Captain Kirk versus Jean-Luc Picard

I was thoroughly impressed with last night’s debate. As my gushing post last night attests. I’m not calling it a win for either candidate, as those voters who have made up their mind are likely to hold their position, and those who were undecided, probably still are. But there was something subtle, working in the background that is quite striking. The generational divide between John McCain and Barack Obama was fully visible. Not in their physical demeanor or in their language selections, but in their worldviews and their attempts to communicate them. I call it Captain Kirk versus Jean-Luc Picard. 

That’s not to say that Obama looked young and McCain looked old. McCain was quick-witted and fluid behind the podium, Obama was professiorial. Their styles mitigated their age gap in terms of presentation. But McCain’s discussion of the world, especially that outside of US borders was one of a man that has seen conflict. His convictions are dyed into his wool and he trusts his instincts in a way no other candidate this year has been able to articulate. He looks at Vladamir Putin and sees his Klingon enemy. He knows Putin is up to no good and he’ll do whatever it takes to stop him. John McCain will follow Bin Laden to the gates of hell himself if he has too, you can almost hear him yelling “KHAAAANNNNN!” on the way to Afghanistan.

The downside is McCain’s repeated assertion, which took on various tones: Obama doesn’t get it. He called Obam

a’s worldview not only naive but dangerous. This wasn’t spin, and as far as McCain was concerned, it wasn’t hyperbole. He looks at Obama and sees a dangerous young man too inexperienced and too naive to hold the title commander in chief. You could almost sense his frustration, at one point, as he exclaimed that his opponent, “doesn’t get it!” 

Obama for his part, played the part of learned man. And attempted to, I think successfully, counter McCain’s emotional moral convictions with cool-headed, sober, almost academic ones. This is a generational difference. He was our Jean-Luc Picard, the captain of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The NEXT Generation. Obama is cool, professorial, incredibly learned. The negotiator. Captain Kirk is one to floor it through and asteroid field, beam down to the planet in question and punch the bad guy in the face. Picard is one to go through the same asteroid field at 1/4 impulse power. Find the planet in peril, and call a meeting of his crew at the conference table to discuss options and assess the best plan going forward. Then using science and skilled negotiation, back their opponent into a corner and force him/her into submission. 

The thing is the last eight years have been way more Kirk than Picard here in the US. While I think McCain is way more capable than our dearly (almost) departed W, working from the gut isn’t gonna cut it for another 4 years. Dealing with problems by instinctively cutting taxes and intimidating rivals only works for so long. I think it’s time for a next generation style leader. We need to hand the reigns of the Enterprise over to our Captain Picard, and let a new style of leadership try its hand at the daunting problems we’re facing both home and abroad.


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