Wednesday, November 05, 2008

US Presidential Elections - Looking at the loser

Finally and hopefully we see the last of those neocons – read Malaysiakini Obama chalks up historic win.

Congratulations to Barack Obama for being elected as the 44th President of the USA and the first black American to be Head of State of the most powerful nation on earth, a post which should never have gone into the hands of low brow moronic George W Bush.

Can you imagine that it was just slightly more than 50 years ago (Malaysia's age) that Rose Parks, an African American woman, was taken off to jail for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. Today a black man is the President of that country!

I came across Obama’s name when my good mate, Dean Johns wrote of him in a Malaysiakini column some years ago, telling us he’s the man to look out for. If not for the fact that I had (always) eagerly awaited Dean’s weekly column, I would be none the wiser as to who the hell was this man with the strange name of Barack Obama.

Congratulations are thus in order too for Dean Johns for his foresight and aspiration for such a man to take over the reins of a nation which was once admired but under Bush-Cheney, feared and detested.

Dean wrote in his column again (article sent to Malaysiakini on eve of the US presidential election) on Obama titled Barracking for Obama.

The most descriptive paragraph in Dean’s column was “And the proposition that the dumb-as-dirt George Bush and his creepy VP Dick Cheney should be succeeded by the hopelessly hawkish ‘war hero’ McCain and the lipstick dipstick Sarah Palin is simply outrageous.”

I agree with Dean on almost every word save that part where he lambasted John McCain. Dean may disagree with me but that’s the strength of my friendship with Dean that we can agree to disagree without degenerating into a Bush-ite “Either you’re with us or against us”, or the equally acrimonious anwaristas’ cry of “You BN balls licker” (wakakaka).

Take it from me, the least hawkish person in any government as a rule would be the military man who has seen/experienced blood in combat (operative phrase being 'in combat') – example, Colin Powell!

I am convinced that John McCain is of the same mold.

While like Dean I had ‘barracked’ for Obama, I have been so bloody annoyed, out of a sense of fair play and outrage at the under-the-belt sniping at John McCain by another Malaysiakini columnist, W Scott Thompson, that I wrote a letter to Malaysiakini yesterday – and which I doubt would now be published as the events in the USA election may have rendered it slightly obsolete.

But let me present here what I had sent to Malaysiakini:

Dear Editor,

I am appalled by (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy) Professor Emeritus W Scott Thompson attack on John McCain in his article 'Landslide' published by Malaysiakini.

While I share Professor Thompson's preference for Barack Obama as the future US President, his under-the-belt criticism of McCain has been most deplorable and smacked of the grubby style of the Swift Boats Veterans for Truth.

Thompson should be ashamed of himself for writing sneeringly of McCain as "a 'national hero' who supposedly had earned the presidency for five years squatting in a Vietnamese jail (heroism defined as endurance rather than courageous choice)."

If McCain was a war hero, it would not be because he was a POW, though he demonstrated his discipline and inner strength as a naval officer during his wartime incarceration. It would have to be his unstinting service to his country as a naval pilot who was prepared to conduct air operations 23 times (before being shot down) over North Vietnam, at that time one of the most heavily defended airspace in the world.

McCain was and is unlike President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, two of the most belligerent American leaders ever seen, but who both successfully avoided* the Vietnam War.

* Note not sent in letter - Cheny took 5 'deferments' from the Vietnam draft, yet he has been the most bellicose belligerent hawk in the Bush administration - earning him the dubious title of chickenhawk, a title used to criticize a politician, bureaucrat, or commentator who strongly supports a war or other military action, but has never personally been in a war, especially if that person actively avoided military service when of draft age.

We also need to note that McCain refused a North Vietnamese offer of early release in 1968, because it would mean him leaving before other prisoners who had been held longer. Such had been his sense of honour, sense of fairness and duty to his comrades that he was prepared to remain in the horrible POW camp for another 5 years before he was released in 1973 after the Paris Peace Accords.

But regardless of whether one wishes to remember McCain's duty to his country in war or his courageous endurance in the infamous 'Hanoi Hilton', Professor Thompson should hang his head in shame for employing the politically-motivated dismissive word 'supposedly', and for attempting to diminish McCain's war service by a pathetic hair-splitting re-definition of the 'heroism' attributed to the Republican presidential candidate.

