That comment

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copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

“That one?”

No, I don’t think John McCain had any racial intent when he oddly referred to Barack Obama as “that one” during last night’s debate. But it was dismissive and a poor choice of words, especially in light of McCain’s nasty anti-Obama ad, “The One,” from earlier this year. In debates, it’s often the little things that stick, and “That one” just might be that thing for this one. My latest toon, “What’s in an Article?,” (Archive 0835) reflects on the moment.

Back in seven . . .


To Know Thy Friend Kissinger

Henry Kissinger: High Level Negotiations with Iran

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.

Tonight, during the first Presidential Debate, in the year 2008, John McCain empathically claimed to know his chum of more than thirty years.  The Arizona Senator strongly stated former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, would think Barack Obama wrong.  Senator McCain repeatedly reassured the public that the Ambassador would not think it wise to negotiate with rogue nations such as Iran.  John Sidney McCain reminded us of the refrain, Barack Obama is “naïve.”  Yet, it might be puerile to ponder that friendship ensures explicit agreement.  Relationships may remind us of a capricious certainty and why countries engage in combat.

The implication, or indeed, the powerful proclamation, that potential President Barack Obama was “wrong” on Iran was one John McCain offered with confidence and conviction.  Yet, the assertion was perhaps, inaccurate.  After the debate, in retrospect, or in support of the Republican Party, Secretary Kissinger reflected upon his personal alliances rather than his previously stated philosophy.  

“Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level.  My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain.  We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.”

Nonetheless, the record remains, twisted, and turned on its technical edge as it now is by the former Secretary of State.  Perchance, neither Presidential candidate was wrong or right.  Perhaps, this scenario illustrates why the world is not at peace.  People vehemently profess, someone is either correct or in error.  Humans often sense another is against us, attacking us, an adversary, rather than a person with a point of view.  In actuality, reality is personal and at times political,

Shades that might bring serenity are ignored and abhorred.  Avoidance and aversion create the combative circumstances that currently exist in a debate and within diplomacy.

Let us consider the nuances too frequently overlooked.  Only days earlier, the words tripped off the tongue of John’s friend Henry.  Secretary of State Kissinger avowed, “I am in favor of negotiating with Iran.  And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it.  And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the Secretary of State level…”  

Henry Kissinger, when asked if he thought it wise to confer at very high level at the outset, at the earliest possible moment, the long time acquaintance of Arizona Senator John McCain, said unequivocally, “Exactly!”  The question might be how high?  Does the answer vary if the inquiry is made before or after an partisan parleys?

A well-regarded attaché, such as Kissinger is known to be, advocated for communication between countries.  His words were . . . “Initially, yes.  And I always believed that the best way to begin a negotiation is to tell the other side exactly what you have in mind and what you are – what the outcome is that you’re trying to achieve so that they have something that they can react to . . . So if we go into a negotiation, we ought to have a clear understanding of what is it we’re trying to prevent.  What is it going to do if we can’t achieve what we’re talking about?  But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.  Yet . . .

Apparently, contrary to John McCain, who appeared angered by the perception that his pal might have professed as he did, Henry Kissinger thinks it best to put forth the American vision of a stable Middle East, or did.  

The Statesman, in an earlier recorded conference with fellow former Secretaries of States expressed a belief that if positions are presented in person,  there is an opportunity to study proposals.  The suggestion is, people can come to terms if the terms are stated in a manner that allows for discussion.

Days ago, Henry Kissinger pointedly proclaimed, if we are to effectively work together we must come to the table.  Our intention need be one of cooperation.  Perchance, Secretary Kissinger, an Ambassador, understood what his acquaintance, Presidential aspirant John McCain does not.  The purpose of peace talks is to avoid war, not create greater reasons for combat.

Tonight, the insight into how to create peace is gone. The Party’s are at war.  All is fair and nothing is in love and battle.

Earlier persons who heard the words might have believed, Envoy Kissinger had the experience John McCain lacks.  It would seem the esteemed Henry Kissinger knew empathy is indeed, the greatest educator.  An audience might have mused, Kissinger had faith a Chief Officer cannot command unless he communicates.  People could have asserted as they thought the Secretary had, communication requires give and take.  It would have seemed “(T)his notion by not talking to people we are punishing them has not worked . . . our efforts of isolation have actually accelerated (their) efforts to get nuclear weapons.”  In the recent past, people might have trusted what Barack Obama concluded was as a statement released by Henry Kissinger a week earlier.  News reports affirmed what many thought fact.

Kissinger Backs Direct Talks ‘Without Conditions’ with Iran

ABC News’ Rachel Martin Reports: Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger today told an audience in Washington, DC that the U.S. should negotiate with Iran “without conditions” and that the next President should begin such negotiations at a high level

The former Nixon and Ford U.S. Secretary of State early in the year indicated his belief that the U.S. should hold direct talks with Iran when speaking to Bloomberg Television.

