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27 September 2008


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His refusal to look at Obama throughout the debate, his dismissive tone of voice when continually speaking of Obama in the third person as though he were not there, his inability to say anything good about his opponent, all showed him to be a natural bully or someone who has been taught to be a bully.

It is also how people behave when they haven't mastered their aversion or anger. (and where command of affect IS command of situation).

Dubya types are the latent Queegs. McCain is a different species of evil-tempered little hothead.

I don't question the statement that he is impaired.

To weigh the merits of the impaired against those of the defective folks need a St. Michael® Brand balance.

Ebay has none on offer. Choose wisely.


Here is what Chis Matthews had to say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty9BTcERiYY


At one point he went on and on about his experience and how important that was in a president. He must think that he is immortal. Unlikely. I suppose that he did not see the irony implicit in his choice of Sarah Palin as his designated successor. pl

Col. Lang:

I thought there might be some interest in one psychologist’s take on why McCain relies so heavily on experience.


As a kid and adolescent, McCain was restless, outgoing, attention seeking, and angry. Although he could interact easily with others he often used this skill to disrupt the lives of the people around him so as to diminish their ability to control him. Cocky, self-confident in the extreme, risk taking, and with an impulsive style that resulted in lapses of common sense and good judgment, he did not fit easily into any setting. He always had something to prove.

Up until the time of his capture in Vietnam, he was an outlier; someone who did not incorporate or acknowledge the importance of social rules unless forced to do so. He always knew better and felt unappreciated.

He relates that his five and one/half years as a POW offered the opportunity for self examination that led him to understand that if he was going to survive he needed to rein in his impulsivity and anger. That experience as a POW did little, however, to modify or undo his prior behavior or thinking. Like his earlier experiences with other negative reinforcers, it simply pushed his impulsivity and anger a little farther from public view.

[Negative reinforcement (punishment) does that to you. If you’re going to survive you learn quickly to stop showing the behavior that gets you in trouble. The problem is that all you learn how to do is to avoid the punishment. You never learn other, better ways of getting your needs met.]

Since his release from captivity, McCain’s basic world view hasn’t changed much. Like most things over time, it’s matured a bit. Although still the cocky, self confident, risk taking, impulsive, lapses-in-good-judgment, action-oriented, angry person he’s always been, he’s learned that there are some settings where “letting it all hang out” is really not in his best interest. Regardless, his important interpersonal relationships continue to be dictated by a fear of being controlled and diminished by others and the need to keep that from happening.

Aware that he may have limitations, he constantly assesses the behavior of others to make sure that they have neither discovered nor are using them to control him. Under stress he easily misinterprets others behavior as critical and judgmental. He then angrily and publicly lashes out. He is not aware of how his own behavior can provoke negative judgment. He allows few into his inner circle and then only those who have learned to be careful what they say to him.

He routinely keeps others away by angry posturing coupled with a patent and public willingness to be irrationally confrontive over what others would see as trivialities. Disdainful of feelings, he thinks nothing of trying to provoke others into challenging him so he can prove how truly powerful he is. Those who do not take up the gauntlet of his taunts and challenges (as did Obama) he treats with contempt as weak and unworthy of having a relationship with him.

Although disdainful of authority, he has learned to subordinate himself to it for his own personal ends. Even so, he tries constantly to minimize its influence so as to preserve as much of his autonomy and independence as possible. When doing this he often becomes “The Maverick.” He tells stories about himself and others and believes them.

He believes that if you want to do something right, do it yourself. His interpersonal style does not encourage him to work cooperatively with others or to work as part of a team. He is willing to delegate but only to those he believes actively share his point of view.

He relies heavily and trusts the tangible and concrete nature of his own life experiences as the basis for his decisions. It is difficult for him to integrate into his thinking ideas that are outside this personal experience base.

Not a person who appreciates the value of planning ahead, he relies heavily on rules, regulations and procedures to organize and control his world. Aware intellectually that there is value in thinking something through before responding, nevertheless, when in a crisis situation, he is capable of reacting without thinking.

Patrick Lang


I see that I wronged Matthews in this case. My bad. pl


Obama and the Democratic party are asking Americans to roll up their sleeves and get to work fixing the problems of this nation, including dealing with the awful costs of foolish wars and even more foolish investment policies. And much of the population simply doesn't want to hear that message of accountability and responsibility, so they tune in to the gibberish that McCain and Palin are selling instead.