Then, being the academic snob he must be, he contrasted McCain's Annapolis achievements (the US naval academy) against Obama's Harvard background. To borrow a leaf out of Thompson's book, that's like comparing the finest tempered steel against a fluffy quill.

But to be fair to Obama in the steel versus quill model, can there be a comparison between two vastly different items, each of relevant use in specific scenarios. Yes, it's like saying apples are superior to oranges!

One must remember that Republican John McCain defended Democrat John Kerry during the Swift Boats Veterans for Truth [SBVT] smear campaign through advertisements against the Democrat presidential candidate. McCain stated: "I condemn the [SBVT] ad. It is dishonest and dishonorable. I think it is very, very wrong."

Recently, McCain defended his presidential candidate rival Obama when a white Republican supporter alluded to the alleged Obama's questionable foreign allegiance. McCain chopped that bigoted suggestion down and spoke of Obama as a decent American citizen.

Professor Thompson should take note that while McCain might not have run the Harvard Law Review, he has time and time again demonstrated the finest example of his Annapolis training, that of honour (decency) and duty!



  1. I didn't find McCain too bad a chap, but I would have to say that he failed to control the bigoted comments by his supporters later in the campaign, concerning utterances such as "Terrorist!" or "Kill him!", or even making statements concerning the worrying trend of his fans accounting Obama to being a Muslim (which was rumoured to be a ploy from a Clinton supporter before the DNC). Spending money on attack ads that highlighted non-issues didn't help either.

    Sure, he corrected his supporters on that October 10th rally (I believe it was that date), but I fear it may have been a case of too little, too late. Some Muslims might get offended by his response to "He's an Arab", which was "No, no, he's a decent family man," which may allude that Arabs/Muslims aren't decent in the least bit, even though I don't think he meant it that way.

    He might have had a good idea of winning the war in Iraq, goodness knows that pulling out might create a power vacuum unless Obama would act cautiously, but it's bad luck for John anyhow. The chickenhawks in the current administration handled it very, very badly, and that also reflects on the Republican party as a whole.

    It could have been done better, but McCain ran the race, and came in second place. Now to see how Obama runs the country.

    Still, I would to see one last televised fuckup by Dubya. Maybe he'll forget to show up on Inauguration Day. ;)

  2. W Scott Thompson that UMNO balls carrier. Don't take him too seriously KT. He is beneath you. McCain is one of the most decent man on the American political scene at the moment. He is a soldier who truly knows the meaning of suffering in war.

    Many say that he is a hawk like Bush or Cheney but these hawks have never seen their bloodied comrades shoved in their faces before. A man like McCain would probably cut through all the political shit and move US troops out of Iraq as fast as he could because he knows what wars can do to soldiers and their loved ones. His primary concern will be to stop the suffering as quickly as possible such as when he refused the early release offered by the North Vietnamese in favor of those who have been held captive longer.

    Obama on the other hand is a man who knows nothing of war or its sufferings. His flip-flop over the US troop surge in Iraq clearly points to an opportunistic streak. First he was against funding the troop surge then when it became apparent that the surge was bringing desired results he turned around and supported it. Is this the kind of man anybody would want to be heading their armed forces? This is a man who clearly does not give a shit about the lives of the men and women under his command. Soldiers are just another political tool for him. Obama knows as much as Bush when it comes to the deaths and sufferings of soldiers in wars. If corporate America is anything to go by then Harvard Law School can hardly be described as a bastion of high moral. The Democrats will be falling over themselves fighting over the spoils of their presidential and congressional victories. The suffering of Iraq , Palestine et. al. will be for quite a while yet. Didn’t someone once said “shoot all the lawyers shoot them tonight"

  3. I also find it funny how people equate anyone with negative letters as UMNO lackeys.

  4. Goodness, almost everyone agrees Bush and Co. have made a big mess of things.

    But as an outside observer who has seen a fair bit of what it takes to provide solid, competent, dependable leadership under pressure, I'm not that impressed with Obama.

    I long ago learnt to look beyond smooth speeches and stratospheric rethoric.

