18 September 2008

Issues - McCain's grip on things!

We were watching a program on TV yesterday evening which had a commercial for an Alzheimer’s treatment. Maybe you’ve seen it. It’s a bit disquieting because it hits at that secret, unspoken level of fear shared by most of us, ”What if I lose my faculties?

You can’t experience the aging process without sometimes feeling it. “Anyone see where I put my keys...this time.” “What do you mean, I said the same thing half an hour ago.” And, my favorite, “Damn it, I know her name as well as my own, but just can’t recall it”.

It happens, and it is irrationally unsettling when it does. There’s a reason for it, and it really isn’t all that dire. The fact is that, as we age, we process things a bit differently, and, after all, we have more stored data to sift through than we did when we were thirty. And certainly, the keys and glasses get found—sometimes in the freezer, but found. And the forgotten name pops back in our head, sometimes waking us bolt upright at two AM, but the memory was there, and returned--tardy, but intact!

All part of the deal, and, we’ve always have heard that aging is not for sissies. Right?

But, in this drug commercial, the confusion was deeper and more frightening. A foursome of older people were at the bowling alley when one of the men realized his wife was missing. Shortly, she was returned by a couple of strangers saying, “We found her outside, she seemed confused”.

As I said, the commercial strums those chords of dread shared by all who sometimes put the keys in the refrigerator and the butter in the sock drawer.

I mention this; because I fear John McCain may be at the point that he is wandering about the bowling alley a bit confused. And, I want to say this; I am uncomfortable even suggesting it, because I so much resent the assumptive stereotypes older people encounter.

However, since he is going to be the only “older person” seeking the presidency, I am going to write of my concern.

Recently he gave a confused and confusing and more than slightly addled response to a Spanish reporter on whether or not he would meet with the Spanish Prime Minister. His answer was vague and made reference to Latin America and Mexico but had nothing at all to do with Spain. The poor reporter did her best to channel him back on target all but taking his hand and kindly saying, “But, I’m asking about Spain, you know, in Europe.” But, John was on a roll and made more Latin American and Hispanic references.

Then there are his self-contradictory, same-day utterances on the economy, where in the morning he told a crowd that the “fundamentals of the economy are strong”, and few hours later telling a different crowd the “fundamentals of our economy are at risk”. Then there is this non sequitur response to a question about Palin’s qualification to head up an initiative program for women, “She was the point guard on a female basketball team”.

The well being of his mental state is a legitimate concern. And, it is quite one thing for you and I to misplace our glasses periodically, or forget the name of "that movie star that was in the movie that was about explorers", and quite another to not understand that a question about meeting with the Prime Minister of Spain has naught to do with Latin America or to assert that playing basketball in high-school qualifies one to lead a national-level initiative program.

Most of us have attributed his “flip-flops” (fundamentally sound-fundamentally at risk) to mere political expedience. I mean, after all, that’s what politicians do, right? But, what if those flip-flops and self-contradictions are symptomatic?

What if John McCain has wandered away from the group he came in with and is roaming around the parking lot “confused”?

Shouldn’t we know? Shouldn’t we ask?

As an older person, it truly pains me to ask, but we have a right for concern, don't we?

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