John McCain

John McCain's Flawed, Important Example in the Age of Trump

The cancer-stricken senator's eternal pursuit of honor and integrity are a welcome tonic in a tawdry age, even while his policy misjudgments helped pave the way for the new Republican politics he abhors.


Good book. ||| Random House
Random House

John McCain would be the first to tell you that it does no good to whitewash our heroes. In fact, as he has stressed throughout his six published books and untold thousands of media interviews, it's the imperfections and missteps of our best protagonists, coupled with the arduous and even hopeless natures of their quests, that make them worth studying in the first place.

So as the senior Arizona senator grapples with brain cancer in the wake of blod-clot surgery, and the tripartisan tidal wave of sympathetic affection from Republicans, Democrats, and journalists overwhelms the strangled objections of sour contrarians, allow this critical ideological biographer of the man to suggest that it's precisely John McCain's mixture of high-minded virtue and low self-interest, of policy righteousness and interventionist overreach, that makes his a particularly educational example in the era of Donald Trump.

Underlying these past hours' outpouring of tributes is the sense that McCain is a pre-Trump throwback to honor and decency, that his irascible independence is precisely what our system of checks and balances cries out for as the 45th president crashes through norm after norm. There is some important truth to that—for instance McCain's global barnstorming tour to reassure America's nervous allies that United States foreign policy involves more than just the whims of its unpredictable commander-in-chief. Few people with half his 80 years would have the stamina for such travel, and even fewer would be driven by such patriotic fire to do what he considers the right thing.

But not all of McCain's policy judgments this year have been sound, not all of his motivations have been pure, and not many of Trump's excesses has he meaningfully opposed. The place where his instincts have gotten the worse of him on all of the above is precisely where his counsel is most taken seriously by the press: foreign policy.

In March, the same man being praised today as a beloved elder statesman made the hideously false charge that one of his main Senate antagonists, Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), "is now working for Vladimir Putin" because Paul reasonably opposed bringing the troubled ex-Yugoslav country of Montenegro into NATO. (If it were up to McCain, the transatlantic military alliance would now include Georgia and Ukraine, and conditionally Bosnia and Macedonia as well.)

During confirmation season, McCain, like all other GOP senators, waved through 90 percent of President Trump's picks, no matter how awful or inexperienced. For whom did he finally bring out the long knives? The perfectly qualified Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former congressman and longtime fiscal conservative in good standing. What was the objection? That Mulvaney questions military as well as non-military spending, and is leery of open-ended missions abroad. "He's anti-defense," McCain charged at the time, inflammatorily. "He voted to remove all of our troops from Afghanistan….That's just bizarre."

Being a relentless hawk in American politics means almost never having to say you're sorry for errant belligerence and interventions gone wrong (though Tucker Carlson is belatedly attempting to change that equation). McCain sidekick Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) will never not be invited on the Sunday chat shows to talk fixes to the foreign policy messes he actively egged on. But to a degree that I think many NeverTrump conservatives, and quite a few Hillary Clinton supporters, still have yet to honestly grapple with, the real-world deaths, global chaos, and long-distance quagmires we've been left with after all these fine-sounding Beltway plans are part of the reason we now have a vulgar insult-comic as president.

As Ed Krayewski pointed out two weeks ago, a fascinating new research paper found "significant and meaningful relationship between a community's rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump….Trump significantly outperformed Romney in counties that shouldered a disproportionate share of the war burden in Iraq and Afghanistan." The president is nobody's anti-interventionist, but he is asking some of the right questions about Afghanistan, such as "I want to find out why we've been there for 17 years." The McCainite view keeps assuming U.S. military presence in various troubled spots for as long as it takes, and fie on those who should weaken our resolve. The foreign policy gap between the Washington consensus and the American public has been growing for some time now, and the interventionists have failed to meaningfully adjust.

Ever since finally shaking off his hard-earned Vietnam Syndrome and embracing what neoconservatives were for a while calling National Greatness Conservativism, John McCain has been declaring "war on the cynicism that threatens our public institutions." Many of his worst anti-individualist policy ideas have sprung from that impulse—regulating political speech, drug-testing teenagers, making national service mandatory—but set those things aside for a moment, and look at one key way that McCain has contributed to the very Trump-aggrandizing cynicism he disdains.

