I was reading a diary on DKos from “Sgt Major Meyers” on the subject of honor. It gave me an understanding of a word we often hear, but typically gloss over – an understanding from a career military perspective:
Throughout my life growing up in a military family and in my military career, one predominate trait or quality was emphasized and driven home by both my family and every leader I have ever met. That trait or quality was honor. Just to refresh your memory the dictionary defines honor as: honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions – a man of honor.
From the time I had what I believe was probably my very first logical thought about the subject I do not believe that there was ever any doubt in my mind of what the meaning of honor was, nor was there ever any doubt of what actions honor required. There was a second thing that I never had any doubt about, and that was that once one’s honor was compromised it was a permanent and oft never fading blemish. I know this from personal experience and from my own personal failures against which I struggle to this very day. I point this out because I believe that even the most honorable and well intentioned people with the most hard earned sense of honor can fail and that they can be guilty of being dishonorable, and I believe that this has happened in the presidential race.
This is what Obama should challenge McCain on – his honor, or lack thereof.
A parallel challenge could be made to Sarah Palin, and to her inch-deep Christianity, along the same lines, but this is a much more difficult tack in the current climate, with the current players. And Sarah, like George Bush, is a much more devious and skilled manipulator, able to turn back any such attack with ease.
Most of us during these last few days are once again, awakening to the sad realization that good ideas and good character are not enough to win an election – otherwise we’d probably be wrapping up the final years of the Gore Administration. Lying and bullying behavior has to be confronted and effectively rebuffed. If it isn’t, no one will respect Obama, no matter how great his ideas or his character.
For someone as high minded as Obama, and who is operating with a distinct handicap – “Jackie Robinson rules” – this is his greatest challenge: to move past “merely” being able to bring people together over good ideas, and to boldly confront the white establishment about its shameful lack of honor, and to make it stick. This is the next level, the next step in his growth as a leader and as a human being. And I think the Republicans know this – they know they’re dealing with a squeaky clean class nerd, who, for many reasons has difficulty fighting them effectively. They found his weakness.
I’m reminded of what it was like in high school to be a nerd. I may have been good at various scholastic subjects, but in the larger scheme of things, the jocks ruled. Had I known then what I know today, I never would have tolerated the bullying and abusive behavior of these jealous boors. And as Kurt Vonnegut so aptly pointed out, life is nothing but high school:
When you get to be our age, you all of a sudden realize you are being ruled by people you went to high school with. You all of a sudden catch on that life is nothing BUT high school. You make a fool of yourself in high school, then go to college to learn how you should have acted in high school, then you get into real life and that turns out to be high school again – class officers, cheerleaders, and all.
“Honor” and “Shame” are emotionally laden words, that Republicans, including John McCain are sensitive to, even if they don’t fully get their meanings. They’re powerful weapons waiting to be used, to turn back the far right’s wall of bullshit. Will Obama understand the challenge he faces right now, that good ideas and good character aren’t enough by themselves to get through this high school kind of world we’re in?