The examples abound... but the most obvious is the unwillingness to join in the "generational struggle" of our lifetime against terra(TM). Or in the smallest steps towards energy conservation and diversification. Or even in working together because our nation needs us to. Nascar's on dontcha' know?

On September 12th, 2001, the Nation was ready to work together, was already beginning to gel together without prompting, and was desperate for some inspiring, guiding leadership. Instead, we were told to go shopping. Be consumers. Let the "Pros" handle it. The bright shining moment flickered out.

In Bacevich's latest, The Limits of Power, he explores this very moral malaise, identifying it as a key basis for the Republic's steady decline. And until the People throw it off, we'll continue to muddle along, oblivious to our weakness and rapid decline on the world stage.

Maybe the People will wake up when everything they see is owned by a foreigner?



Did somebody say MODO (Maureen Dowd)?

She's already dissected the debate and Woe upon Mr. Big Ears. He has flubbed his chance again.

"It would have been easy for smarty-pants Obama to get in the face of the temperamental older guy.

"McCain kept painting Obama as naïve, and dangerous, insisting that he “doesn’t quite understand or doesn’t get it.”

Obama should have responded “Senator, I understand perfectly, I’m just saying you’re wrong.”

On the surge, he could have said that McCain was the arsonist who wanted to be praised for the great job he’s doing putting out the fire he started.

When Obama took quiet umbrage at McCain’s attack about troop-funding, he could have pounded the lectern and said with real anger: “John, I am sick and tired of you suggesting that I would take funds away from our brave soldiers. I no more voted for that than you did when you voted against our funding proposals that would have imposed a timetable. And unlike you, I did not vote against funding increases for the troops that have come home with devastating physical and mental injuries.”

And who cares what Henry Kissinger thinks? He was wrong 35 years ago, and it’s only gotten worse since then.

Obama did a poor job of getting under McCain’s skin. Or maybe McCain did an exceptional job of not letting Obama get under his skin. McCain nattered about earmarks and Obama ran out of gas.

We’re left waiting for a knockout debate. On to Palin-Biden


I think Andrew Kitz hits the nail on the head. McCain is longer in control of his own destiny.

Now, as with Palin, I have this impression he is saying: "I can make the choices I know you think are right".. not, "here are the choices I have made and here's why."


Consistent with the fact that almost by definition the folks who visit here tend to be political junkies of a sort I think we oughta take a step back and look at the big picture.

Obama's big burden is of course his newness, which then is further troublesome given his somewhat exotic name and background.

So for the vast majority of folks much of what they are going to be looking for is simply whether the man appears—personality wise, intelligence wise, character-wise and etc.—to be just as credible a President as McCain.

I didn't watch the debate but by all accounts Obama did this and more. And I suspect that as these debates go on and people focus more now on making up their minds, Obama will do nothing but go up in the polls and win barring some insane gaffe on his part.

In this respect then Obama is however making a big mistake by not taking up McCain's challenge to have a helluva lot more debates. The more Obama shows himself, the better. And since I agree with Col. Lang that McCain is one big, twitchy and unstable bag of ego, the greater the chances that he'll no longer be able to hold it in and will start foaming at the mouth about Martians tapping his brain-waves. And even if not Obama could then just keep subtly and politely pounding away at *McCain's* big burdens which are his age/mental decreptitude and his "experience" at being nothing but a slavish follower of Bush's policies as to both our present foreign affairs debacle and our present economic debacle.

Obama is going to win anyway I believe, but he's still missing a helluva beat I think. He oughta call the little nutball out all he can; the innumerable comparisons with McCain can only help him.



Col. Lang:

For the folks who want Obama to get angry on TV so that all 300 million of us can see it; just three words: angry black man.

IMHO, Obama does us all a favor by containing and channeling his anger so that the country doesn't have to deal with "angry black man."

We've come a long way but the veneer is thin, the history long and the myths are still powerful.


Obama won the body language contest. All he had to do was keep his own with McCain's strength. The real fight is forthcoming.

Obama is a counter-puncher, very cautious and feels out his opponent for the first few rounds. There will probably be some solid blows landed when he sees his opening.

PL " McCain is impaired."
This is what this is all about--Supreme Court picks-- and McCain would choose someone impaired as he.

Jack Kemp

Why are McCains' health records off limits? That should be a legitimate metric for consideration.

Jack Kemp

Kudos and thanks, btw, to COL Lang, for the consistently great photo intros to his posts. Humour is a weapon in the hands of the skilled. Although, that stealth shot of Blackwater in N.O. haunts.


