To Michelle Obama (02/21/08)

Posted Feb 21, 2008
Last Updated Apr 6, 2008

politics, government, Obama, McCain, Kosovo

WARNING, this is partisan opinion

Dear Michelle

Regarding "Ohio get out the vote" — at age 81, I write professionally.  Rather slowly anymore, but I write.  So although I favor Barack, I'm declining the invitation to knock on doors or make phone calls, in favor of staying home and writing fiction.  Social Security goes just so  far.

As an author, I am real but not famous.  Since 1969 I've had 27 novels published by major houses, with a few still in print.  In addition, since last November I've been blogging.  Not indiscriminately — I'm an idea disseminator with limited energy, and I sleep a lot anymore — but I post a new blog every week or so.  And mostly my ideas are not political, though some deal with government, and some with the environment.

This letter is political of course.  It seems likely that Barack will be running against John McCain.  And during the Clinton administration, McCain bitterly criticized the Clinton decision to intervene militarily in Kosovo.  Kosovo was hopeless, he argued; we'd get bogged down there as we had in Viet Nam.  He probably added something about the costs in blood and money.  I'm sure one of your staff or volunteers could find a video of it; perhaps more than one.

As it turned out, our intervention succeeded.  John McCain might have been a hero as a military pilot in Viet Nam, and he's a fixture on the Senate's Armed Forces Committee, but he is certainly not infallible on matters military.  (Nor is anyone else.)  As for McCain's screeds on "surrendering to Islam" — Barack can answer that by analysis, at the same time pegging McCain as a typical old-school pol.  

It's interesting that McCain condemned a Democratic president for an international intervention, but supports a Republican president for a much bigger, enormously  more expensive intervention. 

Hillary uses a lot of rhetoric, too.  It tends to go with the game.  Speaking of rhetoric, your husband should be as explicit as he can, in what he intends to do as president.  Rhetoric is tempting — for one thing it fits so nicely in 30-second sound bites — but at least in debates, he needs to create, not knock down.  So far he looks good.

More about Senator McCain: he is persistent, which is not an unalloyed virtue.  Especially when one of the alloys is stubbornness, something to factor into your model of the man as a political opponent.  Stubbornness inclines a person to sticking with their cherished mistakes, and is seldom a virtue.  And as a hard-wired warrior, he tends toward truculence when irritated.  But truculence can backfire.  It may have a place on the docks (I was a stevedore some 60 years ago), but not in the White House.  Truculence wasn't even a good idea in logger's and seamen's bars.  Not even if you were very tough indeed.

I don't know if this will get to you or not.  It depends on your staff, who are very busy folks, but here it comes anyway. 

My best wishes to you.

John Dalmas