What follows is the last post for the interactive book, Politics on the Couch. It is inspired by John McCain's VP choice. Readers' comments are welcome and an integral part of this experiment.
This book is about to be "put to bed," but one last post seems fitting -- a reprise of projection inspired by John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for Vice President. There is no use in re-defining terms, as McCain did that for us by the sign on the podium from which he introduced Governor Palin. The banner read "COUNTRY FIRST," which is what McCain uses to differentiate himself from Senator Obama whom he accuses of putting getting elected ahead of country, by saying that he'd lose a war in order to win an election. Clearly McCain had been projecting all along. Patriotism to him means getting elected.
Fighter pilots take risks; they are trained to react -- largely because of the immediate dangers they face. McCain reacted to Obama's decision to put country first in choosing Biden -- someone every American knows is qualified to take care of our citizenry should he be forced into office -- by turning his first decision as nominee-elect into a football game. He acts like it is third down and 23 to go with the game on the line, and all he has left is throwing a "hail Mary" -- a risky business in the first place, but reckless in the middle of a game: the election is still more than two months away.
He selected someone for the VP slot that he's only met once, who -- though attractive and capable -- is highly inexperienced. He put no thought into whether she could lead the country in the likely event -- given his age and infirmities -- that she might have to. For a Navy Vet, McCain didn't do much vetting.
Negation is but one aspect of projection -- calling himself a patriot while voting against more health care for our veterans. That is closer to hypocrisy. It is like the hypocrisy of all those closeted Republican Congressmen and Senators who oppose gay marriage.
But McCain's VP choice is not negation; it is projection, pure and simple. From this moment on, every accusation McCain makes must be regarded as a description of his own motives and character. In fact, when he talks about Obama "not being ready" to be President, McCain is likely revealing his unconscious self-assessment.
Although the chapter on projection is mostly written, some final comments are more than welcome. Questions include:
What is patriotism? What is putting country first? What is the relationship of risk-taking to thinking? What do sports people mean when they say "winning isn't everything; it's the only thing?" And how does his choice reflect the Rovian desire to win at any cost - something with which every Americans is already familiar?