On one occasion, McCain's plane wet started (deliberately, some believe), causing missiles to dislodge and explode. Some 27 people died and over 100 injured in the deadliest peacetime disaster in U.S. naval history. Admiral McCain's boy was quickly transferred from the Forestall before any investigation could be held. He was the only crewmember to be quickly transferred after the Forestall fire.
On the day McCain was shot down over Vietnam, he broke his arms by not following the correct procedure in ejecting.
For McCain, Hanoi Hilton was more like the Hilton Hotel than a prisoner of war camp. There, he was called Songbird” McCain. Watch the video interview with a former Vietnam POW. According to some prisoners of war, McCain always wore a clean shirt, and he'd disappear for days at a time. Whenever he returned from these unexplained absences, he looked none the worse for wear—unlike many POW’s who returned bearing signs of torture.
You may have seen the made-for-television movie In Love and War, telling of Carol McCain’s heroic struggle for humane treatment of American POW's in Vietnam. Unlike When Hell Was in Session, the story of Jeremiah Denton's imprisonment at Hanoi Hilton, In Love and War said little about John McCain. That's because there was nothing much to tell that they'd have wanted to repeat.
How McCain got the money he needed for his election to the United States Senate was another act of treachery. While his wife was confined to a wheelchair, John McCain made regular trips to Hawaii for an adulterous relationship with Anheuser-Busch heiress Cindy Lou Hensley. After Cindy agreed to marry him, McCain divorced his wife. It was Cindy's money that got him elected to the Senate on a platform that included family values.
If McCain would prefer not to have his women a la carte, it's his business. I mention this scandal only because it fits a pattern of betrayal in John McCain's life.
Once in the Senate, McCain continued his pattern of betrayal. You may know that, in the Paris Peace negotiations formally ending the Vietnam War, Henry Kissinger privately agreed that the U.S. would pay war reparations to Hanoi in exchange for prisoners. Congress wasn't told of this secret agreement until years after the war. When Congress balked at war reparations, Hanoi kept at least 600 Americans they had not yet released. “Songbird” McCain has consistently blocked serious investigations of Americans still held in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Click here to see a video of McCain, as chairman of a committee on POW/MIA affairs, abusing the leader of a POW/MIA families group who had lost her brother in Vietnam. Notice how he misrepresents her actual words. Members of the POW/MIA Committee accused McCain and government officials of blocking the investigation.
McCain co-sponsored the McCain-Feingold Act, which was designed to make it more difficult for incumbents to be challenged for re-election. During the 2008 Republican primaries, however, McCain violated his own law and was not prosecuted. He accepted federal matching funds in his campaign and won several primaries by that system. Once his campaign contributions and spending exceeded the legal amount, he opted out, as he was allowed to do. His violation was that he didn’t return the matching funds, and he didn't release the delegates he had previously won, as the law he'd co-sponsored required him to do.
There are also serious questions regarding election fraud, but I'll address that in an article on the Diebold vote-counting machines and other easily-rigged electronic voting devices.
McCain’s current act of betrayal is his sponsorship of a bill to treat American dissenters as “enemy combatants.” At the determination of the President, anti-war activists and other dissenters can be deemed enemy activists and be subject to the type of “aggressive interview” techniques found at Guantanamo. Please write a polite letter to your congressman and ask him to vote against this assault on the Constitution.
When we consider a candidate, we should look beyond the public image the campaign has presented. We don't elect the image; we elect the person.

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