Kissinger spoke at a CNN sponsored forum at George Washington University along with other former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, James Baker III, Warren Christopher, and Colin Powell.  The leaders were asked to pinpoint the major challenges the next president will face around the world and to offer advice about how to handle those critical issues.  The secretaries named the fight against terrorism, restoring America’s reputation abroad, re-building the country’s economic power, and global climate change as atop priority.

There seemed to be a consensus.  Global harmony can come if a Commander-In-Chief is not intent on a hundred year war.  Henry Kissinger shared, “I agree with what my colleagues have said about the importance of reaching out to the rest of the world.”  However . . .

While the population prays for peace, and hopes to honor the philosophy, perpetual battles need not be if world leaders would only look each other in the eye before they presume the other President or Premiere to be an enemy, our diplomats may not share this belief  

One might have mused, Henry Kissinger, through his conversations with many Prime Ministers learned what the maverick McCain has not discovered.  Yet . . .

The American people could have acclaimed as they thought Mister Kissinger had, whether a person shoots from the hip or the lip, if an individual fires before he or she sees the whites of another person’s eyes, this person may accidentally kill one who would have never been an adversary.

Perchance, Secretary of State Kissinger, and the other Heads of State, understood, the power one has when they listen, or at least some did days ago.  Secretary Kissinger may or may not have appreciated the idea as numerous imagined.  

Might John McCain have ever focused on what were the words or wisdom of the man he considers his friend, Henry Kissinger, the secretary may not have felt a need to elucidate his assertion.

Had the supposed reformer John McCain acknowledged as an experienced veteran might have, tonight an envoy, Mister Kissinger could have been content to share what he may have learned in countless conferences.  People, when treated with respect, reciprocate.  Possibly, if Senator McCain had thought to listen carefully, earlier, had he closely connected to what was expressed and not his personal, political preference, Secretary of State Kissinger would not have had to revise, clarify, his statements post haste.

Granted, all may agree, then and now, there are times when an indignant dictatorial authority comes to a consultation with a closed mind.  Nonetheless, individuals might trust the mere presence of another illustrates a willingness to work.  Would it not be wondrous if Senator John McCain, or the man who might later be identified as his  possible predecessor, President Bush realized, reverence remains the more significant tool for negotiation.  Would it not be wondrous if Mister Kissinger again accepted this truth.

Henry Kissinger had stated, robustly, it best to put forth the American vision.  However, that was long ago, days earlier.  Perhaps the Secretary’s words were not specific enough.  This is another moment, one mired in contentiousness.  After the first Presidential debate American wonders, and argues. Can the public know with confidence what is true, or must the people depend on mutable mentions, belated memorandums, and missives written after the (f)act.

From what the American audience heard tonight, with John McCain in the Oval Office, the aspiration will be war, without conditions, rather than communication without conditions.  Secretary Kissinger will support this decision or not, dependent on the day.  Peace will not have a chance if a Commander-In-Chief cannot and does not acknowledge the words of his ally, or if his associate for more than thirty years, former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger no longer avows the impression he made.  

Citizens of this country might muse; will tranquility be possible if our President does not consider the words of a foe or a friend, or if an supporter sways with the wind, in desire for a political win.  This first Presidential debate may have provided the American people with reason to fear.  Words are weapons and those who vie for world power want war.

Sources for the Experience of an Envoy . . .

Theater of the Absurd. Cast of Characters; McCain Bush

David Letterman Reacts to John McCain Suspending Campaign

Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.

The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

~ Ambrose Bierce (June 24, 1842 – 1914) American Editorialist, Journalist, Author, Satirist

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.

Two issues of national import flooded the airwaves on Wednesday, September 24, 2008.  On every radio and television station, broadcasters spoke of the economy and the elections.  Journalists reported, tonight, the current President of the United States will address the nation,  One of the persons who hopes to occupy the Oval Office after George W. Bush departs will not speak directly to the people.  For Senator John McCain, the fierce urgency of now is offered as the reason he will  suspend his campaign.  The Presidential aspirant requested his rival do as he decrees correct, delay the debates.  Whilst an audience estimated to be near one hundred (100) million anxiously awaits word from the self-proclaimed “reformer,” John McCain muses his presence in Oxford, Mississippi would be unwise.  As Americans have witnessed on the campaign trail, enter one Grand Old Party boy; exit the other.  Some suggest the Republican President and the Party nominee are rapturous; they love theatre of the absurd.

In this play, the two performers tap dance.  The Republican flit requires the partners to stay separate as much as possible.  Solo recitals are routine in a production such as this.

