Madison, WI (OpEdNews) – September 5, 2008 – The Republican Party is about to nominate the most unqualified candidate for the Presidency in our history, with the possible exception of George W. Bush. Over his entire lifespan, he has repeatedly shown that he is out of touch with reality, impulsive and reckless in his judgment, and intellectually lazy and lacking in curiosity.

You already know that he thinks you have to make $5,000,000 a year in income to be rich. How out of touch with reality is that? You already know he can’t remember how many houses he and his wife own. How truly bizarre is that? He suggested that his wife should enter the “Miss Buffalo Chip” contest, a lewd affair that includes a topless competition. Did he have any idea what he was talking about? Did he even care?

He appears to be a man who has been successful with women and uses them. He not only offered Cindy to score points at that biker’s rally but sent her off to the Republic of Georgia in a crass political stunt. According to the Associated Press, “He’s Never Taken the Smooth Path”, Wisconsin State Journal (August 31, 2008), in his personal life, John McCain has displayed a preference for beautiful women, especially for models and beauty queens. He married a beautiful divorcee, Carol Shepp, adopted the former model’s two children and had a daughter with her.

McCain has blamed the failure to his first marriage on his own selfishness and immaturity. One month after divorcing his first wife, he married Cindy Hensley, 17 years his junior. A cheerleader at USC, they both say that he lied about his age by taking off four years and she by adding four to hers. Even though she has half-siblings, she refers to herself as an “only child” and suppresses their existence. She seems to be a woman who puts appearance before reality.

According to the AP, “McCain was lucky. Carol McCain, who had been in a crippling car accident while her husband was imprisoned in Vietnam, let him out of the marriage without theatrics or recriminations.” Cindy, after all, was “the other woman.” If the Christian Right cares about family values—really cares about them rather than talking about them with it is politically expedient—how many commandments has McCain violated here?

He was equally “lucky” in his professional life. Finishing near the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, he described his experience as a “four year course of insubordination and rebellion”. Calling himself a “maverick” appears to be his way to disguise arrogance and immaturity. Given his own military history, does he even have the self-discipline to subordinate himself to the authority of the U.S. Constitution?

There are reasons to wonder. According to the AP, before he was shot down over Vietnam, he had already crashed a plane into Corpus Christi Bay, ejected from another jet that flamed out as he was flying solo, and knocked down power lines while flying too low in Southern Spain. Most stunning of all, he had survived an explosion aboard the USS Forrestal that left 134 dead.

According to Wayne Madsen, an investigative journalist, “it is believed by many crewmen and those who have investigated the case that McCain deliberately ‘wet started’ his A-4E to shake up the guy in the plane behind him, . . .”—as a practical joke, in other words—“[which] apparently ‘cooked off’ and launched a Zuni rocket from the rear F-4 that touched off the explosions and massive fire” that killed 134. “He was quickly transferred to the USS Oriskany,” to avoid being assaulted by his shipmates. That would have been 134 counts of manslaughter.

I am a former commissioned officer in the Marine Corps. Anyone with a military background can confirm that, given his history of repeated screw-ups, McCain should have been removed from flight status and subjected to courts-martial. Had that been done, 134 lives might have been spared. I believe that did not happen only because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals and he was receiving preferential treatment.

Such success as McCain has enjoyed appears to have been based upon 5 ½ years as a POW, who was tortured by the North Vietnamese, a story which he tells at the drop of a hat, with a disarming demeanor. But there appears to be a hidden story here. What would 5 ½ years of torture by the North Vietnamese do to you or me? If the experience was as horrendous as he suggests, then surely it has to have left profound emotional and mental scars, an issue that has arisen in other cases.

In 1999, the McCain campaign—engaged in a contest with George W. Bush—released 1,500 pages of medical reports, which included a great deal about his mental health. They were open to public inspection. This time around, however, the campaign hesitated and delayed their release. When it finally happened, they restricted access to a few selected reporters. One of them, Sanjay Gupta of CBS NEWS, observed that there was very little—almost nothing—about his psychological state. Something is wrong and, for the good of the country, the press needs to pursue this issue.

