Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Man Who Never Was

Todd Purdom has a bio-article on John McCain in Vanity Fair this month. I kind of like these articles that focus on a particular personality, Vanity Fair recently had one on Sarah Palin, the New York Times Magazine had one on Glenn Beck.

Its a good read, the underlying thesis being that John McCain was never really a maverick but rather pragmatic (I agree) and that he doesnt really have any principles (I agree) which is a contrast to the narrative that he had principles but sold them out for 2008 and beyond.

Purdom recounts McCain's asinine "suspension" of his campaign in 2008, with some assitance from Johnathan Alter's recent book

McCain’s stagy “suspension” of his 2008 campaign to return to Washington to deal with the Wall Street financial crisis is a classic case in point. As related in Jonathan Alter’s book The Promise, at a bipartisan White House meeting—called solely because McCain had asked the Bush administration to hold it—he sat sullen and silent, saying “I’ll just listen” as Obama showed a detailed command of the situation. When he finally spoke, 43 minutes into the meeting, McCain acknowledged that he had not even read the Treasury secretary’s three-page outline of a proposed bank-bailout plan.

There is also a though experiment that I had never considered, in lieu of my anger and frustration with the Obama Administration and Senate Democrats:

There would probably have been no stimulus bill, and the country’s economic condition would be no better (and probably worse). General Motors and Chrysler would have been allowed to go bankrupt rather than helped to emerge into a state of healthiness, as they may well be doing. There would have been no significant new regulation of the financial industry. The Bush tax cuts for those Americans with the highest incomes—something McCain had opposed before reversing himself—would have been extended. There would have been only modest health-insurance reform, at best—McCain’s proposals were Republican boilerplate and meant for use in the campaign, never a serious program. Perhaps there would have been greater progress on immigration, though McCain had already abandoned that issue, and it’s easier to imagine his taking the more nativist stance he has since adopted. There would be no Supreme Court justices Kagan and Sotomayor, but there would likely be two more conservative justices, and the days of Roe v. Wade would be numbered. There would be no troop drawdown in Iraq. The United States might well have bombed or blockaded Iran in response to that country’s flawed election last year, or in response to its nuclear program. There would have been serial feuds between aides to the president and vice president, but the fact that Vice President Palin had an independent power base, far larger and more enthusiastic than McCain’s own, would have limited what President McCain could do about it.

I have never really had respect for John McCain, I think his maverick mantle was a media invention. He has always been a conservative republican and just took one or two stances that 20 years ago would have not garnered any attention (the Republican Party used to be filled with moderate and liberal Republicans, now there are zero.)

Furthermore I never understood the media's contention that his captivity during Vietnam made him an expert on foreign policy. With due respect, fighting in a war doesn't make you a foreign policy expert. It gives you insight, surely, that someone who has never been in battle cannot have. And fighting in a war is very brave and I commend him for that. But going off to bomb North Vietnam, getting shot down and held in captivity for five years does not give you credentials to opine expertise on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Lastly I think I got nothing but disgust and disdain for McCain in the 2008 re-election. Its not that he sold out this great integrity he had previously, its that he just really sold out any integrity any decent human being would have at a minimal standard. Insinuating Obama was a terrorist, via your Palin-proxy, the campaign suspension, the campaign rallies where people would chant "Kill him". McCain fanned the racial flames that feigned hurt when John Lewis called him out on it. Well if it walks like a duck, its John McCain.

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