2 11 2008
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Sunday, November 2, 2008
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Choose America’s future:

John McCain: Country First. Barack Obama: Hope and change


By David Dastych  Sunday, November 2, 2008 


On Tuesday, November 4, 2008 it will be decided who will become the next President of the United States. The new president’s serial number will be “44,” a somewhat magic numerical symbol, which in my country is usually associated with Adam Mickiewicz’s poetic and prophetic drama Dziady (‘Forefather’s Eve,’ an ancient form of Halloween), where “44” is the name of a mysterious savior of Poland. Will the 44th President of the U.S.A. be a “savior” of America, a great reformer, or a “destroyer” of the Union, the one who ignores the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

The media bias

In the heat of the election campaign, both party nominees and their followers exchanged hard blows. Barack Obama was often called “socialist” and even “communist,” while John McCain was depicted as a “hardhead” and “warmonger,” who would send more GIs to Iraq and Afghanistan and start new wars to continue George W Bush’s belligerent policy. In the last week of the campaign, one Obama Girl, a left-wing feminist and writer Erica Jong, told Italian press “If Obama loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me. And it’s not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets.” Her friends, Jane Fonda and Naomi Wolf were equally terrified and obsessed by a possibility that their idol might lose.
How come? Barack Obama got steady and strong support from the American MainStream Media. Comments made by sources, voters, reporters and anchors that aired on ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts over the past two months reflected positively on Obama in 65 percent of cases, compared to 31 percent of cases with regards to McCain, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs. And influential newspapers, like the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post openly endorsed the Democratic nominee. Some journalists proclaimed him “the winner” several weeks prior to Election Day.
Commenting on unfair and unequal treatment of the Republican nominee, ABC columnist Michael Malone remarked “what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side—or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del. (…) If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.”
But not all American media treated the Republican nominee so badly. The Wall Street Journal in its article “McCain’s Honor” (Nov.1, 2008) wrote about him “The former Navy pilot’s politics has always been more personal than ideological. His core convictions are duty, honor and country. He has always been passionate to the point of being impulsive, an unguided policy missile until he locks on target. Then he can be tenacious, and sometimes moralistic. These traits have characterized the McCain candidacy for better or worse and, we suspect, would also mark his Presidency. What the media can’t say with a straight face is that they are shocked by any of this; they should admit they’ve simply found a new romance in Barack Obama.”

Equality or liberty

It looks like the biggest stake in this election is not just political or personal character difference between the two parties and their nominees but much more: reform or change of the American politico-economic system, developed over 200 years ago. This election is about equality or liberty.
Richard John Neuhaus wrote in “First Things” journal (October 31): “One can argue that every presidential election is a “historic” election. But some are more historic than others. Daniel Henninger had a provocative column yesterday making a strong case that this one is a “tipping point” between America continuing as an entrepreneurial society or going the way of the European “social democracies.” He cites the late Senator Pat Moynihan who said the big difference between Europe and America is that the former gives priority to equality and the latter to liberty. I’m not sure that Henninger is right in saying there would be no turning back after four or eight years of President Obama and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress imposing their passion for a government-directed program of redistribution and social coordination, but the future he depicts is both plausible and ominous.”
Daniel Henninger actually wrote in The Wall Street Journal, October 30:  “With this election, the U.S. is at a philosophical tipping point. The goal of Sen. Obama and the modern, “progressive” Democratic Party is to move the U.S. in the direction of Western Europe, the so-called German model and its “social market economy.” Under this notion, business is highly regulated, as it would be in the next Congress under Democratic House committee chairmen Markey, Frank and Waxman. Business is allowed to create “wealth” so long as its utility is not primarily to create new jobs or economic growth but to support a deep welfare system (…) One sees what Joe (The Plumber) Wurzelbacher saw. The real “change” being put to a vote for the American people in 2008 is not simply a break from the economic policies of “the past eight years” but with the American economic philosophy of the past 200 years. This election is about a long-term change in America’s idea of itself.”
 William R. Mann, a Lt Col USA (Ret), sent to me his own comment: “Richard John Neuhaus is a Lutheran Minister turned Catholic Priest. He was a civil rights marcher in the 1960s with Martin Luther King. This time, ironically, is a time where a Man of Color seeks to restrict all citizens’ Inalienable Rights, and he is close to receiving 50% approval to do so! Obama’s possible election is indeed a big deal. It may be more than just the end of Religious Freedom. We know this because of his expressed disdain for the immutable nature of ideas embraced in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Obama thinks that these documents are to be molded to fit his ideas of Change; sadly, not vice versa.”

Change? What change!