In 2006, McCain was the lead Republican working with Sen. Teddy Kennedy (D-Mass.) on President George W. Bush's longstanding goal of comprehensive immigration reform, which eventually went nowhere. In 2013, he was once again part of the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" to tackle the legislation, which also fizzled. And in 2016, he was decrying the "nativism" of Trump's immigration rhetoric. So what's cynical here? The years in between. Specifically, the election years.

In 2007, facing a conservative backlash that very nearly sunk his presidential hopes, McCain punted the Kennedy-cooperation job in early 2007 to the then-junior Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, and then began openly campaigning against immigration bills he'd previously cosponsored, such as the DREAM Act. And in 2010, facing a primary challenge from immigration hawk J.D. Hayworth, McCain starred in one of the most gruesomely cynical TV commercials you will ever see, with unforgettable tagline "complete the danged fence." When you play the base for rubes, eventually they develop an attraction to outsider politicians who campaign against the broken promises of the establishment. (See these posts of mine from 2013 and 2016 for more about McCain's immigration flip-floppery.)

One of the things that makes McCain so irresistible to political journalists is that he willingly admits the kind of character flaws that produce his lower moments in politics. "I have craved distinction in my life," he confessed in his fascinating 2002 political memoir Worth the Fighting For. "I have wanted renown and influence for their own sake. That is, of course the great temptation of public life. Few are immune to its appeal. The desire to be somebody has driven many a political career much further than the intention to do something. I have never been able to conquer it permanently, but I have tried."

It's the I-have-tried part that I think offers us a more positive path forward, in contrast to the more negative observations above. It is not hard to sift through a long and sporadically sanctimonious public record and find serial instances of hypocrisy, especially when the politician happily volunteers them. But in an age personified by the Twitter shrug emoji and the world-weary observation that "everybody lies," it's good to have near the national discussion someone who is embarrassed enough by his own lies that he feels compelled to apologize for them, saying stuff like, "I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth."

"The worst decisions I have made, not just in politics but over the course of my entire life," he co-writes (along with perennial co-author Mark Salter) in his 2007 book Hard Call, "have been those I made to seek an advantage primarily or solely for myself." He has yielded to that temptation often, more than he publicly admits, yet he's haunted by the gap between honor and performance, and motivated to do better.

I would rather my political representatives agreed with my (admittedly idiosyncratic) policy preferences, and that they weren't hypocrites. But on a comportment level, give me the guy who at least recognizes the lodestar of virtue in the first place, is capable of admitting error, and burns with a genuine patriotic energy.

I wish John McCain would have retired in November, and enjoyed the company of his family, a few of whom I know a bit. I wish him the best in coping with the tough medical diagnosis he's been dealt. And though the U.S. Senate doesn't exactly need more foreign policy uber-hawks, American politics in 2017 could stand to have more people who are at least haunted by a sense of decency.

NEXT: Trump's 'Made In America Week' Inadvertently Highlights Corporate Welfare

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  1. The war romantic in me has always been proud that a man, a soldier, like McCain fought heroically and suffered greatly in Vietnam only to return to his country and continue serving in a different form.

    A day will come to pass when no characters of any true grit exist within any branch of our government. It will be totally and completely rich grand kids of someone else long dead who had to achieve on their own merit.

    1. fought heroically


      1. Rhetoric does find a way to seep into even the vernacular of the disillusioned it would seem. That said, I don’t think there is anything more intense that human beings have actualized than aerial dogfights.

        1. I was in a hot dog eating contest last saturday (Same as every saturday) and no one, audience member or participant, was left unscathed.

          1. Euphemism?

        2. , I don’t think there is anything more intense that human beings have actualized than aerial dogfights.

          I see someone hasn’t played Halo 3.

    2. Fuck McCain. I have no respect for him. None. He wanted to ban mixed martial arts because it was “human cockfighting.” He wanted a ban a sport that millions enjoy watching, and in which everyone is participating voluntarily, because he personally didn’t like it. What an asshole.

      1. Human cockfighting makes me feel insecure, and yet invigoratingly aroused.

      2. What really annoys me about all the supposed tributes to McCain is that, not even ten years ago, many of these same people were sliming him because he had the gall to run for President against the Lightworker himself. Obama’s tweet was particularly obnoxious–motherfucker, weren’t you the one who flipped McCain the bird during one of your speeches? Don’t talk like you actually have any respect for the man.

