By Andy Weddington
05 November 2008
Last night, during his gracious and eloquent concession speech, John McCain assumed full responsibility for defeat. The audience attempted to bemoan his self-admitted failure but he would not hear of it and rightfully so. As a naval officer who was once entrusted with command, he well knows a unit’s commanding officer is responsible for everything the unit does and fails to do. Leading a campaign for the presidency of the United States is no different. The agony of defeat was his and his alone to shoulder. And had he won, the fruits of victory would have likewise been his to savor. Ask anyone who has been in command; it is lonely at the top. McCain is a warrior of impeccable character—that is why I voted for him. I did not vote against Barack Obama.
For weeks, the experts and soothsayers predicted a lopsided Obama victory, barring any unpredictable belch, and that is what happened—almost to the exact call of the Electoral College vote; proof there is much science that can be applied to the art of politics. As the race was nearing Election Day it was clear the only possible belch that could sink Obama’s brilliant, machine-like campaign was something disastrous coming from between the lips of his running mate, Joe Biden. It nearly happened when Biden fouled the air with his “…Obama would be tested by an international crisis…” remark. Let’s just say it was the belch heard round the world. That’s why Obama, the savvy candidate he was, opted to prematurely issue his first executive order: gag and bind Biden. The press noticed something had been done to hush Biden when he was abruptly less visible on the trail and not available for interviews. Suspicions were confirmed last night when Biden joined Obama on stage after his victory speech. Camera close-ups of the vice president elect quickly pulled back when it became clear there was duct tape residue and tape burns on his cheeks. Now the staff is asking, “Where was makeup?” Rumor has it the pancake dabbers and powder puffers had already popped the tops on cool ones.
Humor aside, it’s time to get on with our country’s business. In America we can agree to disagree. The mark of a professional—a true American—is disagreeing civilly through the cast of a vote. Civil disobedience and violence accomplishes nothing. When casting of the votes is complete and the argument decided we can still agree to disagree but we must move forward—as one. It’s the day after the election and we are struggling to stay afloat in a financial sewer, the world remains a dangerous place—enemies are ever vigilant schlepping about, scheming, and trying to destroy our way of life. To counter, we have armed forces globally deployed and fighting two wars to keep the enemy on the run and the fight away from our shores. That Barack Obama will soon anchor “the chair” in the Oval Office will not end the fanatical efforts of those trying to do us harm. We will always, always have enemies. And Obama must, when sworn into office on January 20th, 2009, do, to the best of his ability, “…preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Though he and he alone will be responsible, he cannot do his job alone. Every single American has a duty to contribute. To those of you who are able-bodied and age appropriate, especially those voting for Obama and his “Change” platform, you had better be ready not if, but when, the time comes to march yourself to a military recruiting station and volunteer to protect and defend that which you voted for. It’s all about character.
As to character, it is with right hand over heart, that we say the Pledge of Allegiance—to country; not one man—the president. Our pledge was first introduced October 11th, 1892 and after three revisions matured on June 14th, 1954. It reads: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” Thirty-one carefully crafted words, that when backed up by the collective muscle of several hundred millions citizens, is a force to be reckoned with. As a retired Marine I know my duty. Come January 20th , 2009—Inauguration Day—I will come to attention, render a crisp salute, and be prepared to smartly carry out any orders that, though unlikely, may come my way and do so to the best of my ability. My wife, a Navy Commander, will follow suit. Without question, all who have worn or presently wear the cloth of our nation will do the same. Quite simply it is service—Duty, Honor, Country—to our nation; not one man.
I have not met Barack Obama and most probably never will. Therefore I will reserve judgment as to whether I like him or not. In a couple of blogs I penned prior to yesterday’s election my sentiments about Obama were blunt—they were honest. I do not like that he willingly established and maintained personal relationships— and in some cases close personal relationships—with people who have only disdain for our country. I do not like that he has been less than forthright about those relationships. I do not like that he opted more than a hundred times to acknowledge “Present” during Senate votes—that is not leadership. I do not like his idea about “spreading the wealth.” I do not like the direction he wants to take our country—a country that is an experiment—founded and built into a world power on fundamental principles of hard work, reward for hard work, and at the cost of an enormous amount of sweat, blood, suffering, loss of limb and life, and heavy-hearted grief that has been willingly sacrificed by our citizenry. And, I do not like whatsoever, that he is going to be Commander-in-Chief of our nation’s military. A military whose members are and will continue to be held to a higher standard of personal conduct than he, our newly elected president, has demonstrated throughout his life. It is quite an irony that the man who will soon be leading our armed forces would have a difficult time passing a background investigation for a security clearance that many in uniform—enlisted and officer—are granted only after the most rigorous of government snooping into their lives—to include polygraph for the topmost clearances. Who knows, perhaps one day I will meet Barack Obama and I may like him yet never change my opinion about his politics. I have many friends that voted for Obama. I don’t understand why but they did. Their decision has not caused me to dislike them. We agree to disagree.
There is no point Monday morning quarterbacking the election. It is over—like it or not. Barack Obama will not be our first black president. If I recall correctly, that distinction belongs to Bill Clinton. Or so it is said—perhaps in jest, I don’t know. But, Barack Obama will be the first American president who happens to be black. The difference is subtle but significant. Race was not an issue with the majority of voters—Obama could not have won the election without significant white vote. And as we have not referred to our previous 43 presidents as “white presidents,” there’s no need to start using a modifier—a color descriptor—for president now. My perspective is not intended to casually dismiss the historical significance of our nation electing an African American (American who happens to be of African descent)—a black man—to the presidency. Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States of America—period—simple as that. No one is certain how President Obama will govern. But one thing is for certain: in four years we will have the opportunity to assess his performance by voting.
This morning President Bush—43—briefly addressed the nation extending his congratulations to President-elect Obama. His remarks were sincere and gracious and included a warm and welcoming invitation to the Obama family to visit the White House. President Bush has promised a cordial and comprehensive transition of power. Now that is leadership. That is character. That is an example for all of us to follow. God bless America.