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McCain vs. McCain: Final Round

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Regardless of what one might think about Obama as a potential president -- and I believe he has the potential to be a great President, but only IF he weans himself off of the array of tired democratic apparatchiks now advising him on finance, foreign policy, and defense, I think it is fair to say that Obama is an instinctive player of OODA loops at the moral level of conflict, even though I don't for a moment think he is familiar with Boyd's strategic theories.

Remember how he got inside Hillary's OODA loops, as was evidenced by chaos, mistrust, and finger pointing inside her campaign. Now the same evidence of chaos is exploding to an even greater degree inside McCain's campaign and among his base, for example, a list compiled by the blogger, Jerry Weissman, puts into perspective the degree to which finger pointing, excuse mongering, and chaos is now metastasizing throughout the conservative pundocracy.

Think about all the political campaigns we have witnessed over the years -- can anyone remember any in which so much mistrust and acrimony has spewed out of campaigns that sensed they were losing? The common denominator in the Hillary/McCain meltdowns is Obama -- who appears to remain above it, infuriatingly cool and aloof, while he subtly baits anger and stokes mistrust in his opponent's camp.

While Obama may have injected the race issue to (successfully?) goad the Clintons into an overreaction, his public daring of McCain to bring up his Ayers attack face-to-face in the third debate is the most obvious case of how he goads his opponents, so obvious in fact, that it seemed almost out of Obama's character. McCain nevertheless announced before the debate he was going for the red cape and then went for it on the same day the Dow dropped by over 700 pts on reports of bad retail profits! And Obama did not even have to defend himself, because Ayers was so obviously irrelevant to the economic concerns of the independent voters McCain must attract to win, while McCain displayed how his temperament can be manipulated under pressure.

So, like Hillary, McCain has impaled himself on the horns of a dilemma of his own making and now faces a stark moral choice: Whereas Hillary faced the fact that she could only win by destroying her own party and did the right thing to save her reputation, McCain faces a more difficult choice: He must now choose between (1) trying to move out of the sewer to salvage what little is left of his self image as a straight-talking maverick and a man of honor who puts country ahead of self, but in so doing, probably make an Obama landslide inevitable as McCain is seen to exit the stage with a whimper; or (2) staying in the sewer, stoking hatred and resentment in the lunatic fringe, and thereby thoroughly demolish the self image he so assiduously built over the years and then return to the Senate with a greatly diminished stature. In either case, he will in all likelihood be a member of an Senate angry minority which blames him, at least in part, for their reduced condition.

The key point here is that while McCain, like Hillary, brought the game-deciding moral dilemma onto himself, Obama is likely to be deemed a lucky or even accidental winner, just like Boyd used to be when he won an argument by allowing his opponent to destroy himself.

At least that is my view from the wilderness.

Chuck Spinney aboard s/v ChaliVentures, lying Marmaris, Turkey