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The Value Of Experience

As I poked around the blogosphere this morning, seeing what various and sundry pundits had to say about last night's debate, One particular opiner of the sinister political bent (who shall remain nameless) brought up McCain's appearance -- in particular, the left side of his face.

Also, based on McCain's face, he's trying out for the lead in the next Mask movie.

I was irritated by that, but I had to admit -- it kept grabbing my attention, too. And it was quite distracting.

But then I started thinking about it.

McCain's face bears the marks of a very unpleasant brush with skin cancer. In 2000 doctors discovered a tumor on his face that turned out to be Stage IIA melanoma, where IV is the most severe. They performed serious surgery to excise it and do all they could to make sure it wouldn't come back. Had McCain paid attention to the warning signs sooner, he could have been spared the scarring he bears today.

In 2002, he had another bout of melanoma. This was a tiny spot on his nose, and was removed with a minimum of fuss.

It was caught so quickly because McCain now pays a hell of a lot more attention to such things.

That struck me as part of a pattern.

In 1989, John McCain -- along with four other senators -- were accused of violating ethical rules while helping out savings and loan scumbag Charles Keating, intervening with regulators to keep them from noticing Keating had essentially robbed his customers blind and run his bank into the ground. Three (all Democrats) were found to have broken Congressional rules; McCain and John Glenn (also Democrat) were found to have not violated any rules, but exercised poor judgment in the matter.

After his return from five years of captivity in Viet Nam, John McCain let himself go wild in his personal life. He repeatedly cheated on his wife, and eventually the two divorced.

He'd also been a hellraiser before his capture. The stories of his carousing are nearly the stuff of legend in Navy history.

Even before he got there, though, he had shown himself to be at best an indifferent student. He graduated near the bottom of his class at Annapolis.

Sounds pretty damning, doesn't it? Yeah, until you look at what Paul Harvey likes to call "the rest of the story."

After his return from Viet Nam, McCain cracked down on himself in regards to his career. He battled back from crippling injuries and returned to active duty, eventually rising to command a training squadron. And not just any training squadron -- one that had a dismal record and turning it around, winning its first commendation.

After his divorce, McCain realized what he'd thrown away. He mended his relatinship with his ex-wife, not reconciling but staying cordial. He remarried and worked like hell on keeping that marriage together.

After dodging a bullet with the Keating Five, McCain found himself seeing just how corrosive the influence of money on politics can be. He made himself into a crusader on the issue, with all the annoying fervor of the ex-smoker or ex-drinker, going after elements of the problem as earmarks and campaign finance.

And after he had his face sliced open and was left permanently marred as a direct result of his negligence, he paid a hell of a lot more attention to his skin's health. When he had another bout of skin cancer, he spotted the symptoms almost as soon as they appeared, and it was excised with a minimum of fuss.

As I said, this is a pattern. A pattern of John McCain making mistakes.

And learning from them.

It's a cliche' to talk about McCain being a "straight talker," but that's because it's largely true. He's never been bashful about admitting his mistakes, of owning them and owning up to them. Hell, most of the people who obsess over his personal failings find themselves using McCain himself as their best source -- especially about his first marriage.

McCain, like most people, is far from perfect. But unlike most people, he readily admits his shortcomings and his failures -- and works like hell to learn from them.

On the other hand, we have his opponent. Barack Obama, the man who it seems never makes mistakes.

No, when Obama appears to make a mistake, it's not his error. You were mistaken when you thought he'd done that. Or you have your facts wrong. Or it happened long ago, and is just a distraction.

For example, his association with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. Ayers was just some guy in the neighborhood, someone whose kids went to the same school as the Obama children.

Then he was some guy who was on the same board as Obama, and they saw each other a few times at meetings.

Then he was the guy who was on two boards with Obama.

Then he was the guy who put Obama in charge of one of those boards.

But that's all irrelevant, because Ayers' crimes happened when Obama was eight years old.

Just like it's irrelevant that Ayers has never shown the slightest regret for his crimes. Indeed, he's boastful of them -- after he was freed because of prosecutorial misconduct, he declared "guilty as hell, free as a bird -- America is a great country." And he says that he and his former buddy terrorists (who were still active into the 1980's), maybe they didn't blow up enough things.

