Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pre-Soaking Your Sane

Will John McCain finally receive the Bob Dole "I have it coming, it's mine, goddammit, get your grubby mitts off it!" nomination? It's looking more and more that way. Good for him, I guess. Considering the rotting imperial wreck of whatever nation remains, he'll need all the positive vibes he can grab. As for the rest of us . . .

I love watching these late night victory celebrations. You'd think that we live in some robust democracy, all songs, balloons and cheers from the faithful, as the smiling ghosts of Jefferson and Lincoln float above, high-fiving and bumping chests. It's quite a show, and a necessary one, given the dreadful reality of our depoliticized world. If nothing else, we Americans play Make Believe better than the most gifted poseur you can name. Fantasy is Job One, and our endless elections are perhaps the most vibrant examples of this national mindset.

What if it's McCain vs. Hillary in November? Oh man, that would be a blast to witness. Two nearly identical choices for imperial manager, the one slight difference being that McCain says he's opposed to torture, while Hillary must wait to check wind velocity and direction. I can see the liberals twisting themselves into numerous knots trying to justify a Hillary vote over McCain, assuring each other that it's the right thing to do, and of course reaching back to Bill's criminal years for inspiration. You mules better hope that Saint Obama gets the nod instead. At least with him, the fantasy is easier to pull off. Change! Hope! Stardust! Ponies! If I ruled the world . . .

Funny thing is, not that long ago, McCain was the liberals' favorite Republican, especially in comparison to the Bushes. His time in a North Vietnamese cell earned McCain a lot of guilt cred among Bill Clinton's groupies, who felt bad backing a draft dodger over a POW. So, they tried to have it both ways: Clinton, Hero President; McCain, War Hero and All Around Good Guy.

I remember it all too well.

Whenever I appeared on Alan Colmes' late night radio show in New York, I'd hear this uttered by Alan and his many liberal guests. One night it got really gooey. I was on with Peter Bales, some history teacher/stand up comic who boomed and blustered about his "superior" intellect and deep grasp of American history, and with Jaid Barrymore, mother of Drew and walking soap opera, who also informed me of her massive brain power. Between these two, the studio was a tight fit. But I did manage some breathing space.

At one point, Colmes (who I mercilessly teased about being Sean Hannity's punching bag -- "Is it the money, Alan? The screen time?") asked the panel if John McCain was a war hero. Bales puffed out his chest, tilted his head to the side, weighed the issue, then pronounced that, yes, McCain was indeed a war hero. Barrymore quickly chimed in, adding her assent, while Colmes breathlessly spoke of how honored he was to have personally met McCain and basked in his glow.

Then they all turned to me.

"Well," I said, hesitating a moment, for I knew my answer would elicit some hostility, "I'm not sure how heroic it is to incinerate Vietnamese children."

"OHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" was the collective reply.

Colmes told me I was tasteless. Barrymore said I should be ashamed of myself. Bales puffed out his chest yet again (he did this a lot during the three-hour show) and demanded to know whether I considered McCain a war criminal.

"No. Not personally. McCain didn't create the policy. The war criminals were in Washington."

Still, I added, that doesn't exonerate McCain for dropping bombs on the Vietnamese.

"Oh!" squeaked Barrymore. "What should he have dropped instead -- birthday presents?"

The slagging went on for a little while longer. Here I was, in the middle of three Clinton liberals, reminding them why McCain ended up in a POW cell. Not that I supported torture or reprisal beatings, but some context was in order. The Vietnamese didn't sneak into the States and kidnap McCain from his snug bed. The three couldn't care less. What's more, they defended the U.S. bombing of Vietnam, at least so long as McCain was doing the killing. It was a handy reminder of how crazed liberals become when they taste a little blood.

Afterward, in the building's lobby, Barrymore took me aside and said that if I wanted to have a career as a media talking head, there were certain things I shouldn't say. At the time, she was a regular on Howard Stern, so Barrymore knew of what she spoke, or so she told me. Bales, who had been hitting on Barrymore during the commercial breaks, waited impatiently for her to finish advising me. Finally, they both left, and as I waited for the car service to arrive, two words kept spinning in my head.

"Birthday presents?"