Observers reflect; the duet, John Sidney McCain and George Walker Bush, tango in tandem.  History might suggest the pair work hard to limit joint appearances.  Neither prefers to be associated with the problems of the other.  George W. Bush worries of his base, and John fears he might be linked to the President’s follies, least of which is the current economic crisis.  John Sidney McCain wishes to be associated with this President’s decisions if he can be viewed as the one who swooped in to save the day, to deal with the dilemma as only he can.

As a rule, or in this script, the President and his presumed replacement will share a stage only if convenient.  However, if the forces of nature can provide cause for a more remote union, no one will complain, least of all John McCain.  In truth, many Republicans were relieved when recent circumstances caused a change in plans.  Hurricane Gustav may have brought fear to those in its path.  However, for delegates, the storm was reason for silent rejoice.  The present fiscal tempest might not be as fortuitous.

When President Bush thought it prudent to remain in Washington during the recent Convention his role was acted out as written.  The Commander stood behind the curtain.  He was but a vision projected on the screen.  For a second he was there.  Then, he was quickly gone and forgotten.

That scene was just as advisers prefer.  Wednesday night, as the fiscal catastrophe looms, John McCain and the Republican Party may not be as lucky.

In Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the presumed soon-to-be President, Senator John McCain, was on center stage, away from the current Commander-In-Chief, whose policies bring McCain’s poll numbers down.  Recent realities preclude such a distance.  John McCain and his public relations person were forced to consider, what might the candidate do.

The play must go on.  The pair need be as players in an Elizabethan comic tragedy.  Appearances need be well-choreographed  It is essential the actors avoid confusion, The duo is only dynamic if they are not thought of as identical.  Each fears that if the public sees one with the other the unmistakable mirror imagine may boggle the mind.  Yet, bailouts beckon.  The Senator must meet with the present President if he is to be thought of as the solution, the change candidate.

Hence, on Wednesday, September 24, 2008, for a moment each emerged in the vanguard. As Americans tuned into the news, the drama of Presidential politics, past and present, played out.  Word was, they would again the following day.  The President appealed for a joint session.  John McCain and George W. Bush each thought a meeting might work to the benefit of both.  Of course, out of a deep respect for decorum, hopeful Barack Obama was also invited.  

President Bush exclaims the Big-business Bailout is vital to the economy.  Hence, he has pledged to  meet With McCain and Obama.  It is fascinating to consider, the conference will take place behind closed doors.  

The partners in policy will not be photographed together for more than a moment.  The façade of a cordial friendship will be maintained.  However, the public will be reminded, between the two, there is nothing more than pleasantries.  This matter is of massive significance.  Main Street could crumble.  Wall Street is already in dire straits.  If this affair is not addressed immediately the nation could falter; the Capitalist system might fail as all other ventures the President engaged in have.

The people were also told, ten days after the economic emergency became known, George W. Bush would publicly discuss the calamity of currency concerns.  Subsequently, within seconds of the first announcement, the potential Chief Executive, John McCain publicized, on Friday night, he, would forego his scheduled appearance at the first Presidential debate.  

One mouth opened and another closed.  Each action was prompted by a need to emerge as Presidential.  Be it in an election or on economic policy, George W. Bush and John McCain share a goal.  Each wishes to look at ease and not act as flustered.

The aspirant from Arizona proclaimed, talk of the eminent election, must not preclude the greater quandary; how might America field this fiscal folly.  That discussion, Senator McCain reasoned must remain in Washington.  The Senator concluded he would suspend his campaign, and fly off to the Hill.  

The presumed soon-to-be President said he must speak to the financial alarm sounded well over a week ago.  However, the conversation would not be with the American people.  Exit, stage East, or is it West Wing

President Bush, on the other hand, “decided” he could no longer hide behind the walls of the White House.  If George W. Bush was to preserve his legacy as a Commander in control of the country, must take to the podium once again.

As John McCain departs, George Walker Bush enters.  The characters, interchangeable, periodically reverse roles.  The desire for change among the electorate necessitates these moves.  When President Bush is out of sight,  John McCain seeks the limelight.

President Bush chose to be less prominent as the news of fiscal debacle was delivered.  Then, the challenger, McCain was very visible.  Senator McCain voiced his immense concern immediately.  First, as a President might do, Mister McCain assured the public, the “fundamentals were still strong.”  Hours later, when he realized his evaluation was erroneous, Senator McCain offered a plan.  Proudly, and promptly, the confident McCain said, fire the Securities and Exchange Commissioner, Christopher Cox.  The distance between  the incumbent President and John must be reintroduced to the dance.

John McCain chided his challenger Barack Obama for not being as decisive as he.  The Arizona rebel need not compare himself to the secluded stalwart President. Impressed with his own rapid response to a catastrophe, the Senator McCain frequently flaunted; he had not hesitated.  Instinctively he shot from the hip, or the lip.  Hurriedly John S. McCain suggested what he might do were he in the Oval Office.

