Friday, September 19, 2008

Desperate Ambition; or, I Know You Are But What Am I?

I don't know whether it's kindergarten teachers or psychiatrists, or maybe both, who say this -- but a pretty good rule of thumb when dealing with people is: when you are really bothered by a trait in someone else, dollars to donuts it's what you're really bothered by in yourself. (ie, "She's so braggy, I can't stand it!" probably means the child is actually a little troubled by her own bragging....)

From all accounts -- hell, even by looking at the guy -- it's pretty clear that John McCain has nothing but contempt for his opponent. He can't stand Obama, hates him even. "Thinly disguised" is the phrase the press likes to use. (In fact, if Obama took McCain up on his offer of holding town halls, I bet Obama could provoke McCain into saying something really, truly, unpleasant and possibly not just Game-Changing, but Game-Ending. You know, something like "Oh what the fuck do you know, you goddamn uppity --" Although maybe now we're allowing 'Uppity' a seat at the table....)

And what does McCain so obviously hate most about Obama, what trait does he return to again and again, in his obnoxious mocking of his opponent's life story and record? His ambition.

The noble McCain hath told you that Obama is ambitious; and McCain is an honorable man...


So I've finished McCain's book now - the first one, written for the 2000 campaign. To me, it was always pretty clear that George W was gonna win that thing, so I never really took McCain all that seriously. Nor do I share the incredible nostalgia for his 2000 campaign. I gather he was treated badly in South Carolina, and that whatever lessons he learned from that sorry experience he has now been trying to put to use against Obama.

Okay, so you want some dollar book Freud?

What comes off from the book is: he has a simplistic worldview, he is essentially at war with himself, he has never come close to resolving his issues with his father or his grandfather (both of whom were huge war heroes and World Class A-Holes), he has enormous ambition but hates himself for it, he doesn't have any real respect for women, he apologizes frequently for his mistakes, knows quite well that he has a problem with authority, knows full well he has a temper that makes him do things he probably shouldn't...

From what I can remember, after Bush attacked him in South Carolina in 2000, he became enraged and after an initial, brief 'we're not gonna stoop so low' phase, began attacking back, equally viciously. After he lost, he said that had been a mistake, that that wasn't the real McCain. But from reading his book, and following this election, I think it's pretty clear: there is no real McCain. (And I'm not talking about just the issues: he poses as a maverick but is of course the ultimate Washington insider. He wants to bring reform to DC, but was wrapped up in the gruesomely obvious Keating Five scandal...)

I mean as a person, as a guy. He doesn't really stand for anything -- and in a way that could be a good thing -- that is a good thing, when we're talking about the members of the Armed Services. We don't want our Army standing for anything other than the interests of the United States. And I do believe that somewhere down deep, McCain does stand for the interests of the United States. Or thinks he does.

But what he really stands for is himself. Again and again in his book, the word 'ambition' comes up - the phrase 'glory for myself', even in a negative way (the McCain meme, for those of you who don't know: before he was a POW, all he cared about was himself; afterwards, he was all about service to country). But it rings hollow if you read the book -- the man is permeated with the idea of glory and ambition, and why else would he be so incensed by Obama if he didn't think the guy was cut from the same cloth?

(I am not saying Obama is NOT ambitious, of course; Obama regularly admits that no politician can be without some vanity... but Obama's faults have a lot more to do with, oh, I don't know, arrogance and thinking he knows all the answers, and maybe an tendency to over-think problems -- his problem is NOT that he is just trying to glorify himself.)

So pay attention: watch how much McCain talks about Obama's ambition, and realize: this is a man who wants more than anything else in the world to be President -- only then will he surpass his Dad and Granddad (my God! do we really want another Oedipal drama at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?) -- and as he sees it slip away, and fall into the hand of this, this, this _____, he is going to become increasingly desperate, making more and more outrageous statements, scattering his impotent rage into the atmosphere in a ravenous lunge for Power.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's called 'projection,' smart boy.