The American dream revolves around the notion that no matter how meager your circumstances in life, if you work hard in this country, you can accomplish anything--no matter how great.
Republicans pay lip service to the American dream, but they spit on those who actually achieve it, calling them elitists. Those who have made it and want to reach out a hand to help others climb that same ladder are called socialists by republicans.
The other day on CNN, a republican informed me that Barack Obama is an elitist who eats arugula. This dismayed me. Arugula? Could I really vote for a person who only wants to eat expensive lettuce? Who prefers the bitter taste of arugula to watery, tasteless iceberg? I decided I had to rethink my support of Obama and compare these candidates.
Here is a bit of what I discovered.
John McCain went to a private elite boarding school, where he was an admittedly "lousy student."
There, McCain behaved with all the petulance his privilege allowed, earning the nicknames "Punk" and "McNasty." Even his friends seemed to dislike him, with one recalling him as "a mean little fucker."
Barack Obama went to a private high school in Hawaii--on scholarship. He graduated this private Academy with honors.
In more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Mr. Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised...
John McCain went on to Annapolis, with his admiral father pulling a few strings.
By his own account, McCain was a lazy, incurious student; he squeaked by only by prevailing upon his buddies to help him cram for exams. He continued to get sauced and treat girls badly.
Back on campus, McCain's short fuse was legend...When McCain was not shown the pampering to which he was accustomed, he grew petulant — even abusive. He repeatedly blew up in the face of his commanding officer.
He was a huge screw-off," recalls Butler. "He was always on probation. The only reason he graduated was because of his father and his grandfather — they couldn't exactly get rid of him."
At Annapolis, he faced expulsion but his mother intervened. He graduated 5th from the bottom in his class: 894th out of a class of 899.
Barack Obama started at Occidental College in LA.
...old friends and former teachers at the well-regarded 120-year-old school proudly described him as a serious scholar and a good athlete.
Roger Boesche, a professor of politics...said [he] was "a very thoughtful student and a very curious student."
Former professor Newhall said Obama already showed glimpses of social conscience. "Clearly the guy had a presence," he said. "He came off as a serious, articulate, intelligent young guy," Newhall recalled.
Unlike McCain (who liked to start arguments), Obama "has a great sense of humor and could defuse an argument," according to fellow dorm resident John Boyer, who described Obama as "a very principled person in how he formulated his views."
Obama transferred to Columbia University in NY. He majored in "political science and international relations and [wrote] his thesis on Soviet nuclear disarmament." (New York Times)
John McCain joined the military and developed a gambling habit; he said he found craps "addictive." (McCain is still an avid gambler.) By his own admission, he "...drove a Corvette, dated a lot, spent all my free hours at bars and beach parties."
He was a poor pilot and crashed several planes before heading to Vietnam. Everyone is familiar with his Vietnam experiences, though as fellow POWs point out in Rolling Stone, McCain caved and gave his captors information. His fellow POWs complain that republicans and the media make him out to be more heroic than the other 600 POWs, yet they say many of them did not cave under torture despite being treated as badly or worse than John McCain.
When he came back to the states, McCain was turned down for a postgraduate program at the National War College, but his father's friend John Warner pulled strings to get him admitted; McCain stayed for 9 months. He claimed he went to study "how and why the country went into Vietnam," but his thesis is more mundane: how the military's post-Korean War changes to the Code of Conduct for POWs played out on the ground in Vietnam. (LA Times)
Barack Obama, after spending several years as a community activist, went to Harvard Law school. He became the first African American elected president of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude and was known as "a natural leader, an impressive student, a nice guy," with deep concern for social and economic issues.
John McCain has had a lifelong disrespect toward women; in high school, he was hauled into court for hurling excessive profanity at two young women who spurned his advances.
In college, he admitted he "continued to treat girls badly." In his early days in the military, he boasted about his liaison with at least one stripper.
He married his first wife Carol in 1964, before leaving for the war. He adopted her two sons and they had a daughter. McCain came back to find his wife disfigured from an accident. "By any standard, McCain treated her contemptibly." (Rolling Stone) He committed adultery repeatedly and had dalliances with female subordinates. At age 42--only a few years younger than Barack Obama now--he met a 24-year-old woman and carried on an affair with her though still living with Carol. He divorced Carol, then married Cindy. On one occasion, three reporters witnessed McCain call Cindy a "trollop" and a "cunt," after she joked about his thinning hair.
McCain and Cindy were so out of touch later that he was blindsided to learn she had a two-year drug addiction.
In 2000, it was rumored that McCain had an affair with 40-year-old lobbyist Vicki Iselman. "Two unnamed advisers said McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately - precisely how, the report didn't say - and promised to keep his distance from Iselman." (Daily News)
Barack Obama dated several women in college but there's no hint that he ever treated any woman inappropriately. He met Michelle after college, and they have been married 16 years (though Obama recently said it was only 15! Tsk!) There is no indication he has ever had an inappropriate relationship with another woman.
These candidates differ in other areas, as well--like temperament. McCain admits to having had a nasty temper his entire life, whereas Obama has always been known to be a moderating force, someone who seeks solutions and tries to resolve differences.
Save for those five years in Vietnam, McCain lived his entire life as the son of privilege--spoiled, undeserving of the things he'd been given. Today, he luxuriates in wealth and hobnobs with celebrities and other disreputable individuals, accepting favors from them (ie, Keating).
In contrast, Barack Obama worked for everything he got in life. He earned his success; nothing was handed to him. He rejected a life of privilege to devote years serving those less privileged--people he could relate to through his own life's experiences. Today, he lives modestly and is not known for being boastful.
Despite McCain's nasty attacks--representative of McCain's lifelong character--Obama has always responded with dignity and never stoops to his opponents' level, no matter how much we, his supporters, plead with him to do so.
If you compare these two step by step throughout their lives, you see one man who has always been upstanding and another who claims to have had a transformative experience in Vietnam yet he came back and treated those around him--those he was supposed to cherish most--with complete disregard. For decades, McCain has continued to treat those around him badly, cursing at colleagues and reporters, pushing women in wheel chairs, treating the mothers of MIAs with disdain.
This latest round of attacks by the McCain campaign is the dying gasp of a wretched man. According to the McCain camp, the most significant thing McCain has ever done in his entire life is surviving 5 years in a Vietnam prison camp.
Think about this. Survival is instinctual--everyone will endure what they must in the fight to survive. McCain did not survive those 5 years for us; he did it because nobody wants to die. I believe that is what his fellow POWs were getting at in Rolling Stone. Yes, they were brave to fight for their country and deserve respect for it, but to be a true hero, you have to make the fact that you survived mean something.
McCain has not used his position to help veterans; he has not used his position to help those less fortunate. Instead, he has served the wealthy, which includes himself.
The life McCain has lived since he came back from Vietnam differs little from the life he lived before Vietnam. He's just become more adept at manipulating people and misleading them into believing somehow he's not the same person. As we now see with this year's campaign, he is exactly the same John McCain.
Elitists are people who believe they are better than others due to birth or wealth. McCain is the true elitist here, no matter what kind of lettuce he may eat.