Things such as a dance for enlisted Army personnel. Things such as the home of a judge and his family.

Or, for example, the Iraq war.

Obama touts as the great example of his judgment that he came out against the war from the outset. Well, congratulations, Senator.

But since then, he's been consistently wrong. When General Petraeus presented his "surge" strategy to the Senate, Obama predicted that it would fail, miserably, and voted against confirming Petraeus and tacitly endorsing the new strategy.

Well, the "surge" seems to have worked, quite thoroughly, but Obama won't admit that he might have been mistaken in his assessment.

Obama talks about sounding a "warning" about the impending collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Well, good for him. But when several senators -- including John McCain and my own Senator John Sununu -- put together a letter of their own and tried to put together a bill to rein in the insane practices going on at those two institutions, Obama said "include me out."

But instead of saying yeah, he maybe should have done something more than just write a letter, he wants full credit for doing that and nothing more.

Think about the people you know. Nobody's perfect; we all screw up on occasion. How do the people you know handle that, and which do you respect and trust more?

One type admits it, owns up, tries to fix it, and watches extra-carefully to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Another type refuses to acknowledge error. They see that as an admission of weakness, and instead fight like hell to deny that they ever made that mistake. They will argue and rationalize and defend what they did so that they don't have to admit that they were human, that they messed up.

And they are the ones who are far more likely to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

I know which of the two i prefer to deal with, which I put more trust and faith in. And it ain't the guy who never makes mistakes.

We have a clear example of these two types, in John McCain and Barack Obama. And I know which of the two I'd rather put my faith in.


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Comments (28)

Excellent post.Cap... (Below threshold)

Excellent post.

Captures one of the things I like best about McCain.

No, when Obama appears t... (Below threshold)

No, when Obama appears to make a mistake, it's not his error.

"U.S. Sen. Barack Obama expressed regret late Friday for his 2005 land purchase from now-indicted political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko in a deal that enlarged the senator's yard.

"I consider this a mistake on my part and I regret it," Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times in an exclusive and revealing question-and-answer exchange about the transaction."


Mr Obama has also stressed his activities were part of a youthful behaviour he has long left behind and which he does not condone. In an interview with The State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield, Illinois, he said: "I was a confused kid and was making a bunch of negative choices based on stereotypes of what I thought a tough young man should be. Those choices were misguided, a serious mistake. Growing up to be a man involves taking responsibility. By the time I was 20, I was no longer engaged in any of this stuff."


[Sens. Clinton and Obama] were asked which votes they would take back in their senatorial careers. Clinton cited her vote for the Iraq war; Obama said his vote for Terri Schiavo.

"It wasn't something I was comfortable with, but it was not something that I stood on the floor and stopped. And I think that was a mistake," Obama said at the debate. "And as a constitutional law professor, I knew better ... and I think that's an example of inaction, and sometimes that can be as costly as action."

And aside from the surge 's... (Below threshold)

And aside from the surge 'success,' on what regarding the Iraq War has Sen. Obama been wrong?

I put that in quotes out of deference to Sen. Obama's position, which I believe has some merit - that while violence has fallen, the Iraqis still have not taken responsibility for the country's defense, and until that occurs it's presumptuous to go around saying 'it worked!'

Yea, but can McCain dance w... (Below threshold)
Michelle's American White Racist:

Yea, but can McCain dance with Oprah? No.

Annapolis turns out extraor... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

Annapolis turns out extraordinary men.
Graduating, even near the bottom, from Annapolis gives McCain WAY more cred than someone who knows nothing of military affairs... Especially for candidates hoping to become Commander in Chief of the armed forces.

"Obama touts as the grea... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"Obama touts as the great example of his judgment that he came out against the war from the outset.

Even that is a remarkably poor example of judgement.

First, the Iraq war being a "wrong" decision is a matter of opinion, not fact. Even if the majority holds that opinion, that opinion is still just an opinion and does not automatically become fact.

And second, Obama gave as his reasoning for opposing the war at that time, that it would be of undetermined length, undetermined monitary cost, an undetermined cost in human lives. Well that logic might be good enough for Parth or a Wizblue author, but a thinking person would realize that there has never before in the history of the world been a war where they knew going into it how long it would take, how much it owuld cost, or how many would die.

Using Obama's judgement, war is never justified. That is very poor judgement.

