Thursday, July 10, 2008

McCain as Maxwell Smart

by Norman Markowitz

The McCain campaign , according to press reports, has a commercial contrasting the fabled hippie "Summer of Love," in 1967, "uncertainty, hope and change" with what it calls while "another kind of love, love of country, John McCain shot down, bayoneted, tortured." As the
commercial goes on, McCain comes home, tells it like it is, makes speeches, stands before American flags, shakes hands with Nancy As the beer commercial nationalists might say McCain is the ,man, the real man, the real candidate of change and hope, the actor, not the talker, the wet behind the ears Barack Obama.

Besides addressing the obscenity of the commercial's connecting the hope generated by the social movements of the 1960s, none of which McCain supported at the time on any level, with the patriotic "love" represented by the bombing of Vietnam, which those movements not only opposed as they opposed the whole Vietnam War escalation which McCain sees as wrong because it didn't go far enough we should remember that the Vietnam War escalation created the division that ended the war on poverty and the great society social programs at home. But, however his handlers try to make him into a war movie hero, I would say that John McCain isn't talking like John Wayne in the Green Berets today. He is talking much more like Maxwell Smart the screwball secret agent of the television series Get Smart, of the same period, saying ridiculous things and calling for ridiculous policies in the midst of crises that aren't funny.

For example, McCain is promising a "balanced budget" by the end of his first term while staunchly supporting the Bush deficit building tax cuts and keeping his mouth shut about further increases in military spending which his policies would dictate. This is a little bit like promising a national health policy based on steroid injections to fight the flu (you will build up strong people).

Then there is McCain's real "health program," very expensive federal support for programs for people who can't get coverage because of the illnesses they have and are in "high risk pools." Actually, New Jersey where I live and many other states have such insurance programs for drivers with bad records, programs that compensate the insurers (who get the profits) and provide subsidies for the drivers, who still pay significantly higher premiums. There are significant problems with these policies for auto insurance (they provide in effect insurance for the insurers) but the suggestion that this is a serious national health program for the tens of millions without any insurances and the larger number of citizens who are seriously under-insured is worthy of Maxwell Smart.

Meanwhile, McCain had another Maxwell Smart moment in his response to Iran's missile tests. After saying that this showed the need for "missile defense in Europe as is planned with the Czech Republic and Poland" (Maxwell Smart would see immediately the threat that Tehran poses to Warsaw and Prague) McCain went on to say that "Iran now poses the greatest strategic challenge to the United States in a generation."

What is a generation? There is no hard and fast answer but I was taught in universities that it was twenty-five years. This means that Iran represents a greater "strategic challenge to the U.S. than Iraq (whom McCain's favorite president Ronnie you know who was supporting against the Iranians twenty five years ago) bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the creations of the Reagan-CIA war in Afghanistan along with the Taliban government. The U.S. fought two Gulf Wars against forces that were not as threatening as the Iranians today. I wonder what what Ronnie you know who, who is no longer with us, and George W, who has never been with us, would say about that? Maxwell Smart would say if at first you don't succeed, fight a third regional war.

But McCain really got going today by trying to beat up on Barack Obama for offering to engage in talks with the Iranian leadership, having his "senior policy foreign policy advisor" call that "cowboy summitry" (Goldwater-Reagan-Bush Republicans calling other people cowboys goes beyond Get Smart). McCain, who accuses Obama of being all talk, then denounced him for not supporting a strongly worded Senate resolution condemning Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organization(Obama supported a similar but less belligerent resolution, but all of this is a non issue,a little bit like one Iranian politician denouncing another for failing to support a strongly worded resolution condemning the CIA as a "terrorist organization" if the situation were reversed) . Maybe they should simplify it all by changing the names of the Revolutionary Guard and the CIA to KAOS, the organization that Agent Maxwell Smart of Control fought so heroically and ineptly.

At least Maxwell Smart was funny. McCain, who wants to subsidize medical insurers, count employer contributions to health plans for employees as taxable income for employees (a way to raise taxes on the general population) also said today that he was "open" to federal bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie, the two major mortgage insurers who are trying to pick up the expensive pieces from the deregulation disaster that threatens millions of homeowners. A while ago, McCain was talking tough against "predatory lenders." Now he is talking about saving the homeowners by saving the lenders.

But McCain is a man of action, not words. What kind of action? Watch The Green Berets,or even better, that old Ronnie You Know Who aka Ronald Reagan Korean War brainwashing and torture film, Prisoner of War. I prefer to watch Get Smart, or, if I am really shook up, Dr. Strange love.