Tuesday, May 23, 2006
by Jane Smiley
So, after trying out his campaign in friendly territory (Liberty University, newly annexed by sucking up to the religious right), then in fairly neutral territory (Columbia), John McCain brought the same strategy to territory that he knew in advance was hostile. He telegraphed his strategy to the enemy, was pre-emptively attacked, and then had to retreat (let's call it a rout).
His lieutenant general then tried a few dirty tricks (like attempted character assassination), but the insurgency not only survived, it prevailed.
This incompetent wants to be Commander-in-Chief in dangerous times? What's his name, again, Burnside?
The appalled onlooker, such as myself, the sort of person (a voter) that McCain wants to win over, has to stare in disbelief. From a purely strategic point of view, McCain's assault upon the fortress of liberalism that is the New School was an abject failure. He did not win over anyone, and he defeated and humiliated himself. Mark Salter failed him absolutely because it was Salter's job to understand, before the graduation speech, that McCain was unwelcome as the representative of a failed administration and a failed war, and that he is widely seen as someone who may once have had character but for whom the term "roll-away teeth" now applies. Instead of warning McCain that intelligence reports showed that the New School could be treacherous territory and required some tactical shifts, and possibly an orderly retreat, Salter let him march forth in ignorant expectation of victory. Afterward, showing himself to be a cur instead of a man, Salter whined and growled and tried to bite. His motive -- to save his own ass -- was evident.
Of course, my real beef against John McCain is the same as my beef against all supporters of the Iraq War and the current administration. He has collaborated (enthusiastically) in decimating the treasury, breaking the army, wrecking the bureaucracy, silencing the media, gelding the opposition party, handing the public lands over to private interests to exploit as they please, dirtying the air and water, impoverishing the working class, damaging the schools, outsourcing the jobs, and laying waste to the public health, not to mention killing and maiming thousands upon thousands of Americans and Iraqis, destroying the Iraqi infrastructure, defying international law, and alienating formerly friendly people around the world. His crimes are legion. He should consider himself lucky to get away with mere humiliation.