Serving Patriot,

I would argue that the gap between what Obama and the Dems are proposing, and what Col Bacevich is calling for, especially in his book, American Empire, is as wide as the Pacific Ocean. Obama and the Dems could not, even in the bathroom, alone, at 3AM whisper the words "American Empire", to say nothing of denouncing the militarization of American life that Bacevich--rightly, in my opinion-warns us about.

Further, you wrote:

On September 12th, 2001, the Nation was ready to work together, was already beginning to gel together without prompting, and was desperate for some inspiring, guiding leadership. Instead, we were told to go shopping. Be consumers. Let the "Pros" handle it. The bright shining moment flickered out."

Really? I saw no rush to the recruiting station. And I was there on the 12th. Foolishly, as it turned out, inquiring about the age limit for the Judge Advocate's Office. Further, I saw no rush to raise taxes to pay for what, obviously, was going to be a huge outlay in spending. I heard no talk of a draft. Now, perhaps all these ideas and proposals, including my own, might have turned out to be bad ideas and proposals. Over reactions. Or not, as the case may be, that is not my point. My point is there was no call for anything like this. There was no rush to recruiting stations. The majority of Americans seemed just fine with the go shopping go to Disneyland advice. Though I think we did have the 'decency' to be a bit---but only a bit-- embarrassed by that.



I agree with you on the wide gulf between current Dem (or can we agree, citizen?) position on Empire and what Bacevich warns against.

But, in comparing the two candidates, BHO seems far more likely to call the citizens to question their belief in consumerism and lazy-ness in support of their own country. JSMiii only calls for us to accept the present situation and, in fact, embrace the Empire (without embracing the costs of manging such).

As to 12 Sept, perhaps my views were colored by my proximity to the attacked Acela corridor, the copious coverage of volunteer responses (especially to NYC) and my own status in the service of my country. You write, "The majority of Americans seemed just fine with the go shopping go to Disneyland advice". To this, I agree. But, I believe this attitude speaks to the paucity of national leadership in time of crisis. Americans were, innately, ready to pitch in; they were desperate to be told how to help. And they were told - go shopping and go to Disneyland - and that's what they did. The leading political party used the moment to enlarge its power and discredit its political opponents; that party COULD have used the moment to address root causes and mobilize needed strengths. The unification moment came and went. Subsequent events demonstrate the inauthentic nature of the government's response; cynicism, skepticism and outright (grassroots) opposition ensued.

A chicken-egg conundrum? Which comes first, the self-motivation or the government encouragement? To me, the govt HAD to lead and it chose not to. Others will view it differently. I do hope, though, that the actual situation is not one in which our citizens would fail to mobilize themselves even WITH government leadership; if this is the case, even a charismatic leader like BHO will be unable to turn our supertanker of state from its course towards the rocks.


Sidney O. Smith III

Why no mention of the 2007 NIE during a US Presidential debate on national security?

At the Oxford debate, both candidates avoided the 2007 NIE as if it an adversarial government had drafted its conclusions that Iran, at this time, poses no security threat to the US. With the likes of Norman Podhoretz whispering in McCain’s ear, one can reasonably assume that the McCain brain trust disagrees with its findings. So such a stance from the “country first” crowd illustrates what everyone already knows -- when it comes to a US foreign policy stance towards Iran, the Republicans are not placing first the security interests of the US, at least according to the US intelligence community.

And it is at this point that one can see that the Axelrod brain trust missed a golden opportunity during the debates. Obama could have relied on an official US Government document -- the 2007 NIE -- to prove that McCain has ignored the findings of the US intel community and even held it in disdain.

Even better, Obama could have used the 2007 NIE to deliver a major knock-out punch. If McCain had refused to agree with Obama’s endorsement of the findings of the NIE, then, number one, McCain has proven himself unAmerican and, number two, that, despite his heroism in the past, McCain has admitted in front of the American public that he no longer is an expert on national security affairs. In other words, by shunning the findings of the 2007 NIE, McCain, by his own actions, disqualified himself as expert on US foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East.

Best I can tell, no better way exists to have triggered a McCain meltdown in public. Think about it -- an articulate community organizer from Chicago tells Mr. Navy that, by shunning the 2007 NIE, he no longer has any expertise on national security issues. And by doing so, Obama intimates at a sub textual level that McCain has treated the US intel community in much the same manner as Abbie Hoffman, if not William Ayers, and therefore has proven himself decidedly unAmerican. Then stand back for fireworks, as Mr. Navy says, “my friend” and proceeds to go apoplectic.