And just because he was originally on the side that became most popular after the terrorist weapons in the US (i.e., the press and the Democrat Party) turned pubic opinion in favor of the US being defeated (or as terrorist weapons like to say "end the war") does not make that judgement any less poor.

Uh-oh, looks like Joe the p... (Below threshold)

Uh-oh, looks like Joe the plummer is linked to the keatings. looks bad. Also great debate last night looks like mccain managed to convince about 35% of the country that he is the right man for the job.

Luckily for us the pollsters are in our pockets. We now have the pollsters, the press, wikipedia, the Nobel prize committee and many many more. ALL HAIL THE VAST LEFT WING CONSPIRACY!!

Yes, let's talk about the M... (Below threshold)

Yes, let's talk about the McCain experience here.

After a 26 year record of voting against children's issues and being rated as the worst senator on these issues by the Children's Defense Action Fund, McCain claimed some great new concern for autism last night, claiming that Palin's son has autism, and went on and on about the subject like any true liar does.

The fact is that Palin's young son has Down Syndrome, not autism. But it sure sounded good for a politician like McCain to claim a new-found concern for kids after 26 years of votes in Washington against issues that benefit children's needs during the debate.

Jay, you forgot one important description of John McCain. He's a major league wanker, who is jerking off the nation whenever he speaks, like last night about his claimed new concern for autism despite being on record killing funding for so many children's issues or even cowardly voting "present" many times so that he could run for president this year and not be tagged down with his rotten record there.

McCain was against Bush when it was to his political advantage, and with Bush when it was to his political advantage. This politician does whatever he needs to run for office. Period.

McCain has had 26 years of this Washington experience where McCain and his political ambitions are job #1 and telling gullible voters anything they want to hear to get elected is always right there first and foremost.

Last night was just more of the same old John McCain, another longtime Washington politician in office way too long. That's some experience.

Paul -McCain didn'... (Below threshold)

Paul -

McCain didn't claim Palin's son had autism. I was watching, and he used her son as a general example.

Come on, man - I know you're so far in the tank for Obama you need to use deep-sea breathing mixes to avoid nitrogen narcosis, but at least TRY to be honest.

Paul, I usually expect more... (Below threshold)

Paul, I usually expect more from you but your comments are just plain insane. You want to talk about children? How about the altimate. Dems want to kill them, republicans want them to live. You cannot get more pro children then that. Also, go over the bills McCain voted against vote for vote. Give us the background CDAF. All the answers are there. You my scooter loving friend have gone idiotic. ww

That struck me as part o... (Below threshold)

That struck me as part of a pattern.

You created your own pattern. Those who actually knew and know McCain tell a different story.

"Yea, but can McCain dance ... (Below threshold)

"Yea, but can McCain dance with Oprah? No."

And that's a good thing.


Ha. You wish.

"Those who actually knew and know McCain tell a different story."

Brian, how can you be so redundant? Jay already covered that, and more. If you can't that, you just refuse to.

Parthenon, granted Obama's ... (Below threshold)

Parthenon, granted Obama's interview with the Sun Times qouted him as "regretful". It was also two years ago. He seems to have changed his mind on that a bit as he continually defends himself and his relationship with Rezko by answering only to one small aspect of that relationship; the purchase of his home. His dealings with Rezko went a lot - deeper - than - that.

There you go again Paul Hos... (Below threshold)

There you go again Paul Hossie, leaving lee lee all by himself again. Back boy, back.

Oyster, that's a fair point... (Below threshold)

Oyster, that's a fair point. I'll admit I don't know enough about the Rezko affair to comment intelligently - this is one of those cases where I have to trust the investigators and journalists whose job it is to dig into this stuff for those folks like you and me who don't have the time or resources. I was merely providing a counter-argument to JT's assertion that Sen. Obama has a problem with admitting his mistakes.

well, there is your mistake... (Below threshold)

well, there is your mistake, Parthenon, trusting the journalists who are in the tank for Obama.

Take the Rolling Stones article that Brian linked to, for instance. That's just a typical hit piece from them against any body with an R after there name. You can't can't trust the media to even pretend to be impartial investigators anymore.

Seriously, when was the last time you saw a major media outlet other than fox have anything good to say about any conservative? Ever?

