Omid Memarian

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why This Election is All About Character, Not Real Issues
(this piece first published on HuffingtonPost)

Sen. McCain's risky decision to run his presidential campaign based on character assassination, spreading fear and hatred and even questioning the patriotism of members of Congress, is the best indication that, come November, the Americans' decisions will be based more on the candidates' characters rather than real issues.

For some reason, whether it is because he is loosing control over his campaign, has weak stance in the Republican Party or has an obsessive desire to go the While House, McCain's behavior over the past few months has displayed an alarming inconsistency in his character, which is at odds with his previous alleged values and principles.

John McCain has repeatedly said he is not President Bush. But he is using the same fear mongering tactics that Bush has employed during the past eight years. The difference is that McCain is using those tactics against a "decent" citizen, a member of Congress who has been serving his country for more than 20 years. McCain has applied the same good-evil philosophy of the Bush administration, believing that everybody who is not for us is against us. Thus, it is not surprising that one of McCain's surrogates mentioned investigating members of Congress to see who is pro-American and who is anti-American, one of the most divisive allegations we have seen since the McCarthy era.

It fits in this evil-good doctrine that Sarah Palin can categorize the country into Pro-America areas and call her opponent somebody "who is palling around with terrorists." The fact that terms like "kill him" and "terrorist" have become the dominant narrative of aMcCain's campaign indicates which John McCain Americans will get to vote for come election day.

With it becoming more and more obvious that the United States is experiencing its worst time economically, politically and morally since World War II, running a divisive, polarizing campaign based on fear and hatred is the last thing Americans need.

If newspapers that traditionally endorse the Republican candidate shift their support to Obama, this will further illustrate how McCain's character flip-flop and lack of consistency have affected the public sphere. Colin Powel's endorsement and, more importantly, the justifications for his endorsement are also indications of McCain's poor judgment in choosing to run a negative campaign:
"I come to the conclusion that because of his [Obama's] ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities -- and you have to take that into account -- as well as his substance -- he has both style and substance," Powell said. "He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president."
People generally vote based on their candidate's character. Character gives them a general impression about who their President is going to be and what they will represent. It's hard for many people to remember details of policies candidates promise, but they surely can see what kind of character can transcend race, religion and class and mobilize the country to move down a path it left eight years ago.

Just a few weeks prior to the elections, it's now clear that John McCain, the war hero and John McCain, the 2008 Presidential candidate are two distinct personalities. He contradicts the essential values and norms that he fought for decades ago.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"NYT: McCain camp pushed Ayers report"

You might thing it's just the economy on the edge of fall, but for many it's the mainstream media; by fueling the nasty and silly season of politics.  Four weeks before the general elections, cable networks, some of the newspapers and major talk shows systematically divert the attention of people from the first issue of the United States, economy, to the nasty attacks that are used by Sen. McCain's campaign against Sen. Obama. It was not surprising, and is not the first time, that the Times distance itself from objective journalism and will not be the last one, but it's a sad sign for the media which instead of being a pillar for democracy is a major factor to distort it:
"As the McCain campaign has launched a full-scale assault on Barack Obama’s relationship to ‘60s radical William Ayers, vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has explained the timing this way: The New York Times made us do it.

The Times published a front-page story about Ayers and Obama on Saturday, and Palin said Tuesday she was simply “responding to the news of the day” by repeatedly mentioning Ayers on the stump.

Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, sees the timetable for the Ayers uproar in a very different way, however. He told Politico that the paper was motivated to report out the Ayers link because the McCain campaign has been pushing it — not the other way around.

“We've reported the Ayers relationship before, and we had it on our to-do list for a while to take a more comprehensive look,” Keller said in an e-mail. “When the McCain campaign began to make it a major focal point of ads and stump speeches, we decided the time was right.” (Read the rest of the story here)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"KEATING ECONOMICS: John McCain & The Making of a Financial Crisis"

During the past week, Obama and McCain's campaign have been attacking each other over a variety of issues, backed by TV ads. Among what I've seen, the one that Obama campaign has released recently about Sen. McCain's involvement in Keating Scandal is well made and professionally impressive. It's not a sort of video that has made on a gaffe or a mis-statement over a week. This shows the Obama camp has been working on TV ads like this for a while. The fact that his campaign welcomed turning the direction of the campaign from the first issue of the time, economy, to characters of the candidate, might be a hint that they have provided enough material for going that way...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bob Woodward: Bush Said His Iran Strategy Was "They're A**holes"

When Admiral Fallen asked in a meeting with President Bush what the U.S. strategy toward Iran is, he responded; " They're assholes." There is a very famous saying that "leaders are the essence of their nations." Unlike many people around the world, I am so hesitant to agree this applies to the American people. President Bush simply is not what the United States is all about. An administration that not only thinks this way about Iranians, but also has the same idea about the other countries. You can not do what you do in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places on the planet unless you think they are "a**holes". When you characterize your enemies in this way, then you can torture them, bomb them, humiliate them and legitimize it under the cover of patriotism and defending the country. No matter you are a Democrat or a Republican, what has been done during the Bush era takes decades for the United States to fix.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why there is no victory in Iraq ... and McCain's outdated foreign  policy model!

Below you see my opinions about last week's presidential elections, U.S. foriegn policy and also the issues that are missed in the mainstream media in the United States in an interview with Frontline/world, PBS:

"The U.S and other countries are under the imminent threat of micro-terrorism conducted not by hostile states but by non-state actors and ideological groups with strong beliefs on how to change the current global order. These are the groups that can carry a nuclear bomb in a suitcase to the United States and do something catastrophic without the involvement of any country.

In the era of "new wars," the U.S. needs to reframe its perception of friend and foe if it wants to strengthen its position in the global war on terror. For example, recruiting Iran and Syria to be on America's side in the war against terrorism is such a step. America should look at forming coalitions with a long-term view. Should it compromise? Of course!
Regarding the numbers and outcomes of the polls, it seems that American society is not in favor of a solution-based discourse. The debate reminds me of Hollywood. They are the people who admire Batman, Hancock, Superman and Spiderman and seem to like leaders who rely on their muscles and power instead of their minds. Instead of looking at politics as a chess game, they look at it as a boxing match. (rest of the interview here)

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