SARGE: The Lion Passes Into Shadow

Years ago, after I was discharged from the Navy and successfully found a position with a now defunct national retailer, I was privileged to be taught the art of sales through the use of truth, integrity and fact. Stuart, the retired Navy Chief Petty Officer (CPO) told me it was my job to sell the product. That meant I could use truth and fact to sell the integrity of the product and show I proffered integrity as a personal attribute the customer could count on. Stuart disliked “used car salesmen’s tactics” of subterfuge, selective omission of negative facts and outright misrepresentation to gain a commission on sales.

I took all of that to heart. And while there have been periods in my life where I displayed less than my full share of integrity, I can say I’m trying to get back to Stuart’s foundational lesson. The Senate presents a once respected, iconic figure noted for his former strength of character as his personal integrity wanes. The old lion dislikes politically pugnacious upstarts regularly showing him how far he’s fallen from the affections of his political base. He’s becoming toothless and as such irrelevant in the Pride.

Such is the fall from grace John McCain exhibits.

Lindsey Graham, his comrade in harm, wants notation as being the scion of conservative moderation. He stands beside McCain whispering his agreement into the deafening ear of the old lion while regularly, Graham, spins on his axis as the disheveled weasel he is and assents to more and more betrayals of conservatives’ values.

There are those in the blogosphere and others noted in commentary concerning McCain’s personal heroism and conduct while a prisoner in North Vietnam. This is wrong. One doesn’t suffer torture and battering after capture while standing up to a personal code of conduct hammered into you as a Plebe in the Naval Academy. It took integrity, courage and personal strength to survive all of that.

But then, after putting up with all of that, after the suffering and the pain and the years spent in recovery; McCain decided to enter politics as a life’s work. If ever two instances inhabited diametrically opposed positions on the integrity and reliability radians of human endeavor; battered war hero and political hack have be noted as such.

CPO Stuart explained it was a “no-no” to speak badly of your competition. It was akin to Henry Ford saying Chevrolets were trash and deserving of demolition because of differing production procedures. The complaints and arguments would be purely subjective and singularly flimsy because they’re based on personal beliefs having no substantive facts to back them up.

McCain was once described as a non-conformist rebel speaking dissident rants and rhetoric to get his point across. He rampantly spread his spore and marked his territory amongst the fecund fields of American politics in an effort to get things done. He didn’t yield. He cajoled, coaxed, enticed, inveigled, tantalized and attracted the attention of those he wanted to follow him. Then he led his own pride with the strength and integrity he showed formerly. McCain was the outsider causing trouble in lion prides with their aberrant behaviors.

But, now McCain doesn’t attack his opposition on the left side of the aisle. He, as a toothless and conspicuously diminishing individual, is trying to appear moderately relevant after losing pertinence years ago. He’s stopped violating CPO Stuart’s command to “speak no evil” of the competition.

He trashes his allies now from a selfish, self-centered basis because his ego’s hurt. He’s angry and upset because he’s not the center of attention. He’s another failed and fallen “once-was” trying desperately to not be forgotten. His once regal mane is matted and dirty and his roar has a sound more akin to an arthritic protest at having to try to so hard to be heard. He can’t even bask in the sunlit warmth of a retirement he feels he’s entitled to one day. He must always be on guard against attack from the yearlings he fears will take his place.

The passing of a lion’s majestic light into shadow is a troubling thing to watch.

Thanks for listening.



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