Let’s consider the following hypothetical. Your grandfather likes to smoke in his bed. He’s been told over and over again that it’s neither hygienic nor safe. But grandpa tends not to listen to anyone and does what he wants regardless of the potential consequences to either himself or those around him. One night, he falls asleep in bed after downing a six-pack of Rolling Rock, half-a-bag of Doritos and some Maalox. The stogie on which he’s been working for the past three hours is still lit as his hand falls to his side, simultaneously releasing said stogie along with the edge of Popular Mechanics Magazine, to which he has faithfully subscribed for the past four decades. The Stogie ignites the magazine, which plummets to the 70s era beige shag carpet. The room begins to fill with smoke. The alarm goes off and you rush into the room, rousing grandpa from his semi-comatose state and ushering him out of the tinderbox.
The fire spreads throughout the 4 bedroom split level with vexing rapidity, devouring any and everything in its path. By the time the fire department arrives on the scene, the fine china, Victorian era furniture and cherished signed copies of Rudy Giuliani’s book on leadership have been immolated. Additionally, the 56 year old Latvian day laborer you took on as a boarder last month, who was living in the spare bedroom recently vacated by your eldest son who is attending the University of North Dakota on a curling scholarship, is also toast.
As the firefighters valiantly battle the raging inferno, which threatens to spread to neighboring abodes, grandpa remembers back to the Great Cucamonga Fire of nineteen-ought-six when they used corn meal, molasses and rhubarb to squelch the conflagration. As it happens, the local fire department is holding a bake sale featuring pies, cakes and pastries, the constituent parts of which are – you guessed it – corn meal, molasses and rhubarb. The firemen apply the baked goods to the fire, reducing the once formidable enemy to a mere smoldering heap of remembrances.
As you survey the carnage inflicted by an old man’s refusal to heed the sound advice you had repeatedly offered, grandpa shakes his fist triumphantly and boldly asserts that his confectionary strategy was an unmitigated success. As he delights in his pyrrhic victory, you reckon that his joy should be tempered by the simple fact that this tragic turn of events would never have happened in the first place but for his act of unbridled stupidity. Yes, he helped put out the fire that he started. Yet the undeniable facts remain that not only did he cause the promethean eruption, but that his actions decimated the familial homestead, sent an unsuspecting Eastern European immigrant to prematurely meet his maker and left you holding the bag for $5,678.49 worth of baked goods. Does this in any way diminish grandpa’s zeal over his daring gambit that turned the tide? Hell no. He’s a terminally self-absorbed old coot whose only concern is that he was right about a course of action that never should have had to have been made in the first place.
If this sounds familiar to you, it should. The above scenario is strikingly analogous to John McCain’s fervor over the surge that he championed in Iraq. At best, the surge