        McCain’s main legacy isn’t his war record, it’s the fact that the press saw him as their pet Republican and were happy to talk him up when he was doing his “Maverick” thing, but trashed him when he was actually a threat to hold a position of real influence.

      3. My praise was a bit more on the romantic, whimsical side. The trope of a soldier turned political leader — considered in the abstract, before taking into account their parties or policies — is one that I’ve always been a little fond of but again that’s the romantic in me.

        Shitty policies aside, I’m not ashamed to say a few nice words about a man doomed to a fast approaching death.

        1. I generally agree with your original post. We’re fast approaching the point where the system, including the military, will be run entirely by people who have never had any skin in the game. That’s not good.

          I don’t agree with everybody on everything just for being a veteran, even on military matters, as there are flakes and cranks like in any other walk of life, but I respect that they served this country in their own way.

    3. continue serving in a different form


    4. If you want to honor his military service, I won’t try to argue with you. But I don’t consider going into politics “service”. It is an act of aggression against the American people in most cases.

      1. Indeed. Especially when, according to Welch and McCain, he didn’t go into politics for ‘service’ he went into politics to ‘become somebody important’. So, because a person admits that they want power for powers sake it makes them somehow better because they admit it, rather than hiding it.

        On one hand, I can see the logic there but on the other I’m not sure such ‘honesty’ is a mitigating factor at all. Especially when it involves everlasting war and the deaths of millions of people over the course of several decades with no clear objective and few, if any, positive results.

      2. John McCain III is actually the son of a famous Admiral John McCain, Jr who was Commander of the Pacific Fleet during McCain’s time as a naval officer and POW.

        He endured unspeakable horrors as a POW and refused to be released until other POWs had been released. I think this was because his family name demanded this but I wont question his military honor or service.

        There tends to be a big difference between military officers and the enlisted. It seems more enlisted people are conservatives and more officers than you would think are Democrats. Maybe this has to do with enlisted doing the real work, I don’t know.

        McCain used his family’s influence and being such a famous POW to catapult into politics. He has been a crony politician ever since.

        1. McCain used his family’s influence and being such a famous POW to catapult into politics. He has been a crony politician ever since.

          ^ This.

            1. He has certainly been a less-than-desirable politician for way too long.

      3. Oh he’s aggressive alright – he doesn’t care for Trump’s efforts to clean the swamp so he peddles bullsh!t to try and discredit POTUS ” Anyway, this week Kevin G. Hall of McClatchy reported that McCain’s name continues to come up in connection with the leaking of this dossier. Specifically, McCain is named in court documents by attorneys of Chris Steele ? the discredited British spy who compiled the document.”

        He did serve and bully for him, but it wasn’t altruistic – his grandfather was an Admiral, his dad was also – so with silver spoon in mouth, he went into the service also (nothwithstanding all the plane wreckage in his wake).

  2. I wonder if his unsound picking of Sarah Palin as a running mate in 2008 led to Obama’s victory? Maybe no Republican ticket could have beat Obama that year, but, wow, maybe his coat-tails would have been lots shorter.

    1. The 2008 election was almost entirely a referendum on George Bush, and since he wasn’t eligible to run again, the Republican candidate would have to be the goat. If Barack Obama had been the Republican nominee, the Democrats still would have won.

    2. I wonder if his unsound picking of Sarah Palin as a running mate in 2008 led to Obama’s victory?

      No. Support for McCain was tepid, at best–he became a real threat precisely because Palin started talking shit right from the start at the RNC.

      As much as 2008 was a referendum on Bush, what really fucked McCain over was his bizarre “suspension” of his campaign to go dicker over the bank bailout. Everyone knew it was a grandstanding maneuver and it made him look desperate for attention.

      1. Yeah – as much I find her to be fingers-scraping-a-chalkboard annoying, I think if anything Palin helped him.

    3. Bush was a horrible president and the Republicans had help turn the USA into a Police-State. Anyone wanting to continue that would lose. McCain said he would continue unconstitutional domestic spying and the war in Iraq. McCain lost.

      There was optimism for Obama to be a good black man and fight the power!

      People soon found out that that Obama would not give them as much free shit as they expected and he kept the USA in perpetual war for 8 years.

