I only bring this up because over the past couple of months, I've had the chance to see a lot of two very different, but still scary, nut balls: Boston Celtics power forward/team raving lunatic Kevin Garnett, and Republican presidential nominee/crotchety old man John McCain. On the outside, these two raisin cakes would appear to have very little in common. One's a 7-foot tall black basketball player who might go down as one of the best to play his position; the other is a flip-flopping politician who likes to cuss out his colleagues on the Senate floor. But looking deeper, I think they're both prime examples of how easily our society is capable of elevating obviously unstable people to positions of immense power/popularity.
Let's look at Garnett first.
It's a well-documented fact that KG gets hyped up beyond the point of normal human brain function, something not really rare in the world of sports, I'll admit, albeit in smaller doses. Crazy hand-slap routines in baseball, those weird dance routines/psych-up circles before basketball games, Ray Lewis' little out-of-the-tunnel jig, it's all pretty standard. Even pretty-boy Tom Brady headbutts the shit out of all his teammates before kickoff. But I think Garnett takes it to a whole new level.
KG is legitimately frightening during games, even run-of-the-mill, regular season games. More than any athlete in history, he takes the whole "chest pounding, screaming at the sky after a basket or foul" thing to new, terrifying heights. He claimed to not be able to sleep for days at a time leading up to important games, and gets to the point where he actually loses the ability to perform in crunch-time situations because he's so jacked up. Before really big games, he even likes to pass the time by talking to and headbutting the pad under the backboard. Just like we used to do in CYO ball, remember?
But is this man committed to the proper institution to be treated and studied like he should? No, he's given commercials for Gatorade and Verizon. Come on now. That's not healthy. You might say that he's just a really, really passionate player. But I think it all came out after the Celtics won the NBA title a few nights back, and I found all the proof I need in this really, really creepy post-game interview:
It's not just the incoherence, the section where he just kind of mumbled "ba duh ba ba, fa ga ba" after a question, the list of places he gave a shout-out to that I'm not sure really exist (especially Peanut), or the fact that he said "I'm not finna sleep for a week" AFTER he finally finished his season's (and life-long) goal. It's the fact that he didn't even seem to know where the hell he was. (Slate ran a great piece dissecting every bit of the interview that's worth a read.) He was in that weird, out-of-body state that sometimes sends serial killers to a mental ward instead of jail after their lawyer pleads insanity on their behalf. Is he a great athlete? No doubt. Did he probably celebrate after the game by covering himself in peanut butter and doing a little dance? I'm not going to rule it out. But hell, let's give him a few more commercials...
Now onto old man McCain. Christ, look at that crazy old bastard...
Anyway, it's not just what McCain represents that scares me, and the promise of what he's actually capable of if the unthinkable happens and he's elected the next President of these United States. It's the fact that there seem to be so many people willing to just get behind him, for reasons that no rational person could ever even hope to understand. I'll clarify...
Back at the start 2000, when he was the man who was a mortal lock to be the Republican nominee for President (funny how Bush kept taking the title from people who were more favored than him that year...), McCain was embraced by America as a maverick, an outsider, and true hero. And he was, for the most part. You will never hear me, and you should never hear anyone, doubt that what McCain went through in Vietnam makes him an American hero. He's no GI Joe, maybe, but close enough. When he was eventually slandered and absolutely destroyed by the flawless Bush campaign machine, he was forced to recede into the background to wait for another turn, but people never lost that sense of admiration that was foisted upon them when McCain emerged as the favorite. It's basically what held him up during this year's Republican primary, even though he was considered all but dead in the water just a month or so before he ran away from Mike Huckabee and the rest of the field to grab the nomination. So much so that people who claim to be "new" Republicans -- that is, Republicans embarrassed by Bush and what he's led America into, and ready for a Republican "revolution," of sorts -- don't seem to realize that he's EXACTLY like Bush in all the most terrifying ways.
There are just three main points that every voter should keep in mind coming into this campaign season, three points that should ensure that McCain has no chance of winning:
- Iraq. It's hard to narrow it down to just one, but I think we can all reach a consensus that the biggest fuck-up to come out of the Bush era is what happened in Iraq, right? Well, McCain is on record of saying that he's "just fine" with being in Iraq for another 100 years!! One hundred!!! Another McCain lifetime! It boggles the mind, how gung-ho he is with matters regarding the military. McCain's one of those military minds who feels that "civilians" have no business running government, and that the armed forces exist to be actively used, not to defend America. What's scarier is that without offering any plan of relieving troops currently stretched thin in Iraq, he's made no qualms about making war with Iran on top of everything else. (Remember that clever little "Bomb Iran" song he sang at a town hall?)
- The Economy. It's as simple as this: At the outset of the damages done by the recession we're in (despite Bush's claim of it being just an "economic slowdown"), McCain has vowed to make the Bush tax cuts PERMANENT. To refresh your memories, those would be the tax cuts that relieve the burden on those multi-millionaires and billionaires who make up the upper echelon of America's upper class. Because that's the problem, right?
- His Age is Showing. Now, I'm no ageist, I wouldn't dare dream of suggesting that just because someone has sailed past the age of retirement that they shouldn't be allowed to pursue even something as lofty as being the President of the United States. (I have two grandmothers, for example, with more vitality and lifeblood in them than I could ever hope to have.) But McCain's not your typical active 72-year old man. Already we've seen him lose track of his thoughts, say the obvious wrong words in a given sentence, misquote his own words, and just seem lost to the point where many people (myself included) have wondered if he's at the onset of Alzheimer's. And he's even had the luxury these past three or four months of being OUT of the main spotlight of the nation's and media's attention -- while we were all focused on the Hillary-Obama war. Now, though, that the spotlight has shifted square onto his lumpy head, I'm wondering how well he'll hold up. The rigors of a presidential campaign have claimed the health, sanity and well-being of younger and more sturdy men than him. There are even rumors that he's considering coming out as aiming for only one term, but is that something that anyone should vote for? Don't you want someone committed to the full extent of an allowed two terms, and setting the path for future leaders? Politics, as they say, is a younger man's game; and although the definition of "young" is a bit different in Washington, McCain would be pushing it.