Col. John Boyd was an ace fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. He fought in Korea and Vietnam, helped design F-15 and F-16 jet fighters, and is revered within military circles as a strategist who conceived an entirely new way of conducting war or doing business.
Robert Coram’s biography of Boyd is a riveting story of an eccentric genius breaking new frontiers in a discipline and profession far removed from concerns of the general public. Even a passing acquaintance with the late John Boyd would help in knowing how Sen. John McCain has overcome political odds against him.
Boyd developed the concept known as OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop in decision making and performance in a fast-paced, changing environment. The ingenuity of OODA loop is the formula for rapid assessment and response to events or opponents in gaining advantage in dynamic situations.
This ability to assess and outpace opponents has been a key factor in McCain’s progress as a politician not ideologically stuck to partisan politics, and being readily open in adapting to new information.
McCain saw ahead of most in Washington the urgency of increased military deployment in Iraq to break the back of the al-Qaida-driven insurgency and secure the hard-won freedom for Iraqis.
He argued for the surge and defended it when the Democratic leadership in Congress was invested in defeat, and opponents of the surge were pushing a cut-and-run policy as did Sen. Joe Biden with his defeatist ideas for engineering tripartite partitioning of Iraq.
The success of the surge has made likely an early redeployment of American troops, and driven the Iraq story from the front pages of the mainstream media. It also placed McCain ahead of his Republican opponents – “I’d rather lose an election than lose a war” became McCain’s signature response on his support for the surge – in the primary season when most pundits had written him off.
Similarly, McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate is a fine demonstration of an OODA loop decision messing up the Democrat’s campaign, built on the phony slogan for “change.” Palin strikes the near-perfect note of a “change” candidate headed for dysfunctional Washington, whose poster face is the six-term senator and capitol insider Biden.
Palin’s contrast with Sen. Barack Obama as an outsider is moreover devastatingly sharp and clean.
The Democratic presidential nominee is a product of Chicago’s steamy politics of race, while the Republican vice-presidential nominee is fresh as the Arctic wind blowing away the partisan politics of those who ran Alaska as a corrupt Republican fiefdom.
Since energy replaced Iraq as the primary concern of American voters over the summer, Palin brings a resume of governing an energy-rich Alaska that the Democratic ticket cannot match.
Any suggestion of Palin’s inexperience highlights not only Obama’s inexperience at the top of the Democratic ticket but the unnerving question about his long association with folks soaked in anti-American politics.
Middle America – patriotic and religious – is now energized by a very talented and feisty pro-life mother on the Republican ticket. And somewhere Boyd’s spirit is grinning as McCain, fighter pilot and mirthful maverick of American politics, executes with agility the tightest OODA loop confounding Democrats and their cheering section in the mainstream media.