Four days before Election Day, I discussed the forthcoming elections with Harvard’s prominent historian and a former advisor to President Reagan, Professor Richard Pipes. We met at Warsaw Sheraton Hotel on Friday night, October 31, his last night in Poland, as he was to fly back to the United States on Saturday to cast a vote on Tuesday. “In Cambridge, the hometown of the Harvard University where I live, I have found only one McCain’s poster and all around there was a lot of Obama’s,” Professor Pipes told me. “In 1972, when George McGovern ran against Richard Nixon, McGovern’s only two electoral vote victories came in Massachusetts and in Washington, D.C.” McGovern even failed to win his home state of South Dakota. But now Barack Obama might win in many states, including my home state. There’s no chance for the Republican nominee to win in Massachusetts, and I will go to vote in Cambridge for McCain just to fulfill my patriotic duty. I still hope that John McCain will become the winner of this presidential election.”
I asked Professor Pipes for his opinion about the Democratic nominee and his program. He told me Barack Obama was talking much about “change” but what change has he set his mind on? When John McCain focused on security matters and stabilizing the American constitutional order and the economy, Barack Obama was advocating a sort of socialist agenda, proposing to the Americans some kind of welfare state by equal “spreading of wealth.”
“There haven’t been such elections in my lifetime,” Professor Pipes said. What’s so particular about this one, I asked? He replied thoughtfully: “It isn’t about race, as that might not be the main problem for the Americans now, as it was in the 1960s. Nor it is about the recent financial breakdown and economic crisis, which really is not the fault of the Bush Administration, in spite of many erroneous FED decisions made by Alan Greenspan, who was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, covering the terms of office of four U.S. Presidents.  This election is about the future form of government of the United States and the country’s Constitutional order.”
So this election is about America’s future, we both agreed. Professor Richard Pipes expressed his hope for John McCain’s victory. “A Republican President could become a check-and-balance versus the Democratic-dominated Congress,” he told me. “And what if Senator Barack Obama will win the election on Tuesday and become the 44th U.S. President,” I asked. “He will have to adapt to the American system and he will have to solve difficult problems and respond to grave challenges. There won’t be a new American Revolution just because Barack Obama and not John McCain is President.”
I was glad to discuss all that with Professor Richard Pipes and listen to his opinions. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen, who was exceptionally lucky to escape from Nazi-occupied Poland in September 1939, to reach to the American shore in 1940 and get a chance to find there the best opportunity for himself. His great chance was the American open society and individual freedom. Barack Hussein Obama, a would-be-President, got the same chance and he shouldn’t spoil the Constitutional system that enabled his own advance. Professor Richard Pipes always expressed his great confidence in the United States and his optimism as to America’s future. Barack Obama repeated so many times that he “loves the United States” and he’s “proud of his country.” Let him prove it now.

John the Patriot

“It is a race that pits the iconoclast against the newcomer, the heroic prisoner of war against the first African American nominated by a major party,” by these words PBS Frontline introduced their documentary The Choice 2008 shown also on Polish TV during the weekend preceding the November 4 Election Day. I watched this documentary, finding it very interesting and in a way impartial, as compared to most of the pro-Obama media productions.
I think, this TV documentary in its many interviews and filmed presentations got to the “main core” of John McCain’s true character and performance. His fellow prisoner of war, Orson Swindle, who spent seven years (1966-1973) in North Vietnamese captivity, told about McCain: “He’s got a sense of honor, a sense of integrity, a sense of being a man, of being courageous, of not being just milquetoast, compliant with the norms. He’s adventuresome. Those are things he is today, and I contend he was that way when he was a kid. …”
And Robert Timberg, the author of a book John McCain: An American Odyssey and The Nightingale’s Song, answered a reporter’s question about McCain’s leadership qualities: “…I think the best leaders are those who are the most original thinkers, those who look to what they see as the right way to do something, and do whatever it takes to advance it. John McCain is not the kind of guy who was simply going to follow orders blindly. It doesn’t mean he’s going to refuse to carry out orders, but the best officers will turn to their commanding officer and say, “Sir, I think there’s a better way to do this.” And I think the better commanding officers are happy to hear better ways to do things. …”
When I look back at John McCain’s background and his past life, I find many controversial moments. Some people contest his plight in the Communist PoW camp and accuse him of “treason.” But I know what had happened to American pilots there in Hanoi Hilton and The Plantation. And I can’t agree with an article published by The Times of London about McCain on October 25, featuring nice interviews with Tran Trong Duet, a former POW prison commander and other North Vietnamese security officers. “I never tortured or mistreated the PoWs and nor did my staff,” says Mr Duyet in contradiction of Mr McCain’s account and those of other prisoners. “The Americans were dropping bombs on military and civilian targets – so it’s not as if they had important information we needed to extract.” Mr Duyet says that he sympathises with Mr McCain and other PoWs for claiming that they were tortured. “It’s up to the Americans to decide whether or not he counts as a hero. He was very brave, very manly, he dared to argue with me and he was very intelligent. But all the talk of being tortured is for the sake of votes.”
Who of the former Communist security officers would admit to torturing prisoners of war, even 41 years after? Some media reporters just try to put dirt on John McCain’s wartime history. I was in Hanoi, under American bombs, in 1967, a few months before John McCain was shot down. As member of the International Control Commission (and a covert intelligence agent), I was often called to attend press conferences in Hanoi, where captured American pilots were shown to the public to “confess their crimes.” Each time it was a pitiful and degrading show and the victims were drugged or forcibly frightened and pushed to “confess” along the Communist propaganda lines. We all knew the US pilots were treated badly, probably tortured and certainly put through psychological pressure and mind-control experiments, preformed by Soviet and Cuban interrogators. John McCain was no exception because he refused to be exchanged for North Vietnamese or Viet-Cong important prisoners held by Americans. He was a “high value” PoW for the Communists, but also a patriotic and rebellious man that they couldn’t use for their goals.
The Vietnam war and his PoW years in Hanoi did not break John McCain but hardened him and pushed him into a political career after his release in 1973. By the way, in 1973 I was again in Vietnam, in the North and South. One of my duties was to observe the exchange of PoWs between the North, the Viet Cong and the South. I will never forget these terrible scenes…
It is my deepest conviction and the most positive feeling that Senator John McCain is fully “fit to command” as a possible future 44th President of the United States. His military family background, his wartime experience, education and a longtime public service record, as well as his uncompromising devotion to the principle “my country first” predestinate him to the highest state office.
But it is up to the American voters to decide whom they will vote for on Tuesday, November 4, 2008.
© David Dastych
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David Dastych, 66 is a veteran journalist, writing for Polish and foreign media. He was also a businessman and consultant to foreign business, one time an associate director of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Poland. Now he owns and operates an international media agency in Warsaw. David runs David’s Media Agency.

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