Monday, June 30, 2008

McCain Points: Respecting Failure

Much as I love the incessant fetishizing of John McCain's military service which has occurred and undoubtedly will continue to occur I think it would be damned terrific if someone could please explain why the hell we have to honor and respect John McCain's inability to get a real job.

If you missed it apparently General Wesley Clark said something and shortly thereafter Obama totally rejected what Wesley Clark said because...shit if I know why. Here's what Wesley Clark said, in part:

Because in the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk. It's a matter of gauging your opponents, and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions.
Yup, Wesley Clark said true things. John McCain was in the Armed Forces, John McCain fought in Vietnam, John McCain was a P.O.W., but John McCain was never president, never made presidential decisions. And for some reason General Wesley Clark felt compelled to, you know, FUCKING SAY SO. For shame. By the way, I said, "in part" because I wanted to address this wonderful snarky comment by General Wesley Clark on its own:
I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war.
Isn't that terrific?

Why do we have to honor and respect John McCain? Has it not occurred to anyone, ever, that we ought to make fun of the decrepit old shit for being caught, that the noteworthy portion of his story results from his failure to avoid failure? Sure he flew planes in Vietnam, but he also failed to avoid capture, failed to not fail. Of all the qualifications that ought to be required to be President I'm certain that "captured by fucking gooks" is nowhere near the list.

Sure, John McCain learned valuable lessons from his capture such as "I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.." And I am happy to honor and respect his blatant racism. But do we really need to respect his failure? Do we need to honor his "service as a prisoner of war," his service of sitting in a cell in Vietnam? Do we really need to continue fetishizing and romanticing military service out of some antiquated notion that it's keen to shoot people? I contend that we do not. And it would be fucking awesome if Obama followed General Wesley Clark's lead and called McCain a "Gook Hating racist" instead of lauding him with faux praise.

The easiest way to win an argument is to not grant your opponent's premise. And "we must respect military service" is a premise which is just begging to be shot out of the air, as it were.

10 comments:

Roscoe said...

I keep coming back to this, wanting to comment.. and then stopping myself.

_J_ said...

Well that's silly.

Roscoe said...

perhaps.

_J_ said...

I'm interested by this. When I write a rant with which people agree they post that they agree. When I write a rant with which people do not agree they post the faults they find.

When I write "Do we really need to continue fetishizing and romanticing military service out of some antiquated notion that it's keen to shoot people?" no one says a word.

And that's not really something towards which one can be indifferent.

Roscoe said...

I don't agree.. but I can't find the correct words to disagree..

because you went off on a number of tangents to your initial complaint.

the whole McCain is being praised for failure parts, etc. are tangential to the initial complaint of Clark. That his military service does not automatically qualify him for, nor is especially applicable to presidential service.

I'd go so far as to argue we don't fetishize service for that notion, or rather, that's not the primary fetishization, though it certainly is an unstated factor for some. Rather, we fetishize the service as literally that. Service towards the country. We lionize the service, and in doing so, blur the focus of the praise.

_J_ said...

"Service towards the country. We lionize the service, and in doing so, blur the focus of the praise."

We call it "Military service", but it is a job; they receive pay, they receive benefits. Yes, they're working for the government, but so do postal employees. Yes, they're fighting in a war, but so are Blackwater employees.

Are we tied up on the vocabulary? Is it the phrase "servicemen/servicewomen" that compells us? Is it "military service"? Those are just expressions. There is no "Service" component to it.

Fed Ex:Post Office::Blackwater:Army

Where does "service" come out of that?

Is it the indoctrination of sacrifice for one's country...oh, and the benefits and the free college? Is it the delusion that if people weren't dying in a desert our malls would blow up?

Because, really? The whole infantry thing is pretty damned needless. And it is not as if the people doing it aren't getting anything out of it.

Sure, there is a higher likelihood of death in the army than, say, working at the post office (insert stupid joke), but isn't that more indicative of the soldier's inability to assess cost/benefit relationships?

Roscoe said...

See.. you're not reacting to the actual job being done, though..

You're reacting to the knee-jerk blind praise or qualification that service holds for other people.

Let me spin your stance around for a moment. Ought we be outraged at issues like the perennial controversy surrounding Vetran's Affairs and VA Hopsitals? Especially along the lines of Walter Reed, but even in general, they tend to be underfunded... Ostensibly, that's just part of the job, and soldiers ought to know that going into it, yes? That the benefits of this job are governmental, and thus liable to be in extreme flux?

For that matter, what about other benefits.. the GI Bill that a lot of State Guard administrations weren't capable of paying.. would you say it's incumbent upon the guardsmen to deal with that?

My point is you don't focus on the soldier, you focus on the mistaken view. And you don't do THAT, by focusing on the weaponry or the role of the soldier. You do that by doing what Clark did. Point out how the role of soldier does not prepare one for the needs of other roles, FOR WHICH, it is being used as credentials.

Roscoe said...

Put another way, when presented with a topic, you tell me to focus on the topic, and not my interpretations of it.

Focus on your issue - People's misinterpretations of service as credential, and not the service itself.....

kylebrown said...

"We call it "Military service", but it is a job."

If, by a job, you mean, that you sign a contract to give up a portion of your life your life, in which you can not quit or resign under penalty of law yeah. If, by a job, you mean, that you can be killed while working, and your "employer" has no liability to pay for damages as a result of your death, then yeah.

_J_ said...

"Focus on your issue - People's misinterpretations of service as credential, and not the service itself....."

But whence the reverence, whence the respect? Why "service"? Why denote some sort of meaning or anything onto a performed task?

Yes, we can set up a bunch of flags and play the Top Gun theme song. But that's just rhetorical bullshit meant to craft a viewpoint. It's romanticized.


"If, by a job, you mean, that you sign a contract to give up a portion of your life your life, in which you can not quit or resign under penalty of law yeah. If, by a job, you mean, that you can be killed while working, and your "employer" has no liability to pay for damages as a result of your death, then yeah."

Yup...those are the particulars of that government job.

I understand that we as a society have to foster this notion of respect, honor, nobility, etc. for military service to compel people to "serve their country" and voluntarily get shot. If we did not do that then no one would join the military.

But can't we also acknowledge that?