Did you watch the “debate” last night between Obama and McCain? I did and the one thing I learned that I didn’t know before, is that I’m John McCain’s "friend." In fact, we all are his friend, his bestest buddy and if we only knew that—along with knowing what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are—we’d be voting for him, gosh darn it!
Repeatedly last night when answering a question, he’d refer to the questioner and the general audience, which includes us out there in TV-land, as “friend”. While McCain may have thought he was “coming down” to our level by continually calling us friends, what it felt like to me was something Gavin DeBecker in his book the Gift of Fear calls forced teaming. Using this word is trying to establish a pre-mature trust. Hey, we’re sharing a predicament and I’m here to help us out. But it’s a tactic a persuasion-predator uses, says DeBecker. Unlike someone charging us with a knife, what a persuasion-predator does instead is look for someone vulnerable (undecided voters?) who will allow him to be in control, and then attack.
The last time I saw someone calling another “friend” as much as McCain did last night was during the movie No Country For Old Men. In an especially tense scene, Anton Chigurh, the killer and antagonist is having a conversation with the owner of a gas station. He’s calling him friendo, and whether he kills the man or not, depends upon how the old man calls the coin toss, heads or tails. Chigruh was not this man's friend, and I, Senator McCain am not yours.
The outcome of this election feels like it could be determined by the flip of a coin. Call one side and we could see health care as a right and withdrawal from Iraq before the next Olympics. Call the other, and we could see health care as a responsibility (or privilege as it is now) and another 100 years of our troops in Iraq. It does seem that we navigate a balance worthy of Philippe Petit.
In the meantime, McCain’s twitching, his attempts at humor, and his condescending attitude, (Yes Sen. McCain, I actually may know the names and whereabouts of countries we will be in conflict with in the future—hell my friends and I have probably visited them—unlike your vice-presidential pick) left me feeling that perhaps this is no country for old men. Or at least this old man.