John McCain Wants You

The usable contradictions of the GOP's man

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Behind any successful politician lies a usable contradiction, and John McCain's is this: We love him (and occasionally hate him) for his stubborn individualism, yet his politics are best understood as a decade-long attack on the individual.

The presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party has seduced the press and the public with frank confessions of his failings, from his hard-living flyboy days to his adulterous first marriage to the Keating Five scandal. But in both legislation and rhetoric, Mr. McCain has consistently sought to restrict the very freedoms he once exercised, in the common national enterprise of "serving a cause greater than self-interest."

Read the rest of this column at the New York Times.

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  1. I don’t know Matt, I am starting to get the feeling that you don’t like McCain.

  2. We will, ultimately, get the president we deserve.
    It’s the people who make the president, not the other way around.

  3. We will, ultimately, get the president we deserve.

    No, the majority will get the president they deserve. The rest of us get fucked.

  4. “We are fast becoming a nation of alienating individualists, unwilling to put the unifying values of patriotism ahead of our narrow self-interests,” Mr. McCain warned in a speech during his 2000 presidential campaign.

    So, my country, right or wrong? Is that the sentiment?

    I don’t consider my civil rights narrow self-interests, nor do I think that by ensuring them I am an alienating individualist. But that’s just me.

  5. Matt Welch complains that other people writing about McCain mythologize, or debunk some myths while creating new ones – but he passes on the biggest myth of all: that McCain has done something – anything – to oppose torture.

    Bull. Shit.

    Of all the men in the Congress who have enabled the Bush regimes many crimes in this area, no one’s hands are stained darker than Senator McCain’s. No one’s. The fact that he occasionally pretends to be anti-torture [I guess he does this whenever John King’s permanent McCain blowjob starts to lag a little bit and he needs to inspire him to new effort] only makes it worse.

  6. If McCain weren’t such a warmonger he would be the ideal President despite his recent triangulation with his former far-right detractors (which is a good thing).

    However, American hegemony is bankrupting us and those we “liberate” are not loyal to democracy at all. I know – “democracy” is a loaded term, but the alternative is “liberalism” and that one, while more accurate, gets the wingnuts fired up.

  7. No, the majority will get the president they deserve. The rest of us get fucked.

    Isn’t democracy grand? They even named a political party after it.

  8. Like many country-first, party-second military officers who began second careers in Washington, Mr. McCain is often mischaracterized as a politician without any identifiable ideology

    This is interesting, and I think the insight into McCain’s character and style goes further.

    Most, if not all, military to politician conversions, even the unsuccessful ones, are of the General rank. You cannot now, and really, never have been able to achieve a flag rank without some political skills as well as military ones. And indeed, the very best of the breed in the modern era, Eisenhower, achieved greatness precisely because of his political skills.

    But McCain never had to do this; and so his executive style would be exclusively that of a commanding officer, where the constitutional dicatorship of that position instills some legal limits, but few practical ones.

  9. “””It’s the people who make the president, not the other way around.”””

    Curious, how does that work?

  10. What does that mean?

    Do you mean he’s elected by us, therefore, that somehow relates to his character?

  11. If we elect him, then we are approving of his character. Not those of who don’t vote for him, of course. Am I speaking Chinese and not knowing it?

  12. If McCain weren’t such a warmonger he would be the ideal President

    Except for his contempt for the bill of rights, his willingness to let the federal budget continue to expand, his betrayal of the POW/MIAs, and his many personality flaws?

    -jcr

  13. “We are fast becoming a nation of alienating individualists, unwilling to put the unifying values of patriotism ahead of our narrow self-interests,” Mr. McCain warned in a speech during his 2000 presidential campaign.

    He needs to go back and read the Declaration of Independence. What the “unifying values of patriotism” folks miss is that it’s the government that needs to earn the respect of the individuals, not the individuals that need to earn the respect of (McCain’s) government.

    If the government isn’t meeting the “narrow self-interests” of individual Americans, (particularly by protecting individual rights) it’s failing to do its job.

    McCain, of all candidates, should know this. The “put patriotism before your own interests” philosophy produces the kind of government that captured and tortured him.

