Tuesday, May 20, 2008
There is an interesting article posted over at Slate that touches on John McCain's role in forcing television manufacturers to plunge into digital technology before the market warranted and how this might lead to his own political undoing.
For all I know, McCain is in fine physical condition. If he appears older than his chronological age, that probably has something to do with the torture he endured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam; nine years ago the Arizona Republic reported that he continued to experience "orthopedic limitations" related to his imprisonment, including pain in his shoulders and right knee. But TV is unfair, as Richard Nixon learned when his perspiration and five o'clock shadow helped give John F. Kennedy the edge in the first-ever televised presidential debates. Had HDTV been available eight years later, I'm not sure Nixon could have won the Republican nomination, let alone the presidency.Only Hillary Clinton prevailing over Obama might keep us from the cold comfort of seeing, perhaps, McCain being killed by the monster he helped create. The man who so despises freedom of speech as to hinder it during elections would lose in part on appearances (not that his ideas have any merit or substantive difference from Obama's). The man who could not leave the world's most innovative and productive economy alone would succumb due to the very results of his meddling. The man who so likes giving out orders would be foiled by an army of too-obedient machines.
The prevailing cliche about 2008 is that it's the first YouTube election. But it may turn out to be, more saliently, the first high-definition election. If that's the case, then McCain -- more precisely, McCain's political ambition -- may play the unfortunate role of Dr. Frankenstein, whose lifeless body at the end of Mary Shelley's novel is wept over by the demon he created. ... But doesn't Obama look fabulous? [links dropped]
This would be mere poetic justice -- the only kind available in this year's elections. This result cannot head off tyranny, for these candidates are fundamentally the same despite appearances. But in terms of America's long-term future, perhaps technology and McCain's inopportune power lust might be the kind of break we can take advantage of.
It will only be by using every break we get to make the case for individual rights -- and yet not depending on dumb luck -- that we who value freedom can stop the advance of tyranny.