Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Brain Fog of War

"The only honest answer is to state that try as I might, I cannot recall anything whatsoever about whether I approved an Israeli sale in advance or whether I approved replenishment of Israeli stocks around August of 1985. My answer therefore and the simple truth is, 'I don't remember'."

So spoke President Reagan during the Tower Commission's investigation into the Iran-Contra arms deals. At the time we assumed that President Reagan was lying, however with more time it was revealed that President Reagan was already on the slow decline into the fog of Alzheimer's disease at the time of the hearings, so it is entirely likely that at age 75 he truly could not remember making such a significant decision even though it had taken place only a year earlier.

A few days ago it was revealed that 1 in 5 citizens above the age of 70 experience mental difficulties ranging from simple "brain fog" to full-on symptoms of Alzheimer's. Perhaps this was the problem for elder statesman and presidential candidate John McCain when he stated that it is well known that Iran is training Al Qaida extremists and then sending them to Iraq, when of course Al Qaida is a Sunni group and the Iranians are Shiite.

A simple slip of the tongue, perhaps... but he also made the same mistake on the Hugh Hewitt radio show the day before.

This complicated Iraq War with all its competing religious and political factions - it must be confusing for a tired old man who endured such terrible trauma as a prisoner of war more than 40 years ago! How much mental fog will John McCain be suffering from if he takes office at age 72 as the oldest president in the history of the nation, or at age 76 at the end of his first term?

My own grandfather is also a tough old man. He grew up from a life in an orphanage, where my Great Grandfather had placed in order to more fully develop his career as a "rummy". He learned to weld in the Navy during World War II and built the first of a lifetime of careers and interests that also included owner of two pet stores, employee of the State of Connecticut, rider of Indian motorcycles, organ player, fisherman, skin diver and, most recently, prolific gardener.

World War II also delivered my Grandfather to my Grandmother - they met at a USO dance. He built the house they lived in up until they retired to Georgia, including digging the basement by hand. A lifelong athlete, he has had two events named after him, a footrace in Connecticut and a tennis tournament in Rabun County, Georgia.

But its been quite a few years now since my Grandpa has been let anywhere near the keys to his truck, as his short term memory is completely gone due to a series of micro-strokes that were invisible at the beginning. He's still strong as an ox... Not long ago he had to be recovered by the police after he walked approximately 15 miles from his house to the nearest town - with no idea where he was or how to get back.

Those years add up on even the toughest men and women, and practically every one of us has looked into our own families and circles of friends and come to the heartbreaking realization that this uncle or that old friend really is no longer the person we remember so fondly from earlier days. For all of us who manage to dodge the accidents, coronaries and other early misfortunes, a slow decline in faculties is the reality that each of us faces. For John McCain and the rest of us, the question is simply:

How bad will it be?

How soon will it happen?

This is above and beyond the fact that the presidency takes 20 years off a man. Look what's happened to W! I think its pretty clear that a certain Sith apprentice has been playing around with the Dark Side lightening while Lord Cheney was not around to supervise!

Is John McCain ready for the strain of a presidency in which he'll be expected to heal a nation devastated by a sagging economy, an energy crisis and a collapsing dollar, while also presiding over an unwinnable war that is costing us $5,000 a second?

No comments: