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Prestige

By The Reverend Published: May 9, 2008

One of the contentions of the blinded right is that America's president should be hesitant to sit down with world leaders with whom we disagree. Those labeled by this neo-conservative position as America's "enemies". Here, in a clip from John McCain's senior advisor, Mark Salter, this blindness is fleshed out a bit.....

In his victory speech this week, Senator Obama stated that ‘wisdom’ is meeting with our enemies, including Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Raul Castro. John McCain couldn’t disagree more. Rather than giving tyrants and dictators the prestige of meeting with an American president, John McCain will instead meet with the champions of human freedom around the world and opposition leaders fighting for liberty. Link

Recently, one of Mrs. Reverend's side of the family announced that she was with child and would be having her baby outside of the confines of marriage. Something that is not that rare in today's society.

The Reverend's house became baby shower central, (I did the grilling), and all the family guests who attended had a very good time. However, one family member refused to attend. The reason being that the young woman with child wasn't married. I thought about this person's thought processes in coming to the conclusion to not attend the shower.....and I believe they are uncannily similar to the thought processes of those conseratives, like McCain and his advisor, Mark Salter, who refuse to sit down with foreign leaders with whom we don't see eye to eye.

The non-attending family member disagrees with child bearing outside of marriage and so sitting down at a baby shower celebration for a young woman having a child outside of marriage would be lending her "prestige" to something she wholeheartedly rejects. Instead of the baby shower being about the new young mother-to-be, the non-attending family member, by her non-attendance, made the shower about herself. In so doing, this family member has irreparably harmed her relationship with the soon-to-be mother. Made things worse.

This is exactly the dynamic of the neo-conservatives, like John McCain, when it comes to meeting with leaders with whom we disagree. Doing so, according to McCain advisor Salter, would give these leaders the "prestige of meeting with an American president". As in my baby shower anecdote, until BEHAVIOR is changed, American neo-conservatives won't acknowledge or lend their "prestige" to certain foreign leaders. If my expecting family member would have rushed out and gotten married, then the non-attending member would have been morally satisfied and most likely would have lent her "prestige" by attending the shower.

The truth is that my non-attending family member would have strenghtened her relationship with the expectant mother, as well as strenghtening the unity of the family.....by attending, anyway. That course, though not as self-righteously satisfying, would have been, as Obama said, a course of "wisdom".

This is also true of U.S. presidents meeting personally with foreign leaders without a checklist of actions being met first. Sitting down with those whose behavior we disagree with strenghthens the overall relationship between the two parties. It brings with it a sense of unity. A sense that, yes, though we don't agree on all things, we're still all in this together as one world family. It is the course of "wisdom". The opposite course is destructive.

Self-righteous talk and actions are never welcomed from anyone. When the U.S. decided to start wars without provocation, kidnap suspected terrorists, torture detainees and basically run roughshod over existing international treaties and agreements.....we decided to give up any prestigious "moral authority" that we imagined we actually possessed. How then could we expect a statement like, "the prestige of meeting with an American president".....to not be laughed at and dismissed as simply a ridiculous display of America's lack of self-awareness?

My non-attending family member, by insisting on remaining loyal to her own perception of self-righteousness and allegiance to rules and decorum instead of people, made matters within the larger family unit...worse, while making herself appear self-centered and small.

The same is true with self-righteous, neo-cons who insist that America's perceived exceptionalism and innate goodness prohibits our leaders from meeting with other less-than-exceptionally behaved foreign leaders. This foolish position, as we've seen embodied in George W. Bush, makes things worse, not better.

Nothing negative would have come out of my family member's attendance at a baby shower for an unwed mother. Just the opposite. The same is true of American president's meeting with foreign leaders. Instead of being a sign of weakness, it would be a sign of strength and wisdom.

Any American "prestige" that's left after the reign of Bush, the Younger, would only be reinforced and elevated by such a course.

McCain is totally wrong on this isolationist, faux-exceptionalism navel gazing policy of non-engagement with those leaders whom we have labeled our "enemy". It's a destructive and unwise policy in the 21st century. Barack Obama, as he has done repeatedly, by his willingness to meet with leaders considered "enemies", is showing us a wise and constructive way forward. Obama's position acknowledges reality...not as we hope it could be, but as it is.....and moves towards that hope. McCain's position does not acknowledge reality as it is....blinded by some phony American "moral authority" exceptionalism....and moves towards, instead of hope, failure.

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