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...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, December 12, 2008

John McCain Is Al Gore

Were you watching David Letterman tonight? His guest star was the umbilically-tied, Senator John McCain -- the man who a short month ago, received my vote to be Commander-in-Chief.

I watched queasily.

The thing with John McCain is that, of course, he's a decent man. He's self-deprecating, and he's got a strong grip on reality. He's engaging, up to a point, as well.

But the problem is that I finally realised something that perhaps all those of you reading this out there, have known for a while: John McCain likes to be liked.

That would be fine, but there's a catch. He especially likes to be liked by the in-crowd.

Media, personalities like Letterman, he plays to all of them, including to the listening audience. All the while, of course, wagging a finger of reproof to his Party comrades if they act, think and speak, shock!, like Republicans.

This is the man who shushed an entire audience of well-wishers and campaign backers in the Arizona Biltmore, who dared to boo Mr. Obama during his concession speech but made light of the disgraceful campaign workers backstabbing of his running mate, on a followup Letterman appearance.

(Since we're on the topic, by the way, was it me, or did you think that was an extremely well-crafted defeat speech? Too much so? I wonder how the victory version would've sounded -- not nearly as polished and well-thought out, I would say, and therein lies the rub with John McCain. I wonder just how much he wanted to win. Maybe he just wanted to look honourable and not be seen as a roadblock to history, lest his legacy suffer)

Tonight, McCain made a sneaky little mention of how Letterman disapproved about his selection for Vice-Presidential running-mate, and he let the waves of audience laughter ride and ride, as he smirked in obvious pleasure at the reaction. I almost paid a visit to the porcelain god after watching this.

That's when I realised, like many Republicans, I have arrived at a certain amount of peace about the election's result. I desperately dislike what Barack Obama stands for, but I wasn't at all happy about what John McCain stood for either. That man is everything but a conservative.

Joe Wurzelbacher made headlines this week again, echoing a lot of my discomfort about John McCain's positions. He said he spoke at length to McCain about the bailout, and that the Senator's answers "appalled" him. He felt so bad, he wanted to get off the bus. Didn't we all...

Incidentally, click on this LA Times story about Joe's forthcoming book. One of the biggest problems I have with those on the Left is that they are unabashedly condenscending about the blue-collar, the undereducated, anyone they perceive to be unworthy.

This piece nails this attitude almost in caricature form. This attitude will only get worse, because these people believe there is a vanguard who are entitled to be leaders in every field. Should you not fit that mold, you do not merit even respect for your viewpoints. After 4 years of this, I think Americans will begin to take a close look at why such an attitude is allowed free reign in our society, because it stinks. It's not entirely un-American (look at the Founding Fathers, not a proto-NASCAR dad amongst them), but it still reeks of elitism.

By now you're wondering about the blogpost title. It's simple.

Last year, Vice-President Al Gore paid a visit to the University of Miami, and of course, I was there. Just two days before, he had won the Oscar for Best Documentary, and his Nobel Prize laurels were in the offing. I confess I half-expected him to bring the statuette with him, and hold it aloft for the audience to roar in approval over.

It turns out that this bit of flourish, which didn't happen, was just about the only non-self-serving thing he didn't do throughout the nearly interminable two-hour presentation.

Here is a Youtube video I filmed during it.

Actually two-and-a-half hours. Yes, I was startled to find him do a live version of "An Inconvenient Truth" right there, and then take questions afterwards. A lot of us left well before he finished, and you know I am not one to cut tail and run at any happening.

It's just that the man is an utter bore.

That we all knew, and obviously, I was prepared for it.

What I wasn't prepared for is Al Gore's need to prop himself up as popular, all the time. During the whole event he name-dropped, he let us into his glamourous life, and just made himself out to be a big-shot the whole time.

In a way, it was fascinating to watch this unfold. Psychologically, I mean.

After all, it's one thing for ordinary schmoes to name-drop.

We know why they do it -- they want people to realise that they have been brushed with greatness, in the form of notable individuals. I do it myself sometimes, but hopefully with more comedic intent.

But why does a man like Al Gore, son of a Senator, himself a Senator and Vice-President, with an Oscar and a Nobel Prize on the mantelpiece, have to do it?

Here's an example of what I mean.

He peppered his Incovenient Truth presentation with anecdotes about how hip he was.

Did you know he uses a Mac? Not only does he use a Mac, but he told us that he sits on the Apple Board of Directors, and recounted of a lunch he had the other day with Steve Jobs. You know why he let drop that? Because had some tips on how to make the Power-Point-like application Apple uses, which he was using at that moment, more user-friendly. You know what happened? They took his advice, changed the app for him, and therefore for all of us. Woo.

