VOICES | John McCain: Wrong president for a war-weary nation


A warrior born and bred, John McCain’s worldview is framed by preparation for wars, fighting wars, and creating enemies for future wars. McCain threatens a war with Iran to prevent it from having nuclear weapons, expresses willingness to occupy Iraq for 100 years if necessary, talks tough to Russia, and promises Americans that there “will be more wars.”

How many wars does McCain want us to fight? His recent comment at a New Mexico town hall (8/20/08) indicating support for the reinstatement of the draft foreshadows many wars in McCain’s scary imagination.

His purpose is to fight for noble causes regardless of the costs. He “knows how to win wars” and “how to capture Bin Laden” who he will follow “to the gates of hell.” These certainties and assurances despite no previous wars won or efforts to capture Bin Laden.

Sally Quinn, whose parents were friends of McCain’s parents, wrote in the Washington Post (8/18/08): “I want to live in John McCain’s world. Those were the days when men were men, when the differences between good and evil were clear, when they knew where they stood on every issue, when life was less complicated, where there was an air of insouciance, no matter how difficult the issues.”

She wrote, “I want to live in a world where Gen. David Petraeus and Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, are the wisest people I know, where offshore drilling will help easy our energy crisis…. I want to live in a world where I was absolutely certain that life begins at conception…where the only thing to do with evil is defeat it….”

McCain’s world is an either/or world of white or black, good or evil, friend or enemy. Dualistic thinking (either/or) provides the illusion of control, a false sense of security, and allows self righteous demonizing of opponents and mindless and simplistic choices between two alternatives.

Good/bad thinking is reactive, needs and creates enemies, simplifies relationships unrealistically, and establishes boundaries that must be defended with attacks—anger or military force. There is no room for nuance or shades of gray in an either/or world. You win or lose the war, other nations are friends or enemies, and people agree with you or they are wrong.

Answers are short and simple for such a man: McCain’s Christian faith “…means I’m saved and forgiven.” His greatest moral failure was his divorce. Evil must be defeated. Rich people are those who make $5 million or more. His answers to these and other questions from Rick Warren at Saddleback Church on August 16, 2008 were short, simple, and certain—great sound bites all. But not reflective of introspection, which he admitted he’s done little of, and more reflective of a lazy intellect that finished 894th in a class of 899 at the Naval Academy.

Either/or thinking makes no sense in the world of chaos theory, quantum physics, and a living, interconnected, and interdependent world and global economy where many nations are powerful and are global leaders.

Change begins with seeing reality as it is. McCain sees a cold war world that no longer exists. He is a 20th century thinker in a 21st century world–a messy, and dynamic world of possibility filled with creative potential for the renewal of America.

John McCain, a simplistic thinker with an angry temperament, makes for a risky president. He is the wrong leader for a nation tired of war.

(Heuerman, Ph.D. is a change consultant, former Secret Service agent, and former newspaper executive. He lives in Moorhead, MN)