Nasty wins in short term political elections – but nasty does not serve well as a way of life – or as a way of domestic or foreign policy. But that is what the country has experienced. So now we have a new election. The election of 2008 will be studied closely by historians. This is one of those pivotal (hopefully) global elections that either corrects or affirms the course of humanity for the next several decades.
President George W. Bush played the ‘nasty card’ several times in two Presidential campaigns. He won both elections. John McCain and Al Gore were both recipients of his venom in 2000. John Kerry took his lumps in 2004. So what, Bush won didn’t he? Yes – he did – and the country lost. The affirmation of nasty as the road to victory carried over into the Bush Administration. The formation and execution of policy decisions that represent all of us to the world have been based on a fundamental premise of nastiness as the means to an end.
Grasping the totality of a Presidential campaign is difficult – even for the experienced political junkies. So let’s reduce this quality down to more personal terms. In the politically correct world of today we encapsulate nasty people in the category of ‘Angry.” When we see a grumpy old man with a cane snap at the clerk at Wal-Mart we mutter to our fellow shoppers, “Oooh, he is an Angry Man.” Everyone in the check out line nods their approval. Yes, they all agree, his problem is unresolved anger from his childhood – everyone has been in therapy and they know the jargon. Then the store manager shows up and grants the grumpy old man the discount demanded on his two cans of chicken soup.
What is the lesson here? Nasty works! Angry old men get their way because everyone just wants to go home and fire up the grill. Most will stir the hot coals, turn the ribs, and drink their beer and laugh as they tell the story of the nasty old man at Wal-Mart. The cynical nasty old man goes home and warms up a can of chicken soup and and eats by himself as he watches Fox News. He grumbles, “The audacity of hopelessness, bah – humbug!”
So it is with ‘nasty’ as foreign and domestic policy. The United States sits alone, sipping the bitter soup of vengeance and anger. Our fictional Wal-Mart, based in Saudi Arabia, granted the nasty old man a ten percent discount on the 100 percent markup. The grumpy old man savors his small victory while Saudi Arabia builds new buildings and lends money to the Bin Ladens.
John McCain has adopted the campaign tactics of King George W. Bush. And he is savoring his small victories. He is learning that nasty is a good way of life, as did King George.
I am standing about thee heads back in the check out line – watching the transaction unfold. My fellow shoppers and I all know that the Grumpy Old Man – John McCain – will win a small victory in the daily news cycle.
I will go home, fire up the smoker, rub the ribs, and feel grateful that some candidates actually have the audacity to hope.