Tuesday, July 08, 2008

obaMACcain: not-so-great candidates think alike

Stuart K. Hayashi

Every Sunday, the newspaper arrives with a silly weekend tabloid-insert called Parade magazine. In the Sunday, July 6, 2008 issue, there are two articles -- one by Barack Obama and the other by John McCain. So I turned to pages 4 and 5, which have the Obama and McCain articles side-by-side.

In the print edition, the title of Obama's piece is "Sacrifice for the Common Good." On the next page, we have the title of McCain's: "A Cause Greater Than Self-Interest."

Ummmmm, don't the two titles have the same meaning? Doesn't a "Cause Greater Than Self-Interest" imply a "Sacrifice for the Common Good"?

The titles are different for the online versions, respectively at here and here. However, you can see the two titles from the print edition on the Table of Contents web page -- as Sub-Headlines -- over here (these contents will be erased when the next issue is posted online).

When you read the two columns, you find that they do have nearly identical messages. This isn't a real debate, because the two candidates don't ultimately disagree on the fundamental philosophic issues. The main difference between the two articles is that Obama's platitudes are much more familiar and much less coherent. When one tries to decipher a final message amidst Obama's heap of cliches, it appears to be that everything to him must revolve around Community, Community, Community.

Overrated Obama briefly gives lip service to a Horatio Alger-styled American Dream, but he qualifies that "living our dreams" entails behaving as a tiny little cog in a Greater Collective.

McCain's piece distinguishes itself in that it fixates on a topic dear to McCain but not so greatly beloved by Obama -- militarism. Obama says that soldiers "inspire" him, but he cannot take pride in military service in a manner comparable to McCain.

Interestingly, while Obama focuses on the social collective, he talks as if no self-renunciation is involved in his brand of collectivism. On this count, I am more greatly aggravated by McCain's words -- because McCain is more honest and explicit about the exact price of the sort of collectivism that he and his "opponent" (ha ha) champion: "We are blessed to be Americans, and blessed that so many of us have so often believed in a cause far greater than self-interest, far greater than ourselves."

If you removed the bylines from those columns, I would only be able to identify each author according to whether or not he referred to having served in the military. If you excise even that, and just put the words themselves on paper -- minus the pretty pictures -- I would not be able to identify the different authors upon reading the essays.

It is possible that either or both of these pieces might have been written by authors other than the candidates, but the candidates approved of what is in these pieces, and so the candidates are ultimately (ir)responsible.

Ugh. Do you remember a time when the two main political parties actually had two different people running during the general election?

Between the two major parties, there is just one candidate in the general election: Political Collectivism. It is obamaccain versus obamaccain.

Watch the pincer movement. If you're sick of one version, we push you into the other. We get you coming and going. We've closed the doors. We've fixed the coin. Heads -- collectivism, and tails -- collectivism. Fight the doctrine which slaughters the individual with the doctrine which slaughters the individual. . . . Offer poison as food and poison as the antidote. Go fancy on the trimmings, but hang on to the main objective. Give the fools a choice, let them have their fun -- but don't forget the only purpose you have to accomplish. Kill the individual. . . . The rest will follow automatically. Observe the state of the world as of the present moment.

--Ellsworth M. Toohey in The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand


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