It gets even better because all the while the smiling Obama now carries the banner, “country first”, which would have gone a long way to help him overcome some reasonable doubts raised by his spiritual director raging, “g-d America”, something MLK Jr would have never said and may explain why MLK Jr. avoided the hatred that emanates from Chicago. Wish Obama had too.

The NIE would have helped Obama overcome the Chicago problem and, as a final lagniappe, Obama, by relying upon the NIE, would have publicized its findings to such an extent that Joe Citizen would have become keenly interested in a document that the msm wants us all to forget. Make of the msm what you will.

So looked at from that point of view, the 2007 NIE was a gift to Obama. And my God, if nothing else, it would have been so much fun to have raised the NIE to McCain’s ire before millions of Americans. That kind of gift only comes around once in a blue moon.

So if true, then disturbing questions arise. Why did not the Axelrod brain trust and the enlightened ones make the 2007 NIE the centerpiece of Obama’s national security views, particularly in regard to Iran and the Middle East? It is because they too disagree with the work of the US intel community or is it because they don’t have the wherewithal to conduct a proper cross examination of John McCain? Or both?

Perhaps both, particularly when you look at the initial attack launched against Sarah Palin, not by Obama, I quickly add, but by the enlightened ones that surround Obama. In Obama’s defense, Obama seems to have a natural ability to understand others -- he seems gifted in that area -- but it is his advisors and most fanatical supporters who do not have this aptitude, in my opinion. Strangely, Obama’s most rabid supporters are his antithesis in that regard.

And only now are undecided voters getting over the rather haughty comments towards Palin’s culture made by the enlightened ones, particularly those of daily kos. It almost as if the Republicans put her on the stand in front of a jury of undecided voters and the Democrats started their cross examination by saying, “And your down syndrome baby is not yours, is it?” Not sure that approach wins over undecided juries but maybe I am wrong

But now that the classless attack by the enlightened ones is receding in the collective memory, it looks like Palin is starting to show that she is not qualified, which was not that hard to accomplish. Just ask her questions in the most respectful tone possible and then stand back for amazingly entertaining answers. Honestly, it is not hard to do.

So the point is obvious: you counter McCain in a different way than Palin. By focusing on the 2007 NIE, Obama could have delivered a knock-out punch and, even more fun, triggered a McCain meltdown which, to rely upon the Southern vernacular, would have been a sight to see, especially on Friday night t-v.


When debating whether to cast your vote for Obama or McCain, consider this....

Which one, in front of witnesses called his wife a " Trollop!" And a C**t!"

Or perhaps he was thinking of his future pick for VP.

Consider also his nickname while flying Navy Jets was "Wet Start".... then go look at what happened to the USS Forrestal on the 29th of July 1967... and ask yourselves..... why was John McCain ( The son of a US Navy Admiral) transferred off the ship the next day?




In Bacevich's latest, The Limits of Power, he explores this very moral malaise, identifying it as a key basis for the Republic's steady decline.

I'm currently reading this book, and it's excellent, i.e., thoughtful, accessible and cogent. Bacevich has certainly seen the full extent of these problems, and is reporting back with feasible solutions... if we Americans are ever ready to listen and learn.

Bacevich was recently interviewed for a full hour of Bill Moyers PBS show. It was one of the most informative and moving examples of educational television I've ever seen.

There will be those, like the oaf Chris Matthews, who will think that McCain's attitude shows him to be a leader.

This seems an odd thing to expect from Chris "Tingly" Matthews, whose livelihood depends on pleasing his GE masters.


RE: alnval | 27 September 2008 at 07:08 PM One psychologist's take.

Who is that psychologist and what does s/he have to say about Obama? I have no quibbles with the take on McCain.

I am most interested in personality traits that might predict how each would abuse the powers of the Unitary Executive. [Expletive deleted] the lofty principles, everybody talks lofty principles - show me on-the-record scruples in action !!!!

Good intentions don't count.

Patrick Lang


Matthews tends to support agrressive nastiness as a methodolgy in politics. In this case, he did not.


If you are going to say that McCain said that about his wife, I think you have to provide evidence. pl



It's in a book published by Cliff Schecter.

Here's just one of many ( over 4,000) links you'll get if you type in MacCain, wife, and the two offensive words.


I heard about this some years back.

And if untrue I'm certain McCain would have sued by now, if not put out a restraining on the order on the book being published at all.



