Go Gallantly into Defeat my Boys

‘My center is giving way. My right is in retreat. Situation excellent. I attack!’

So said General Ferdinand Foch of France to his commanding general, Joseph Joffre, according to William Kristol. So said one of Napoleon’s generals, according to Peter Roebuck. Both used the quote on the same day, coincidentally. Roebuck is wrong on the attribution but possibly correct in his advice to the Australian cricket team. When you’re on foreign pitches with a meagre bowling attack and a patchy batting order, there is little to be gained by battening down the hatches. Besides, it’s boring.

Be gallant in defeat they might as well say, though not nearly as much hangs on the result of a tour of India as on next Tuesday’s election. Kristol, who co-founded the Project for a New American Century, has not yet abandoned the good ship McCain and is one of the few ‘conservative’ pundits to still consider Sarah Palin an asset. He remains steadfastly, eerily, optimistic, insisting that one of McCain’s main weapons is that the US is finally winning the war in Iraq (an adventure, it must be said, for which Kristol was an aggressive advocate).

Suggesting that McCain and Palin should take over the campaign, Kristol advises: ‘then (they) can spend the final week speaking for themselves. They should throw themselves open full time to the media. Could the press coverage get worse?’ I’m afraid it could, William. Putting Sarah Palin full time in front of a camera at this time is the cricketing equivalent of commencing the fourth innings against the West Indies (of yore) on the last day with 400 to win and sending out Glenn McGrath and the team mascot, assuming it were a bunny as well.

The pendulum has swung so far in Obama’s favour, however, that McCain’s fate on November 4 is already sealed. All that’s in doubt is the extent of the rout. McCain, whose policy proclivities have veered wildly during the campaign, can preserve some of his dignity, and could possibly save the party from long-term demoralisation, but probably not both at once. Palin can retire to Alaska where they must be having serious doubts about her capacity to govern right now. And Kristol, his New American Century now consigned to histories of disastrous imperial overshoot, well, who gives a toss?

Speaking of which, make sure you win the toss, Ponting, and give the cherry a good smack will you old boy.

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