The problem with Obama 'admitting' his mistakes, is that he really doesn't. He 'admits' to something less than the full truth and then points to that admission as covering the whole controversy.

Like when pressed on the surge, he could never admit that he was on the wrong side of it. And if you believe that Iraq has not been stepping up to the task in their own country, you obviously haven't been reading Michael Yon, Michael Totten, or Strategy Page.

Answer me this: how many Iraqi provinces have been turned over to Iraqi security since the beginning of the year? How many are left to fully turn over? And how much of this has been reported by those journalists that you trust so much for the news?

Wow, Hooson went from his n... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Wow, Hooson went from his normal raving nutjob mode to full blown hate mode. That's a good sign.

P. Bunyan,No, it's j... (Below threshold)

P. Bunyan,
No, it's just his motorcycle turning on and trying to kill him with CO fumes.

[Sens. Clinton and Obama... (Below threshold)

[Sens. Clinton and Obama] were asked which votes they would take back in their senatorial careers. Clinton cited her vote for the Iraq war; Obama said his vote for Terri Schiavo.

Obama never actually cast a vote re: Schiavo

According to the NY Times: "The Senate, with no objections, "

Just a hunch, but I bet Barry wasn't one of 'em. Only in his mind can you take back a vote you never cast*.

*Unless you can find the roll call then proves otherwise.

Parthenon, he does h... (Below threshold)

Parthenon, he does have a problem admitting his mistakes and I find it more than interesting that after eight years of the left harping on Bush for a failure to do the same, they ignore that their #1 candidate can't do it either. Obama admitted that taking drugs was a mistake. Well, duh. I certainly hope so. He regrets his vote on Schiavo while actually admitting he was "uncomfortable" with it when he did it. I find that more disturbing than if he'd simply said he was wrong. He regrets buying a house with the help of Rezko, now move along, nothing else to see here. Admitting to error in one small aspect of his dealings with Rezko, while also defending it, strikes me as saying, "I only regret it because it looked improper." It also deflects attention from a lot more that IS improper.

All too often, rather than say, "I changed my mind because..." or, "Upon further reflection..." his usual remark is, "I never said that," when it's plainly preserved in transcripts and on video what he said. The problem is, most who are already committed to voting for him won't check or don't care.

I honestly think that for some people, even they can't admit they made a mistake in vocally supporting him. In constantly defending him, they're also defending themselves. I won't guess how many, but I know they're out there.

Aw, crud. Not sure what hap... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Aw, crud. Not sure what happened, but here's the excerpt from NY Times again:

The Senate, with no objections, approved the measure Sunday afternoon by a voice vote with just a few senators on hand.

Peter F., it was a voice vo... (Below threshold)

Peter F., it was a voice vote.

Peter F., it was a voice... (Below threshold)

Peter F., it was a voice vote.

I got that. But that must be recorded somewhere, yes?

Very hard to find any polit... (Below threshold)

Very hard to find any politician that will admit their mistakes. Obama will never admit anything unless it is politcally helpful to himself....So watch out for the Bus.

That's a good question, Pet... (Below threshold)

That's a good question, Peter. I couldn't find anything. Just FYI - when I posted that last comment, I should have refreshed the page first and I would have seen you already had it :)

Take the Rolling Stones ... (Below threshold)

Take the Rolling Stones article that Brian linked to, for instance. That's just a typical hit piece from them against any body with an R after there name. You can't can't trust the media to even pretend to be impartial investigators anymore.

So Jay writing from his own mind is good journalism, but an article that has actual quotes and opinions from people who know and work with McCain... that's a "hit piece"?

No, when Obama appears t... (Below threshold)

No, when Obama appears to make a mistake, it's not his error.


Then he was the guy who put Obama in charge of one of those boards..


Well, the "surge" seems to have worked, quite thoroughly, but Obama won't admit that he might have been mistaken in his assessment.


So, Jay. Nobody's perfect; we all screw up on occasion. How do you handle that? Are you the type that admits it, owns up, tries to fix it, and watches extra-carefully to make sure it doesn't happen again? Or the type that refuses to acknowledge error?

I like Brian's post :) It u... (Below threshold)

I like Brian's post :) It uses the kind of emotional rhetoric that McCain slathers on when he lies and exagerrates.






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