The Cynicism and Contempt of John McCain
Or, Get Your Hot-Buttered Popcorn It’s Film References Time!
“It is dangerous for a democracy when a presidential candidate can lie with impunity, change positions on a whim, and physically and verbally threaten others and virtually none of it is reported by a besotted media eagerly awaiting the next moment when he might slap their backs in friendship.”
— Cliff Schecter, author of “The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don’t Trust Him And Why Independents Shouldn’t,” as quoted by Robert Greenwald at AlterNet.org.
While our corporate Stay-Prest Media obsess over every detail of the Dem Party High Noon confrontation between Sen. Serial Mom (‘Annie Oakley Meets Rocky and the Amazon Woman on the Moon,’ as directed by David Lynch) and ‘The Golden Child’ (‘Native Son Goes to Washington,’ as written by Clifford Odets and starring Sidney Poitier as both Langston Hughes and ‘Mr. Tibbs’), they’ve mostly been ignoring the flip, flop and flee of the sometime rustic-ranch resident of Sedona, Arizona, the former Hellcat of the Navy lurking under the fading Republican brand, ‘John McCain Goes to War’ (as directed by Sam Fuller-Brush-Man).
Weve seen this movie before; it was shown to the bored passengers of Kentucky Fried Airlines on flights to Political Tedium in 1980, 1988, 1996, and even, improbably, 2000 and 2004. While, according to the Big Media Handbook, a Democrat can never be a War Hero, even though he may have piloted a bomber over Europe in WWII, as George McGovern did; or saved a soldier’s life under fire, as John Kerry did; it’s ridiculously easy for any Republican to claim the status.
Although Navy Carrier Pilot Poppy Bush and the 10th Mountain Division’s Bob Dole could legitimately honk up their time in service, Army Lt. Ronald Reagan made venereal disease warnings for the military and fought The Good War from the satin-sheeted trenches of Hollywood; Air Force Lt. Junior Bush committed the ignoble offense of posing for pictures in uniform wearing medals he hadn’t earned and then ditched out entirely on his last two years of weekend-warrior physicals and stateside Champaign Squadron duty, a stunt that would have quickly deposited a poor man’s son on the flight line at an airfield near Saigon or a SAC base in Witch’s Tit, Alaska. Yet they were both, at one time or another, dubbed ‘War Heroes’ by the National Corporate Media.
John McCain can trumpet his combat time in the Navy with some validity, although the third reel of this picture shows Sen. Rambo unheroically, if understandably, breaking under North Vietnamese torture and singing his guts out, as he admitted on CBS’ “60 Minutes” nearly a decade ago. But never fear, Republicans — Democrats will not be mocking him by hopping around on jocular Ruptured Duck crutches, nor wearing ‘Traitor John’ arm slings or yellow songbirds on their shoulders at their Denver convention this year that sort of stomach-turning street theater is strictly reserved for the degenerate Swift Boat ignorati of the GOP Fleet Enema.
Keeping with Orson Welles’ protagonist in his 1941 masterpiece “Citizen Kane,” the Arizona senator tries to portray himself as a stalwart Man of the People, a plain-spoken Maverick Reformer you can safely imbibe a Blue Collar beer with, a Harry S Truman in Republican armor out to slay the dragons of official corruption, political partisanship and perverse moral concupiscence in Washington, while carefully disguising his elite Admiral’s-boy, Annapolis-grad past; his second wife’s wealth that purchased his political career; and his cynical behind-the-scenes manipulations on behalf of campaign contributors from Charles Keating to Paxson Communications. Only recently has the Big Media noticed that he has a flock of well-paid lobbyists on his staff and the Punditrocracy apparently naively believe, as stated by political flack-turned-journalist George Stephanopoulos on his This Week program May 25, that they have now all been dismissed. The truth is, if McCain fired all of the lobbyists and ex-lobbyists on his campaign staff, he wouldn’t have any campaign staff left. It seems it will fall to the eventual Democratic candidate to point out that from McCain campaign chief Rick Davis on down, the Republican candidate’s advisors are the sort of slick-suited marketers who will gladly advertise the ‘good side’ of tyrannical and genocidal regimes, or without reservation brush up the public image of businesses that peddle toxic poisons or tainted foodstuffs to the peasantry, if the price is right. They are direct ideological descendants of Edward Bernays, figuratively sticking shiny new dimes in the palms of monsters for distribution to the public, hoping to distract the happy recipients from noticing he is getting innocent people killed in an endless war for cost-plus profit or cruelly evicting families from their homes.