When debating whether to cast your vote for Obama or McCain, consider this....

Which one, in front of witnesses called his wife a " Trollop!" And a C**t!"

Or perhaps he was thinking of his future pick for VP.

Consider also his nickname while flying Navy Jets was "Wet Start".... then go look at what happened to the USS Forrestal on the 29th of July 1967... and ask yourselves..... why was John McCain ( The son of a US Navy Admiral) transferred off the ship the next day?



PL, I don't remember who reported that McCain said that to his wife, but it did happen. She took the wifely liberty of getting in his physical space and teasing him about his thinning hair while he was "doing business" with the person who reported it. My take: it distracted, undermined, and infuriated him.

Had some female pol's husband grabbed an anatomical part and teased her about being fat assed (or flat chested or fill in the blank) as she was concentrating on "doing business," feminists and the Defenders of Womanhood would be howling for his head.

Her little gesture was thoughtless, inappropriate, and subversive (assume unintentionally); his response was intemperate, inappropriate, and self-destructive: inexcusable -- but understandable.


Rjj wrote: Who is that psychologist and what does s/he have to say about Obama? I have no quibbles with the take on McCain.

I am most interested in personality traits that might predict how each would abuse the powers of the Unitary Executive. [Expletive deleted] the lofty principles, everybody talks lofty principles - show me on-the-record scruples in action !!!!

Col. Lang:

I am the psychologist: Retired, licensed with 50 years of teaching and consulting to government and private sectors including organizational effectiveness and personnel selection.

Obama’s history, unlike McCain’s, suggests an orientation to getting things done that recognizes the importance of identifying, bringing together and motivating the people with the skills sets required for the task. I would describe him as having an approach to the decision making process that is primarily participative and which values the inclusion of people whose ideas differ from his own. Of all the recent candidates for president, Obama is the least likely to create “Group Think.” (Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs)

For Obama, getting public personal recognition is not part of his management style. One can easily infer that he follows the maxim, “By their works ye shall know them.” As a result, it was amusing the other day to hear Obama remind a pundit who was complaining to him about his lack of management experience that he (Obama) had been the manager of his campaign and thought that so far he’d done a pretty good job. (In this context, Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe is the COO and not the CEO.)

It’s also instructive to read Politico’s June article on Obama’s work as President of the Harvard Law Review. (Obama kept Law Review balanced Jeffrey Ressner & Ben Smith Politico June 2, 2008.) http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0608/11257.html

They conclude:

". . . Obama's time on the Review mirrored other aspects of his life. Even in the staunchly liberal milieus in which he has spent his entire adult life, Obama has managed to lead without leaving a clear ideological stamp, and to respect — and even, at times, to embrace — opposing views. To his critics, that's a sign of a lack of core beliefs. To his admirers, it's the root of his appeal."

Convinced of the value of this approach, Obama has not been reluctant to modify it when necessary. His failure to defeat Congressman Bobbie Rush in 2000 is a good example. Obama thought he had it made. Thinking his work in the Illinois State Senate and in Chicago’s south side would carry the day, he was wrong. He ran without the support of the Daley machine and was soundly defeated.by a margin of two to one. He returned chastened to the Illinois legislature and in 2004 was elected to the US Senate.

Unlike McCain’s, Obama’s behavioral history does not have wide arc pendulum swings. He presents as steady, predictable, consistent, reliable and constant. His history does not show, as does McCain’s, uneven judgment, questionable decision making, and the need for public retreat from rash, impulsive choices.

History continues to be the best predictor of the future, and, Leopards really don’t change their spots. For these reasons, and given what I’ve learned about Obama, I don’t worry about his ability to lead the country.

Duncan Kinder

Having watched it, I would say that Obama wins on points as a gentleman and McCain loses on coming across as a victim of coaching by brutes like Rick Davis et al.

The problem with the Republican party is that - while they are or purport to be conservative - they are not gentlemen.

There was a time when I once routinely pledged:

I pledge on my honor as a gentleman that I will neither lie, cheat, nor steal nor tolerate those who do.

Obviously the 43 odd percent who support McCain or the 25-30 percent who support Bush do not subscribe to this pledge.

The concept of the "gentleman" is not sacrosanct; there are many critiques of it. But these lead one toward a liberal position. ( Of course, it is also possible to be a liberal while also a gentleman. ).

The boorish, Social Darwinist Republican "base" is fully as repulsive in its own way as that bastardization of liberalism known as PC.

Would that we had a genuine Tory party instead of these Republican thugs.

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