It may not be Alzheimer’s, but if John McCain is suffering from other serious mental problems, the American people are entitled to know. When he sang about bombing Iran—“Bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb boom Iran”—to the tune of The Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann”, that should have set off alarm bells with the national press. It has to be investigated.

Past indications of his reckless judgment have been reinforced by his choice of a transparently unqualified running mate, Sarah Palin, another beauty queen. He married a trophy wife and has now selected a trophy nominee to run with him. She is pro-life, even in the case of rape and incest, and supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

She belongs to the NRA and favors teaching creationism in the public schools. The problem is that creationism is not science and has no place in the science curriculum, as I explained in my latest book, RENDER UNTO DARWN. We need to get religion out of public schools, not put more in!

She is the governor of a large state with a small population, the former mayor of a hamlet, and—we are told—a member of the PTA. She received 115,000 votes during her election as Alaska’s governor, not many more than Barack Obama drew to his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium. The typical member of the House has more constituents.

So this 72-year old man with a history of cancer is putting an anti-environmental, anti-choice, creationist zealot—who has so little respect for other women that she does not trust them to choose for themselves about the most private matters!—just a heartbeat away from the Presidency of a nation with a population of some 300,000,000! How responsible is that?

With five children, one of whom is still an infant, her greatest area of expertise may be changing diapers. So if this is the kind of change McCain is talking about, she’s a great choice! It all depends. The right to decide to bear or not to bear children is surely as crucial a right as the right to bear arms! How can she be so disrespectful of other women?

No one can take seriously the idea that she is qualified to be the President of the United States. As Tom Brokaw asked on Sunday, does she know as much about economics as Mitt Romney? As much about terrorism as Tom Ridge? Or as much about foreign affairs as Joe Lieberman? The claim that she is “the best qualified” is a grotesque joke!

The idea that she is as qualified as Obama is even more ridiculous. He edited the Harvard Law Review. She studied sports journalism. He is a legislator, a Senator, a Constitutional scholar. He has also undergone 20 months of grueling campaigns, survived dozens of debates with very highly qualified opponents, and endured endless one-on-one interviews. He has been thoroughly vetted and prevailed thorough the democratic election process. She has not.

Not only that, but when it came to the first test of a future president’s judgment, Obama picked a man with decades of foreign policy experience. McCain chose a woman with none. His wife even defended her against the charge that she lacks foreign policy experience by observing that Russia and Alaska are in close geographical proximity!

The idea that women who supported Hillary will flock to McCain because of this choice boggles the mind. He emphasized himself that the crucial test of a vice presidential pick is that that person should be prepared to assume the presidency. If this was the test—and it is the right standard—then he fails by his own criterion. He is still doing poorly on tests!

When you stop to think, politically there is nothing “new” about her. She stands for more drilling; less regulation; reducing taxes, including for the rich; right-wing judges, especially on the Supreme Court; oil-oil-oil as the world’s most precious commodity; privatizing education through charter schools and home schooling; and other all-too-familiar positions. So what’s “new”? It all comes in a most attractive package, exuding charms that John McCain appears to appreciate.

Indeed, he barely knows her himself. He met her once a while back, spoke with her on the phone, and flew her in for another conversation before announcing his choice. We are going to learn far more about her now than McCain knew when he chose her. This selection, in a microcosm, stunningly illustrates how out of touch he is with reality, his impulsive and reckless judgment, his intellectual laziness and lack of curiosity.

These very considerations, moreover, have been strongly reinforced by McCain’s past-oriented acceptance speech. As Mother Jones has observed, he made 43 references to his 5 ½ years as a prisoner of war around forty years ago, only 8 to his 25 years in the House and the Senate. The GOP theme has clearly emerged: “POW equals patriotic hero equals a fighting president.” The slogan is as simple-minded as it is false.

McCain appears to sincerely believe that his experience decades ago entitles him to the nation’s highest office. How out of touch is that? Declaring he had fought for the country before—and had suffered—he will fight for it again: “I have the record and the scars to prove it,” he declared. “Senator Obama does not.” But those very scars may be among the most important reasons why John McCain is profoundly unqualified to serve as Commander-in-Chief of our country.

Jim Fetzer is McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.