It’s illustrative of the true McCain personality to closely investigate several recent blips on his Maverick Reformer War Hero radar:
First there was Mr. Support The Troops’ refusal to vote on the new GI Bill, allegedly because he didn’t want active duty soldiers and sailors to take advantage of improved educational benefits and resign from the military to better themselves, as McCain himself did some 35 years ago. When McCain was mildly confronted with his contradictions by Barack Obama, the ex-fighter pilot deployed chaff to divert this heat-seeking missile he blustered that he wouldn’t take any lectures from someone who had never served in uniform on his deep and heartfelt commitment to the military. Uh huh, but that still leaves the unanswered question of why McCain didn’t support this bill, which gained the approval of every major veteran’s group in the country. Only he and his BFF Junior seemed to be ardently against it the Son of Bush because, hilariously, he didn’t think the troops needed a raise in pay. (I guess future surprise drop-in visits to Baghdad are out for the present Commander-in-Chief, unless he is cordoned off by Blackwater mercenaries from his own forces.) It fortunately passed anyway, and by numbers large enough to forestall a promised presidential veto. (Where is the Fox News outrage: Why do Resident Bush and Johnny Mac hate our troops?)
Then there was McCain’s preacher problem. In a cheapjack campaign hat-tip to loopy-right Christopublicans, McCain trolled for the endorsements of such ecumenical feather-dusters as TV evangelists Rod Parsely and John Hagee, the former a holy-roller who has interpreted the ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ words of the New Testament as a call to destroy Islam, and the latter another candidate for institutional care who wants the US to ignite Armageddon in the Middle East so that his God of War will return to kill all the Jews who refuse to believe his delusion of Jesus is the Messiah. Hagee has also peddled the notion that the Catholic Church is a greater whore than his own, and that the Almighty flooded New Orleans, killing innocent children and practicing heterosexuals, because He was miffed that some of the residents were planning a gay pride parade. Left out of Hagee’s bereft-of-logic mentality is why his God over the years would also visit natural disasters on such pious GOP areas as rural counties in Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, and the Christian communities of the Florida panhandle, the Mississippi delta, Republican Sen. Trent Lott’s house, and even the Virginia home of his Christian broadcasting cousin, Pat Robertson. (Well, okay, perhaps Hagee prayed for that last one to rid himself of the competition.)
Even after this parsimonious pi𠲀 of nutballery was cracked open, McCain smilingly continued to accept the endorsements of Hagee and Parsely, while deploring those things that might offend the sane, until it was discovered that Hagee had uttered two magic words in one sentence — ‘Hitler’ and ‘Jews’ — and claimed the Jewish Diaspora, minus the six million dead in the Holocaust, were actually better off, since it resulted in them returning to their Biblical homeland and fulfilling a tenet of his crackpot End Times theory. Even McCain, with friendly media wind billowing his sails, couldn’t dodge this torpedo, so he unceremoniously dumped both Hagee and Parsely from his campaign bandwagon.
