John McCain goes west

Just a little souvenir wisenheimery from the bad old days.

You’re going to see some relentless hagiography about John McCain from the national press for the better part of quite some time.

That’s the audience he played to, after all.

For a different perspective, check out Amy Silverman’s piece in the Phoenix New Times. Silverman, who covered McCain in the 1990s, calls him “one of the most fascinating politicians in history,” and a few other things, too.

I saw him mostly as a ruthless opportunist, a tireless self-promoter, focused on John McCain the Brand®. You could dig down into what seemed on the surface to be some statesmanly act and see the real McCain down there, smirking and rubbing his hands together. He recalled President Eisenhower’s secretary of defense, Charles Erwin Wilson, who famously told the Senate Committee on Armed Services: “For years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist.”

Substitute “John McCain” for “General Motors” and you’ll see what I mean.

Like George W. Bush he achieved high office thanks in part to a famous name, unearned wealth and a pugnacious ignorance that some mistook for straight shooting. Unlike Dubya, McCain was a sure-enough tough guy. But both suffered from the delusion that their guts held all the answers they’d ever need.

Hammers in search of nails, they teamed up to bring us the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which continue to rack up bills and body counts. For an up-close-and-personal look at the latter, see Pulitzer-winner C.J. Chivers and his excellent book, “The Fighters: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Remember “that old Beach Boys song? ‘Bomb Iran?'” You can be sure the Iranians do. As do more than a few American pilots who already had plenty on their plates, I imagine.

Here’s another lame joke that happily fell flat: For his last presidential bid, in 2008, McCain scraped the bottom of the Republican barrel and came up with running mate Caribou Barbie, in a stroke legitimizing the Tinfoil Beanie Brigade. Some think this is the shove that sent the Republic on its drunken stagger toward Il Douche, but we’ve always leaned in that direction and it was only a matter of time before we finally got there.

When you hear all the sermons about McCain’s selfless devotion to country, remember what he was willing to do to win the presidency. He would have sacrificed us all on the altar of his own ambition.

• Editor’s note: Charlie Pierce, who had a much closer look at McCain than I did, recalls a man he liked and admired, while adding that he “was destined, always, to disappoint me politically, but that was only because we didn’t agree on anything.”


17 Responses to “John McCain goes west”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    McCain’s worst mistake was giving us Caribou Barbie and as you say, legitimizing not only the tinfoil hat brigade but the Tea Party bozos. I could live with a lot of the rest. After all, that’s why people go into politics–shameless self promotion and narcissism.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    He had family and friends at his side in his final days, and they will also be at his funeral. I suspect the current occupant of the people’s house will die alone. The Iraq and Vietnam war ware alike, caused by arrogance and short term thinking. Worthless wars, just like the endless Afghanistan fiasco. I thought he should have known that better than anyone else.

  3. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    I’ll never understand why a POW like McCain was seemingly always eager to feed the next generation into the war machine. Hard to celebrate the few times he stood up for what was right when compared to how many times he went along for the ride or worse, was a cheerleader for things that were wrong. And then there’s Princess Dumbass of the North…
    What kind of AZ wingnut will replace him now?

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Pray that it is not Kelli Ward, queen of the AZ wing nuts and lover of all things Dumpster. If she gets beat in the primary for Flake’s seat, then she will be in Phoenix begging for the nod to replace McCain.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        “All things Dumpster” I like that. An Iowan the other day told me they’d tuned out the news since “the President’s in trouble”. I asked if she’d been old enough to remember Nixon? Just a child back then, so no, but she goes on to say “But Trump’s done some good things” to which I reply, “Really? Can you name one?” which ended the conversation.
        Seems these folks are not so eager to describe what I can only assume are their racist/xenophobic tendencies, since they are not in the 1% who gained from the Rethug tax cuts or owners of coal mines. What else could it be?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        There’s already talk about shoehorning McCain’s widow into the gig. Remember when we chose to separate ourselves from an empire with a hereditary aristocracy? Seems a long time ago.

  4. Libby Says:

    Welcome and sobering thoughts and no prayers. Thanks, Patrick.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Aw, it’s just me flapping my digital gums again, Libby. I keep hoping we’ll glean some wisdom from our mistakes, which highlights my own failure to learn from history.

      • Libby Says:

        I subscribe to WaPo and it is littered with the hagiography of McCain you cite above. We are also stuck with the narrative of “this Rethug is not so bad compared to” the POSPOTUS and his toadies. Of course, it was so pathetic that the POSPOTUS mocked a former POW for being caught.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        The NYT is likewise. Six stories “above the fold” on the homepage as of 7:30 p.m. Sunday. It’s gonna be a long week.

  5. gary burnette Says:

    “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time…” Wait! All of them all of the time? God, the drop in the national IQ has really got me down…

  6. jaf48 Says:

    It will be interesting to see how well Solyent Blonde can milk this for higher placement in the Village Drum Circle.

  7. Carl Duellman Says:

    this was a pretty good article from back in the day from david foster wallace

  8. Dale Says:

    I never cared much for McCain’s policy stances, but I will grant that he rose to the occasion on a couple of issues. I loved his “thumb down” vote on the ACA repeal; but it may have been more out of spite to Orange Hitler than to support for health care.

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