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No, I am not calling Senator John McCain a coward. I was raised better than that. I respect both the former POW and his choice of running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Besides, 60 percent of those polled in one survey said he did much better than expected in the first presidential debate between him and Barack Obama. But while this writer is not hoisting the unenviable label of “coward” on the Arizona senator, I will submit that McCain’s initial position not to debate Obama last Friday night did not inspire confidence--even among members of his own Republican party. For a certainty, it was not the Vietnam vet’s most shinning moment in his bid for the presidency. Still, I am beholden by Scripture to respect our civic leaders, and I am only too pleased to comply. The apostle Paul wrote his understudy Timothy these compelling words:
“I therefore exhort, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, offerings of thanks, be made concerning all sorts of men, concerning kings and all those who are in high station; in order that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousness.” (1 Tim. 2:1, 2) This exhortation is applicable to Christians today. Even so, professed Christian minister and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a McCain supporter, respectfully characterized McCain’s move as a “huge mistake.” The former Arkansas governor said of McCain: “You can’t just say, ‘World, stop for a moment. I’m going to cancel everything.” What prompted this criticism was McCain’s initial canceling of last Friday’s Obama debate date. “I’m directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this [Wall Street financial bailout] crisis,” announced McCain. The Commission wasn’t buying it. Neither did Obama bite.
Like Huckabee, Obama also took umbrage with “The McCain Misstep.” ‘Why can’t he do two things at once?’ Obama queried, referring to handling the $700 billion bailout issue and the presidential debate. Under pressure and harsh criticism from multiple sources McCain did an about face and attended the debate. And though he did better than expected, the damage was done. Closing the barn doors after the cows escaped would serve no useful purpose. The genie was out of the bottle. Supporters of Obama say that when former presidential candidate Bob Kerry adjusted his position, the Republicans were quick to say he “flip-flopped.” Such language, they decry, is not used in the case of McCain. “Can you imagine the Commander-In-Chief leading a charge in the so-called War on Terror and then, in the middle of the campaign, saying, ‘Well, I changed my mind. Let’s turn back’?” asks one critic. “Such a scenario wouldn’t exactly boost morale now would it?” he asks with a sarcastic hint.
True enough, the Scriptures show that concern over a timid soldier was legitimate. Because of this commanders were instructed to ask: “Is there a man here who is wavering in resolve and afraid? Let him go home right now so that he doesn’t infect his fellows with his timidity and cowardly spirit.’” (Deut. 20:8; Message Bible) A soldier was not sinning by being pusillanimous. However, so that this spirit would not contaminate the company, God wanted the men separated from the boys. With this in mind, when Jehovah wanted to trim Judge Gideon’s military force in numbers for a specific mission, He said to Gideon: “You have too large an army with you. I can’t turn Midian over to them like this—they’ll take all the credit, saying, ‘I did it all myself,’ and forget about me. Make a public announcement: ‘Anyone afraid, anyone who has any qualms at all, may leave Mount Gilead now and go home.’ Twenty-two companies headed for home. Ten companies were left.” (Judges 7:2, 3; Message Bible) Having been a soldier himself McCain certainly can relate.
Interestingly, along the line of soldiers on the battlefield mentioned during the debate, McCain may have shot himself several times in the same foot with bullets meant for Barack Obama. He said that US soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing so with pride and “dignity.” This, to be sure, is troubling. Recently there was a spike in the amount of American soldiers taking their own lives during this time of war. Suicide is not dignified. He further called attention to his decades of experience as a politician, citing relationships he’s nurtured over the years with America’s friends, as well as the cautious interaction he’s cultivated with her foes. He finally concluded by saying that he didn’t need on-the-job training as President.
If he took this same composite template and framed it around Sarah Palin, as attractive as she may be, it would not be a pretty picture. She has zero experience. Embarrassingly, in a rare unscripted interview with Katie Couric an intellectually shallow Sarah Palin—as some see her—stated her belief that, as if by osmosis, she has acquired foreign policy experience with Russia because of the relative nearness of that country’s borders to Alaska. In an article appearing in the Los Angeles Times with the telling title, “Palin talks to Couric—and if she’s lucky, few are listening,” attention was drawn to what some might call the vice-presidential candidate’s obscene inability to handle pointed questions from savvy media interviewers. “Her third nationally televised interview, with CBS anchor Katie Couric,” reports the Times, “found Palin rambling, marginally responsive and even more adrift than during her network debut with ABC’s Charles Gibson.” Her critics lament she would lead the country should a God-forbidden calamity befall McCain were he to become President.
And in what some see as classic Republican defiance of the law, vis-à-vis Karl Rove et al, Palin’s people have defied a subpoena in her abuse of power probe in Alaska. Matt Volz of the Associated Press writes: “Seven of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s top aides defied subpoenas for their testimony…into possible abuse of power by the governor. Most witnesses under subpoena have refused to testify before the special investigator or the legislative body.” Will they get in trouble by being held accountable for their actions? Not likely. Volz continues: “Five Republican state legislators have filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the Legislative Council’s investigation.”
Having been essentially declared the winner of the first round, Obama said of his rival: “The truth is, through 90 minutes of debate, John McCain had a lot to say about me. But he had nothing to say about you. Didn’t even say the words ‘middle class’…[or]…‘working people.’ Apparently these words hit a resounding note with voters. Obama still leads in the polls, which do not bode well for McCain who said he agreed with President Bush ninety percent of the time. CNN reports that “Bush now joins Truman and Richard Nixon as the only presidents who have had approval ratings of 27% or lower in Gallup Polls.” Given these facts it appears that Obama will gallop his way to the White House in victory. We’ll just have to wait and see. Godspeed. Amen.
Word for the Week (or is it “Weak”): pusillanimous: “lacking courage and resolution: marked by contemptible timidity.”