However, the impulsive riposte John McCain presented to a frightful financial condition did not calm conventional constituents who are deeply invested in the market and the maverick’s image.  Indeed, some distinguished fellows such as conservative Columnist George Will trembled at the thought of what a man with the temperament of John McCain might do once secure in his seat on Pennsylvania Avenue.

While the collective consensus among Republicans, as well as Democrats is, it is time for a change, a change in command at the Securities and Exchange Commission did not seem a substantive solution to a problem so profound it affects world markets, Wall Street and Main Street.  

Many agree; America can no longer stay the course.  The path the Bush Administration took has destroyed our credit and credibility.  Nonetheless, the people hoped for a more measured response than the one John McCain offered.  This might be the reason the current President decided to step forward again.  Perhaps, the previously elected Chief Executive could better explain the monetary menagerie than his protégé had.

Certainly, surrogates for George W. Bush had not clarified what seemed an incomprehensible mess, although they tried.  

Days ago, the Bush appointees called for a seven hundred billion dollar ($700) bailout.  This amount would be in addition to billions loaned to financial institutions weeks and months earlier.  Congress heard the arguments.  Anxious citizens also tuned in.  

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke testified before the Joint Economic Committee.  He warned lawmakers of the “grave threat.” Banks, businesses, and the American people might find it near impossible to secure a loan.  Economic conditions have deteriorated. Soon the monetary system will be severely hampered.  The future is grim.  Chairman Bernanke claims Congress must act post haste.

More than a week ago, United States Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson called for the creation of a massive government “war chest.”  His proposal expressed an immediate need to take illiquid assets off the books of banks and other financial firms.  Secretary Paulson, and hence, the Administration he represents, hoped that if Congress, and the American public adopted this strategy credit markets would again be open.  For too long now, for increasingly large segments of the business world, the markets have been closed.  Financially, mortgage-related debt strangled the free enterprise system.

While the words of those in charge of monetary affairs were audible, the people, even economists, and market experts did not comprehend the specifics. John McCain’s statements had not reassured.

The people sought more.  The public wanted solace from a situation, they were told, is dire.  Yet, tonight countless citizens may have realized neither man could supply the answers the common folk crave.

The idea of bailout burgeoned.  The audience became impatient.  The viewers, American people, saw no vision.  All the electorate became anxious.  It had been ten days without a word from the presumed main character, George W. Bush.  After word of the economic emergency first emerged, the President was near silent.

The script called for more action.  Finally, the declared “lame duck” President would appear.  He would publicly discuss the calamity of currency concerns.  The persons who produce an image understood without the presence of Mister Bush spectators and speculators were left to wonder; what would be.  Might the maverick McCain make a move and assert his decisiveness.  The nominee tried to calm fears.  He presented a plan.  However, these were not enough to alter the downward fiscal spiral.

Therefore, it had to be announced.  George W. Bush would again take center stage.  President Bush, “decided” he could no longer hide behind the walls of the White House.  If George W. Bush was to preserve his legacy as a Commander, in control of the country, he must take to the podium once again.

Subsequently, within seconds of the first announcement, the potential Chief Executive, John McCain publicized, on Friday night, he, would forego his scheduled appearance at the first Presidential debate.  

One mouth opened and another closed.  Each action was prompted by a need to appear as Presidential.  Be it in an election or on economic policy, George W. Bush and John McCain share a goal.  Each wishes to look at ease and not act as if they are flustered.  Ultimately, they opted for a mere moment the two would stand together as one.  It seemed applause would come only through a cooperative effort.

Here we are today, back where we started.  The curtain opens.  The aspirant from Arizona and the man who now resides in the White House stand together on stage.  It is Wednesday, September 24th.  

A person of quality who asks to be President, or one who has been selected to serve as our nation’s Chief Executive, shows up, speaks to the people, and struggles to share his proposals, disappears, only to arise again.  The resurrection, the renaissance, and the reality revealed.

The debate on Friday was to focus on Mr. McCain’s perceived strength, foreign policy. Mr. McCain had not planned to devote large blocks of time to debate practice as did Mr. Obama, who was holing up with a tight circle of advisers at a hotel in Clearwater, Fla., on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to prepare. Mr. McCain had a preparatory session on Wednesday afternoon at the Morgan Library in Manhattan, but advisers said it had been interrupted by his decision, announced immediately afterward, to suspend his campaign.

Astounding.  Fascinating.  Each of McCain’s action demonstrates he is no more ready to Command in a crisis than his stand-in, alter-ego, his counterpart, George W. Bush.  The audience wonders will the curtain ever close.

The Program Bill . . .