  14. The New York Times is “liberal” and “anti-Iraq war”? That’s news to me.

    Sure, they include the occasional critique of the Bush administration’s handling of the war, but they’re also the same paper that publishes Michael Gordon’s straight-from-the-mouths-of-Pentagon-spokesmen claims of nefarious Iranian backing of attacks on American troops and allegations that EFPs are personally being made by the mullahs. And I know it was a few years ago, but Judith Miller anyone? And — hello — how anti-war can a paper really be if it can endorse both McCain and Clinton, two of the most hawkish politicians in their respective parties?

  15. “””If we elect him, then we are approving of his character. Not those of who don’t vote for him, of course. Am I speaking Chinese and not knowing it?”””

    Chinese, no. Plain English, no. I would say Bush came from his parents, where did you come from? 😉

    But you’ve made yourself clear so now I can respond. That’s a tricky way of looking at it. The problem arises when the candidate is not forthright about his character or beliefs, or changes them after the fact. It goes to informed decision making. One can not make proper decision with bad information. Your claim becomes false when the citizenry is fed false information about the candidate. Example, I voted for Bush in 2000 because he was touting small government, no nation building, and pro-gun rights. Is it my fault because HE failed to live up to his own standards? If you buy a car and it’s a lemon, is it your fault the car is that way or the manufactures?

    We don’t make the President, he makes himself with his decisions and abilities. Having said that, if we reelect the lemon after he’s shown to be as such. Yeah, that one’s on us. And yes, I voted for the other guy in 2004.

  16. The Times is most certainly liberal. However, it has odd views on the war.

  17. Charlie, few people recognize that the NY Times in the only newspaper where one of it’s staff did jail time to protect a Bush admin official that was leaking information to the media. And I’m not talking about Plame’s identity.

  18. My point is that the so called liberal rag went farther to protect a neo-con than any other media outlet. I think the liberal haters should acknowledge that.

  19. The Times is most certainly liberal. However, it has odd views on the war.

    Is it too cynical to think they supported the war just so they’d have stories to cover for the next few years?

  20. No, the majority will get the president they deserve. The rest of us get fucked.

    I don’t often like to declare this, but Episiarch wins the thread.

  21. anti-Iraq War newspaper that endorsed him

    The New York Times is anti-Iraq war?? since when?

  22. I second Paul’s opinion. “The people” usually refers to the majority, not thinking of everyone else who gets screwed over. For that reason, I never refer to “the people” in any threads anywhere I post. Given that the term “People’s Republic” is usually part of the name of a communist regime, I think most libertarians would be happy to dispense with this tired old political term.

  23. It’s the people who make the president, not the other way around.

    That’s part of the problem.

  24. The NYTimes is not anti war. They’re cheerleaders going in and then after a little bit they’re cheerleaders going out.

  25. … without any identifiable ideology…

    Odd. McCain has always been very explicit about his ideology. To paraphrase: “There is no higher calling, nor more noble act, than for an individual to sacrifice himself to the greater national good.”
    McCain is a proud poster child for altruism and authoritarianism. He says it in nearly every speech, in one form or another.

  26. I find it funny that the liberal NYT is pulling a libertarian line. Both major parties attempt to restrict our freedoms in a multitude of ways. Personally, I find the Democrats are far more successful and therefore rarely vote for them. Republicans are only slightly less bad, mostly because they largely fail.

    Be honest. Has any law ever affected who you screwed or how you screwed them? I doubt it. But I guarantee Democratic-sponsored laws have completely changed your education, health care, and retirement.

  27. …….In 2001, McCain founded the Alexandria, Va.-based Reform Institute as a vehicle to receive funding…………McCain used the institute to promote his political agenda and provide compensation to key campaign operatives between elections………..

    Arianna Huffington, syndicated columnist and creator of the HuffingtonPost.com, has served on the Reform Institute’s advisory committee since the group’s inception…….

    Prominent senior officials on the McCain 2008 presidential campaign staff found generously paid positions at the Reform Institute following the senator’s unsuccessful run for the White House in 2000……..

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=56177

  28. McCain has 5 traits in his belief system:

    1. Mercantalism 2. Corporatism 3. Authoritariansim 4. Imperialism 5. Nationalism

    You will find a lot of these same traits spelled out in Mein Kampf.

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