Saturday, August 30, 2008

Can we now talk about McCain's age and health?

On a few occasions over the past couple of weeks, I have mentioned an initiative with respect to going on the attack against John McCain. With that, I have created a Google Group called "Know Your McCain" and we are looking to gather information (old and new), create viral videos, write blog posts and use social networking to spread the message about how dangerous John McCain is.

You can look for diaries with the tag "Know Your McCain", and some diaries will have the "Know Your McCain" in the title as well. If you are interested in joining the Google Group or helping out with the Facebook group, please send me an email (address is in my profile).


This has been something that seems to have been kept (relatively) in the background over the past year or so, even though it most certainly should not have been. But now, with a selection of someone that has a very light resume, is being investigated (and will likely be deposed) in an abuse of power scandal, a passing interest in Iraq, fundamentalist credentials and no clue as to what a VP does, it calls into question McCain’s age, health, judgment, and decision making process.

And it is all his own doing.

While there have been many themes to the campaign so far, a new one should now be emerging - one that supports all of the underlying questions that even fellow republicans have (and had) about McCain. There are questions as to whether he will make similar snap decisions without proper thought, input and debate when it comes to matters of national security or in a time of crisis. Make no mistake - he has failed his first big test, regardless of how anyone tries to spin this choice.

As part of this should be about Palin - it really should be more about McCain, as this is more indicative of the whole “putting country first” nonsense and sham that his campaign has been all along. Her shortcomings are now his. He is 72 years old, and certainly not a young 72. He was, as he will remind you at every turn, a POW for over 5 years, and was tortured. He is forgetful when it comes to basic foreign policy matters, and snaps at reporters even more than he has in the past. When challenged, he goes on the attack as opposed to thinking calmly under pressure. He likely suffers from some form of PTSD. He has survived cancer at least two times, and will not release his full medical records, let alone any mental fitness or psychiatric testing.

While it is not something that is comfortable to think about, he is a prime candidate to lose his mental capacity over the next few years - or at least slow down substantially. There is a greater likelihood that he could die in office than any other President, with the possible exception of Reagan. The stresses of the Presidency are well documented and can significantly age someone due to the rigorous schedule, the pressure and decision making, the crisis after crisis and even more so now with all that this country is facing.

Again, this is uncomfortable to think about and even less comfortable to talk about, but it is there. And it is real. He has slowed down significantly since January. He admitted to not thinking clearly after a few long days in a row. He takes Ambien to sleep better (not good for that “3AM phone call”).

McCain opened the door to question what happens if the unthinkable happens.

Can Palin stare down Putin or a dictator? Can she make an informed decision about the devolving political situation in Iraq? Does she have the ability to understand the complexity of the Georgia/Russia situation? Can she navigate through the Israel/Palestine situation with the respect that someone with years of experience and knowledge can? Will she be equipped to “reform” Washington when she is under investigation herself? How will she deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda? Is she less equipped to deal with a 9/11-type scenario than Bush was?

All of this has nothing to do with her being a woman - with the possible exception of the feeling that if she weren’t a woman, she would never have been the choice with a resume and background and inexperience on a major level that she has. oh, and before anyone calls that statement sexist, I will say that it is sexist that McCain passed up a good number of very qualified women to make this snap decision. Personally, I view this as no different from CBS hiring Katie Couric - an unqualified woman - over more qualified women.

This decision is being called “bold”, if nothing else. But “bold” also can mean stupid and rash. And in a situation where McCain’s age and health and past is what it is, coupled with the rigors and stress (both physical and mental) of being President, this is more about him than it is about Palin. This was not a “bold” or “maverick” choice. This was a pander to the fundies and a decision made with little to no vetting or thought.

It makes you question whether he has the mental capacity to have the good judgment and deliberate thought process to be President, and it puts the issue of his age and health front and center. And with those questions looming large now, it should, as Thad Cochran said, send a cold chill down everyone’s spine.

As Joe Biden said, this is the time for a “wise leader”. And this decision by McCain was not wise, nor was it indicative of what a leader would really do.

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