Curious, though, was McCain’s excuse. He claimed he wasn’t a regular congregant of either pastor, and was therefore unaware of their more extreme views, so accepting their endorsements wasn’t as bad as Obama sitting in Rev. Wright’s church every Sunday for twenty years. As usual, McCain was a little askew in his facts Obama wasn’t in Wright’s Trinity UCC Church every Sunday for twenty years for about ten of those years, including during the notorious ‘God damn America’ sermon, Obama was either in Springfield, Illinois, or Washington, DC, working as an elected official. Also, the notion that McCain doesn’t bother to check out those he receives endorsements from should give pause to voters if a KKK branch dressed itself up with the name Christians for a Common Purpose, while retaining their blatant racism and costumes from the Pointy White Hat haberdashery, would McCain accept their support without bothering to have one of his lobbyist staff run the name through a computer? Even more disturbing is the idea that McCain’s staff did investigate the backgrounds of the two preachers he just jettisoned and either didn’t disagree with or didn’t care about what they found.
Most of all, this blunder clearly shows that McCain just cynically trolled for the endorsements of these two deranged pastors to bolster his low standing among evangelicals, regardless of what insanity they preached. This is the raw ambitious cynicism of the man laid bare a cynicism that should trouble anyone thinking of voting for him.
Then there’s McCain’s surreal tap dance of railing against the size and expense of the government, our economic downturn, our foreign indebtedness, and the past failures of the Iraq War without once mentioning the ultimate authors of all that misery his huggable friend George W. Bush and the Republican Party. So far, thanks to the supine coverage of his good corporate-media pals on the bus, panting for their pat on the head, McCain has managed to get away with this double-talk, but does he really think he can keep that up for the next five months without the public making the appropriate mental connection?
Those of us who have paid attention to McCain’s campaign beyond the superficial sound bites of the National Media Infotainment Machine already know that McCain’s a poor stump-speech campaigner and his ever-shifting ‘conservative message’ doesn’t resound with voters the crowds at McCain events tend to be either bright-eyed GOP hacks or the idly curious, and the applause is often tepid to the point of embarrassment.
The man is obviously uncomfortable in his own skin as he tries to sell voters on increasing an unpopular war; as he hunches over and promises further tax cuts to people losing their jobs and homes; as he blinkingly proposes ludicrously insufficient rebates to the uninsured and seriously ill to help defray exploding medical costs; as he blusters pompously about his foreign policy experience that includes plotting a madman’s attack on Iran and a profound inability to keep the Sunni and Shia in Iraq separate; as he seeks to hide from the cameras when Dubya arrives to raise more money for his doomed campaign.
All of the repeated Big Media encapsulations of McCain’s character are proving to be grossly false: He is only a ‘straight-talker’ if you consider making a series of hard-right turns, and then quickly reversing course when necessary, as traveling in a straight line; he is only a ‘reformer’ for public consumption, but his Senate record tells a different tale; he hasn’t really been any sort of ‘maverick’ in seven years, if he was even then; and he may have once been a damaged hero of a national military mistake nearly as profound as the current debacle in Iraq but, today, John McCain, to put it as politely as I can muster, is a craven candyass who has given up any shred of integrity he had to espouse views that he once criticized, and embraces a deceitful president who viciously disparaged him to win the 2000 nomination and a war that is breaking both the bank and our military, all to fulfill an ambition that has morphed into a psychosis.
As Scott McClellan wrote of Dubya in his recently released book, McCain has also become adept at conveniently “convincing himself to believe what suits his needs,” and what suits his needs is to become president — but then what? The aged charlatan has already lost his soul to try and gain the whole world and the shriveled thing will be nothing more than a trophy on display next to the three comic books and the photos of Gore and Kerry in the George W. Presidential Library, stored in a Lucite cube and marked “Another Bush Victory,” with smaller type beneath carefully excusing the Bush White House for any complicity in John McCain’s landslide loss in 2008.
McCain’s downfall won’t be linked to a love tryst with a woman like the fictional Susan Alexander, the exposure of which lost the gubernatorial election for Welles’ Charles Foster Kane; no, it will be, particularly galling to a Republican queasy about gays, due to his public affection for a man George Walker Bush.