A Mere Disagreement About Political Candidates

I’ve had a falling out with someone I met when we were freshman in high school 48 years ago and whom, thanks to Bill Gates, I’ve considered a friend for the last 10.  He knows I’m conservative.  During the decades-long hiatus in our communications he came across a few pieces I did for National Review.  It was no surprise to me that he is liberal.  I’d heard through the class of ’64 grapevine that he became a Reform rabbi.  We’ve had good-natured discussions about, well, all the important things:  baseball, ethnic humor, religion, journalistic ethics, politics . . . .

The fly in the buttermilk appeared when he wrote that Senator McCain looks and moves like an old man, and used the word “senile” in his narrative.  Doesn’t everyone know by now that McCain broke both his arms and a leg when he ejected from his disintegrating jet into the SAM-cluttered sky over Hanoi?  Incompetent medical treatment and torture (“the ropes”) worsened his injuries and partially crippled his arms and shoulders.  He doesn’t raise his arms straight up in the air in the standard political salute.  He can’t.  Hell, he can’t even comb his own hair.  These injuries have also affected his gait.  Senile?  Did you get a look at his 96-year-old mother at the convention?

Things went, as my dear old Pa used to say, from worse to worser when he called Gov. Palin a “scary bitch” and a “political hack,” and he was apparently serious when he wrote that “we better all support Obama now.  Wouldn’t you agree?????”  When I demurred with facts and quotations he disapproved of my “tone” and said that it couldn’t be accounted for by mere “differing political perspectives and opinions about candidates.”  

I watched the acceptance speeches of Senators Obama and McCain, and Governor Palin.   I skipped Senator Biden’s because my sojourn in this Earthly vale is bounded by mortality.

Give credit where it’s due.  I see how Obama can mesmerize an audience of celebrity-worshipping simpletons and whip them into a frenzy.  Mussolini had the same knack.  He is a master of empty rhetoric and personal insult:  “I have news for you, John McCain . . .” looking straight into the camera, as if at McCain.  The contemptuous familiarity and the omission of his title were deliberate.  He paints a vivid word portrait of life in America that makes it sound like a banana republic on its last legs.  His heartwarming description of his loving and beloved family includes his grandmother, who he mentioned in an earlier speech:  She “is somewhere in Hawaii, in a wheelchair.”  He can see the future and he can make it work.  He can’t find his own grandmother?  His half-brother lives in a shantytown hut in Nairobi on $12.00 a year.  It must be the Kenyan government’s job to help him.  Obama claims to have “a fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper.”  In his cosmology, that’s a throwaway line.  Am I being unfair?  Maybe.  Perhaps he will put his words into action if he becomes Big Brother.

He is the man who Clinton advisor Mark Penn described as “not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values,” and who lacks “American roots.”  

He is a friend of the terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (aka Mrs. Bill Ayers).  The charming Ms. Dohrn reacted as follows to the Manson murders:  “Dig it!  First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in their bellies.  Wild!”  She is an Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University and the head of its Children and Family Justice Center.  Ayers teaches education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  In 2001 he said, “I don’t regret setting bombs,” and “I feel we didn’t do enough.”  He doesn’t “want to discount the possibility that” he would do it all again.   

Obama was apparently bankrolled by the convicted embezzler, Syrian-born Tony Rezko.  

For 20 years his pastor spewed race-hatred on a level approaching the psychotic, but Obama was apparently wearing earplugs.  

He is the preferred candidate of Hamas.  Its leader has been quoted as saying, “We like Mr. Obama and we hope he wins.”

Isn’t anyone paying attention?  

But I digress.  Back to the speeches.  I have reached an age when most political orations bore me into catatonia, but those delivered by Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain knocked my socks off.  I was apprehensive about McCain’s.  Palin’s was one tough act to follow.  I needn’t have worried.  

I have been present at speeches delivered by John Kennedy, Fred Thompson, Jack Kemp, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan.  I have never heard a more genuine and inspiring cri de coeur than McCain’s address, in person or otherwise.  I assume there was an open microphone problem when I heard a commentator say, apparently addressing a colleague right after his speech ended:  “McCain will be ahead in next week’s polls” and it will be Obama’s turn to “play catch-up.”  I do not always agree with our candidate.  He was not my first choice for the nomination.  But on his behalf I have made the ultimate summer time sacrifice:  my Mets cap has been replaced by one that says “Veterans for McCain.”  (They’re available at

Do I overstate matters when I say that the next eight weeks are a battle for America’s soul?  Will we head down the road taken by Western Europe, aka Eurabia? — increasingly bloated budgets and more federal interference in our lives under the guise of  “benefits.”  Or will we dig our heels in and say “enough is enough?”  Can we stop apologizing for our strength, independence, endurance, sacrifice, generosity, and humanity?  Can we reclaim our pride in reflecting the best that the Judaeo-Christian ethic has to offer?

Can we “stand up and fight?”

That is why this election is more than a mere disagreement about political candidates, and one on which friendships can founder.