Understanding John McCain

Been reading some of the American political blogs about McCain and the Sarah Palin choice (OK, yes, I too have made the VPILF joke).

There\’s something that none of them seem to get at all. Go back and read Tom Wolfe\’s "The Right Stuff".

There\’s one group of people on this planet that even the most hot dog of fighter pilots will offer a (however grudging) passing admiration for. Naval aviators. Those who have done the scariest (see Tom Wolfe) thing that service offers. Your first night time carrier landing.

No, I\’m not saying that this makes McCain a good pick as President, nor Palin for VP. Nor a bad set either.

But if you\’re not understanding that very strange world of naval aviators, where to even attempt the training is to (and even more so to survive it) display, to everyone who knows about such things, that you really do have cojones, balls of high grade nickel cobalt not just the steel that mere jet jockeys must have,  then you\’re not going to understand McCain the man or McCain the politician.

Whether somebody apt at taking decisions on imperfect information, by hunch rather than cogitation, who apparently enjoyed proving that at risk of his life, is quite who you or I want as President is a different matter.

But I\’m jess\’ sayin\’ that Tom Wolfe described the type and I\’m surprised that more isn\’t made of it.

 

17 comments on “Understanding John McCain

  1. If night deck landing is so tough what is the death rate?
    If you really want tough decision makers why not chose bank robbers?

  2. Just what we need for US President: another testosterone-crazed thicko who thinks with his balls. The fact that he’s chosen the closest living thing to Laura Croft as his running mate doesn’t enhance his credibility one bit.

    The US isn’t the Wild West anymore, and anyone who can’t do economics and who can’t remember the difference between Shias and Sunnis, has no business running one of the most powerful nations in the world, regardless of the metal his family jewels are made of.

  3. I’m not sure that a deep understanding of the theological significance of the veneration of the Imam Ali would actually help in understanding modern Islamic states and Islamist groups?

    Just as a deep understanding of the Protestant Reformation and the differences between modern Catholic and Presbyterian beliefs would have been very little use in understanding the Ulster troubles. Or am I missing something?

    Oh, and as for economics, aren’t Obama and Biden both lawyers? Economics by people trained to charge by the minute?

  4. “Just what we need for US President: another testosterone-crazed thicko who thinks with his balls.”

    You obviously haven’t been paying attention. Naval Aviators may be many things, but I’d suggest that “thickos” aren’t one of them.

  5. @ S.Evil – deep understanding isn’t necessary, but enough to avoid putting foot-in-mouth might be a good idea, no? Ditto his understanding of economics.

    @D.M.- People who think with portions of their anatomy not designed for that function are by definition thickos in my book. Sorry!

    (N.B. Why hasn’t anyone addressed his gambling habit?)

  6. “The US isn’t the Wild West anymore,”

    No, but the rest of the world is headed that way.

    And knowledge of the difference between sunnis and shias is peripheral, whereas a clear understanding of what they have in common, is crucial.

  7. “…another testosterone-crazed thicko who thinks with his balls.” Who’s the first one? Eva, you have a serious bad case of Bush derangement syndrome.

    “…has no business running one of the most powerful nations…” It is not one of the most powerful. It is the most powerful by orders of magnitude. The President does not ‘run’ the USA. He is more like the CEO of a large corporation – he administers the rules the directors set.

    Do you expect the CEO of Shell to understand every aspect of Shell’s business, or do you expect him to assemble experts and information, weigh the results and make a decision? If the CEO of Shell ever declares that he has Fingerspitzgefuehl for all aspects of his business, I’ll dump the stock. What I most fear is a politician who thinks he knows all about economics and will force his necessarily imperfect knowledge on the rest of us. Politicians do not do economics, they do politics.

    Please point to some politician who does know about economics and would be a more suitable candidate for American President. The Dems are all excluded because of their current lunatic socialist theories. Who remains?

    Finally, the American Cowboys, with all their evil ways have built a hugely prosperous, powerful and free society that has literally saved the world from tyranny 2 or even 3 times. Whatever they did, it worked well and it behooves the rest of us to study and understand those facts and to consider them very respectfully.

  8. Well, if you need to understand the difference between shia and sunni, and be accepted as an expert on economics to be President, then the states will have to do without one for the forseeable future.

  9. Supplementing David M’s comment: good pilots are not testosterone-crazed either. I gather that when on terra firma McCain is known for his temper; I find it reassuring that he evidently can remain calm in certain dangerous situations.

  10. “good pilots are not testosterone-crazed either.”

    From what I read, he wasn’t a very good pilot, unless crashing planes is considered OK in that profession – which it may well be.

    “Finally, the American Cowboys, with all their evil ways have built a hugely prosperous, powerful and free society that has literally saved the world from tyranny 2 or even 3 times. Whatever they did, it worked well and it behooves the rest of us to study and understand those facts and to consider them very respectfully.”

    Agreed. And England once had one of the world’s most extensive empires and some of the world’s best and able politicians, which presumably should also be respected.

    Nowadays Gordon Brown and George Bush ‘do politics’ after listening to the experts they’ve appointed and assembled. I fear McCain and his transparently calculating choice of VP are of the same caliber (though if he’s elected, I’ll pray he survives a full term, since the alternative is too terrifying.)

  11. “People who think with portions of their anatomy not designed for that function are by definition thickos in my book. Sorry! ”

    In fairness we don’t all have access to your book. We have to make do with shared definitions of words when communicating with other people. If like the chesire cat in Alice In Wonderland, words mean whatever we want them to mean, we are all going to have a tough time communicating.

    “From what I read, he wasn’t a very good pilot, unless crashing planes is considered OK in that profession – which it may well be.”

    On that basis, Ayrton Senna wasn’t a very good driver.

  12. (N.B. Why hasn’t anyone addressed his gambling habit?)

    He’s a gambler?? Why didn’t anyone say? My respect has just increased a few notches.

  13. Eva writes: “From what I read, he wasn’t a very good pilot, unless crashing planes is considered OK in that profession”.

    In general, of course not. But the point was he held down a position as the type of pilot who does the most dangerous flying. It’s like the way some of the best surgeons in the world have a very high percentage of their patients die on the operating table – because they are the ones who can even attempt the most difficult operations that would be beyond most of their colleagues.

    john b,

    Your Shell analogy would only be valid if it were suggested that McCain should be president wholly or mainly because he was a hotshot pilot. No one has suggested that. It’s just a plus point on his CV, as it would be on the Shell CEO’s.

    Personally I will never forgive McCain for the McCain-Feingold restrictions on free speech, but the fact that he has been a naval aviator definitely moves him up in my estimation.

  14. I was responding to BlacquesJacques’s implication that the worst presidential candidate would be someone who knew something about economics, because it would stop them from making impartial decisions based on expert advice. On that basis, you’d want someone with a career in IT or film stardom or dustmannery to be Shell’s CEO. But in real life, you wouldn’t.

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