    In fact, one of Obama's major advantages in the campaign was precisely his wafer-thin record. His opponents had virtually nothing to latch on to.

    Anyway, I wish Obama well. What America does and how it behaves affects the well being of everyone in the world.

  5. Americans don't simply choose a president just because he's black
    They merely exercise democracy and elect who they think is best
    In exercising their basic fundamental rights there is no slack
    After the big election they still put the president to the test

    (C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 061108
    Thur. 6th Nov. 2008.

  6. Malaysians also put their trust in their "golden (old)boy" Dollah al-Bedouin in 2004, giving him an unprecedented 92% of the vote. But, boy oh boy, 4 years later they threw that good-for-nothing out into the gutter

  7. I'm reliably informed that Barak Hussein Obama bin Laden is Christian in name, but Muslim in practice.

  8. But when it came to the campaign, all that I kept hearing McCain say over and over again was how bad a boy Obama was! Nothing much on the issues. Or maybe he had crafted and delivered his issues early on in the campaign and the rest of the campaign wa about Obama bashing. He certainly exuded very little confidence in himself.

    Sorry, but 5 years at the Hanoi Hilton and a decorated pilot and military man does not a President make!

  9. old fart,

    Off the top of my head, some elements of McCain's platform...

    1) federal govt buy back of house mortgages
    2) perpetuate bush tax cuts for the wealthy
    3) Across the board spending freeze
    4) A potential alternative to the UN ("league of democracies")
    5) Something about school vouchers (I dunno much bout this; didn't really care cos it's totally a domestic issue, no impact on me whatsoever).
    6) Strong-arm diplomacy (vs Obama's softer touch)
    7) Conservative inclination for supreme court appointments (i.e. pro-life)
    8) Emphasis on nuclear power
    9) A soft promise (though probably wouldn't be fulfilled) to balance the budget within 1 term
    10) Proponent of the "surge" strategy/tactic in Afghanistan
    11) In favor of a slow withdrawal from Iraq

    All this came out in the debates.

  10. Througout the presidential race, Obama has been mostly rhetoric hence his popularity. For the world's sake, i hope he moves beyond political talk. If he fails to correct the mess America is in right now, I shudder to think of the consequences. One thing's for sure, it will be two steps back for race relations..

  11. oh, and I forgot about McCain's strong position on porkbarrel spending as well, promising to veto any of them.

  12. Ktemoc for Prime Minister !

    Then I woke up and realised its just a nightmare...

  13. Don't get excited too fast, Obama just made Rahm Emanuel the new Chief of Staff.

    He is an American citizen who went to Israel during the Gulf War 1991 and joined the Israel Army ... wonder what would happened to Malaysian Indians who do that in Sri Lanka?


  14. it's all becoz the majority is not united...... cnn reported that of 75% whites, 55% voted mccain and 45% for obama ..... and the minorities >90% voted obama!!!! to minority, they voted becoz of skin color, no doubt about that....

    that's why i would say umno should learn great lesson in american presidential election, just like soldiers in war "never divide your army or you'll lose the battle" - the majority should stay united, never divided or you end up being lead by minority..

  15. denzook, could it be possible that American voters were voting for 2 American presidential candidates, without the burden of ethnocentric 'social contract' or Israeli type 'ketuanan' ideology corrupting their avaricious minds?

  16. Well Kt, the Obama's administrations gatekeeper is a Israeli type 'ketuanan' ideology man as you put it. Americans have been conned. So were we in 2004.

  17. I agree that Americans were conned by Israel, a foreign power with a racist ideology.

    Indeed so were we in 2004, but by our own people, also with a racist ideology.

  18. what's wrong of the chief of staff serving israeli army ? he holds dual citizenship, and israel is america ally. just like our mr "terminator" hold austrian citizenship .....

    statistic din lie, if 99% black vote for obama, you don call it vote for skin color then what you call it ? if this not racist then what ?

  19. denzook,

    To vote is to exercise one's universal right of choice. In a democratic system choosing the candidate according to his/her skin color is not racist as it does not involve the depriving of other ethnic groups of their fundamantal rights to equality, opportunity and so on.
    Now as for policies of UMNO/Israel that is another story altogether