Let's count the ways Gore boosted himself in this one anecdote.

  • - He's not an evil, capitalistic Windows user. He's an eco-friendly, liberal Mac user. Admirable!
  • - He sits on the Apple Board. He's not just an user, but he's the ultimate Apple insider!
  • - He can have lunch with the genius behind the magic, Steve Jobs, just because he's Al Gore!
  • - He can give advice to said genius, and he runs with it! He's a fellow genius!
Oh, there were so many things I can tell you that he said...

That his daughter was a "Futurama" writer, and that he and Matt Groening hung out together at his home. That Mark Knopfler gave him a tip about a song, which he downloaded, and which he wished us, the audience, to take note of. That he and Tipper had been hosted by the King and Queen of Spain, and did we know that the Queen was a pescetarian. He just couldn't relax, you know? He had to inject himself constantly into his anecdotes, by way of giving us a hidden nugget of knowledge that we were not privy to, but that he was.

It blew my mind the things I heard. I kept thinking, "Wow, this man is needy. He NEEDS to be liked".

Nothing is more disgusting to me, than such people. I find them absolutely pitiful, even dangerous. You know why: they go with the flow and rarely stand for anything, because untrendy positions make people hate you. Not just people, though. The RIGHT people. All the others really don't count for them.

And that's where John McCain and Al Gore bifurcate.

They are both the sons of Washington privilege. They grew up in remarkably similar households frequenting the same corridors of power, went to similar boarding schools (though McCain's was a more peripatetic childhood), had similar high-achieving dads who they wanted to out-do. Both in a sense did, though arguably not in their own minds.

They are both part of that creampuff vanguard of people raised to lead.

That's not Joe Wurzelbacher. That's not Sarah Palin. That's not a lot of people in that audience at UM, though a few probably thought they were, by mere virtue of the fact that they "get it". They too want to be liked, and to hobnob with Steve Jobs, and to have a guest appearance with David Letterman, sharing yuks about the little people who don't know better.

Obviously, I am overstating this to make a point. I don't really think every single person there thinks like this.

But I find it...appalling...that there are enough of those who do.

I do not trust, I do not respect, and I do not wish to be governed by those who wish to be liked.

Give me a tough old coot who tells everyone to take their weak piss tea and go home, to boo all they want against their foes, and to tell David Letterman to apologise for being such an egocentric idiot already, and not just fall on his "mavericky" "honour" sword all the time, and I'll be as happy as a clam being led by such a man.

And, with regret, that is not and was not John McCain.

That's how today I am a member of the loyal opposition to President-Elect Barack Obama. Not happy, mind you. Not at all. But at peace.

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  • "But why does a man like Al Gore, son of a Senator, himself a Senator and Vice-President, with an Oscar and a Nobel Prize on the mantelpiece, have to do it?"

    Because his father taught him that he'd be a failure if he didn't become President. And he didn't -- by a result literally within the margin of error.

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Dec 12, 03:20:00 am GMT-5  

  • Because his father taught him that he'd be a failure if he didn't become President. And he didn't -- by a result literally within the margin of error.

    Arr. That's pirate for yes.

    Still, there is a psychological factor to George W. Bush not living up to his old man's standards (and I am not being influenced by Stone in this, everyone knows that), and he doesn't name-drop, or make himself out to be the in-crowd leader.

    And that's saying a lot, for the ex-pep squad captain.

    Someone once described Al Gore to me, as the perpetual ex-Student Government President.

    He's earnest, but tries too hard. He's always a little hungry for approval from his peers.

    I hate that, man. Just hate it.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Dec 12, 03:36:00 am GMT-5  

  • Once again, you are right on the money. Very well said and observed, Vicky.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 12, 04:56:00 am GMT-5  

  • I was so disgusted by McCain at the end of the campaign, I had a full-blown case of McCain Derangement Syndrome. I think you're right, I think he couldn't stand being the Media's bad guy. He's much happier back in the senate, back-stabbing republicans just often enough to retain his "maverick" status. (And McCain constantly referring to himself as a "maverick" is just his version of the Gore name-drop.)

    What a conundrum that someone who's been through what he has, and at his age, still sees the world through the lens of a popularity contest! And now he's back on the talk-show circuit, on Letterman, no less, who has been positively vicious to SP. What a cool guy.

    Looks like I still have some of that MDS!

    By Blogger knox, at Sun Dec 14, 09:12:00 am GMT-5  

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