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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Legacy of John McCain

Once the surrealistic excitement of any elections is over the lime-light squarely shifts to the winning candidate; even chest constricting pain in die hard supporters gradually dissipates and the losing candidate is hurtled back to the reality of the life. This is true for any election and even truer for US presidential elections. It is, in general, even hard to remember the names of presidential candidates who ran for the office in different times. Does anyone remember Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie or Thomas Dewey, who were mauled by Franklin D. Roosevelt in three elections subsequent to his triumph over Herbert Hoover in the wake of economic crash of 1929? Thomas Dewey, despite his being declared elected by the press, lost again to Harry Truman in 1948 into final oblivion. Dwight Eisenhower obliterated Adlai Stevenson, who had all the merits of becoming a great president. The history would, perhaps, have been less nasty, had Richard Nixon encountered a similar tryst with destiny. He rather sent Hubert Humphrey into shadows of darkness and went on himself to preside over of one the darkest presidencies in the history. Historians hardly ever search for the legacies of Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole or for that matter even John Kerry who tried, but was overwhelmed by the right wing machinery of stealth and deceit in his pursuit to liberate world from scorched policies of George W. Bush. Had Kerry won in 2004, his legacy would have been secured for shortening the sleazy and deceitful era; but that was not to be and Bush till the very end pursued the policies that divided world into unknown realms. That was until the US presidential election of 2008 that none of the presidential candidate upon losing election left a legacy with a deep and dark effect. That dubious distinction belongs to John McCain who despite losing election to Obama, nevertheless, let a genie in the form of Sarah Palin out of bottle without any effective means of putting her back. John McCain with all the flawed concepts ranging from support for illicit invasion of Iraq to possibility of attacking Iran still retained an upright posture on social issues. In a bizarre choice of Sarah Palin as running mate, McCain might have had hurt his whatever slim chances of beating Obama, but damage done to the polity by her running berserk has been even greater. That is the legacy of John McCain. Even the thought of his being elected and her being literal heart beat away from presidency was in some ways numbing. If knowledge about the damage wrought and deceit pursued by Bush presidency was not enough, the latest released secret papers bring about sobering reality. The war in Iraq brought more deaths than previously reported and in a quirk way increased Iranian influence in the region that US had been trying to contain ever since Shah went into exile in 1979. The manner of handling of Afghanistan by Obama administration, being far from inspiring, is rather a paradigm of shortsightedness. The account of Obama writing his own strategy, with the goal of placating the party, after military leaders failed to provide him one other than escalation cannot deliver anything visionary. Any Afghan strategy is doomed to fail until solution takes into consideration the fact that enemies US is trying to defeat are the same who were allies during cold war and were used and then ingloriously dumped and the whole place was condemned to mend for itself when not useful in the reckoning of power game. And misplaced overemphasis on the center at the cost of periphery is always perilous.

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