      1. McCain at least spoke out against torture as a national policy, but sadly wasn’t enough of a “maverick” to oppose the neocon War on Terra. Instead he was it’s most enthusiastic proponent.

        1. Ok, What about now? If McCain was against torture then he had plenty of time and examples to complain about it from the floor of the US Senate. Furthermore, he has had plenty of authority to force the government to address its policy of torture. Let me guess, it was really “Enhanced Interrogation” not torture so no foul.

    4. Joining Obama on the pro-TARP bailout bandwagon didn’t help either. McCain even ceased campaigning to run back to DC to support bailing out the banks, the automakers, the insurance companies, etc.

  3. My mother always taught me that, if you can’t say something nice about somebody, you should say nothing at all, but my mother was a crazy bitch and I hated her guts. Nevertheless, I’ll adhere to that advice and try to say something nice about John McCain.

    1. Well, for one thing he was very loyal to his campaign contributors, like Charles Keating.

    2. Don’t forget that the man supposedly knew how to fly an aircraft at one point. That’s pretty bad ass on it’s own. I’m told his landings left something to be desired though.

      1. I’m sure he was a bad ass. Also an angry person and a pain in the ass from what I’ve heard.

        1. He treated his first wife terribly after he returned from Vietnam, but at least he is open about that. He is a very flawed man, but again, he is open about most of those flaws.

  4. I wish John McCain would have retired in November


    1. Agreed. We’re talking about November 1983, right?

      1. It’s somewhat disappointing to realize that he was the replacement for Barry Goldwater. Not a great trade.

        1. Amen to that.

        2. Welch had a great article a couple years back about McCain’s bafflement at the fact that Goldwater openly didn’t like him. Essentially, McCain thought there ought to be a sort of brothers-in-arms camaraderie among the legislative class, and could never understand that his own pro patria mori authoritarian tendencies were complete anathema to Goldwater.

          1. McCain thought everyone should be like him on the right, and Scoop Jackson on the left.

          2. But didn’t they sort of agree on foreign policy at least?

            1. I believe his hawkishness faded in his later years, but I may very well be wrong. He was definitely hawkish during the cold war though.

              1. I never understood why libertarians are so fond of Goldwater. He lost because he wanted to nuke Vietnam. Most of the really libertarian things he said were put into his mouth by the pen of Karl Hess. It is Hess we should eulogize.

                1. It’s because he was active and at least vaguely libertarian during a 50 year reign of Democrats in Congress. He sticks out and was also there during the formative years of libertarians. He’s certainly not perfect, but he was better than most during a long drought. Also, I’m from AZ, so I have a nativist pride towards him. He’s all I have now that the Suns suck again.

                  Though, I’m completely fine with raising Hess up as well. It’s not like we’re so drowning in good examples of political activists that we need to start passing people up.

                  1. Also, I’m from AZ, so I have a nativist pride towards him.

                    He and John Rhodes really were emblematic of Arizona’s overall shift to the Republican party after World War II.

                2. I never understood why libertarians are so fond of Goldwater.


                  He lost because he wanted to nuke Vietnam.

                  He was too honest: he hated labor unions, was against the Civil Rights Act, was a fervent anti-Communist, and wouldn’t rule out nuking Vietnam.

                3. Did he want to nuke Vietnam though? I think that was just a Democrat scare ad.

                  You know which other major party presidential candidates refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons? All of them.

                  1. It was a scare ad, a very effective scare ad. Everyone was freaking out about nuclear war and M.A.D, and the Cuban Missile Crisis was fairly recently, and Goldwater sort of gave a, “ehhhhh” talking about going nuclear in Vietnam. It was stupid, but he didn’t claim he was going to nuke them, at least not from what I have read.

        3. I…had not considered that before. That makes it all so much worse. And a lot more difficult to understand too. Is Arizona schizophrenic, or just brain damaged? Oh…uhh…too soon?

          1. I guess it was just changing demographics. Goldwater had been in the Senate ~30 years when McCain came about.

            I like our junior senator enough though. I haven’t followed him too specifically, but I generally think Flake seems better than most. I think he’s facing a tough election though, as a lot of people here seem to consider him too laissez-faire in the age of Trump.

            1. Flake is a’ight. He once exiled himself to a desert island, but the example unfortunately didn’t catch on among politicians.

              1. That sounds like one of those damn Mormon things.

            2. …as a lot of people here seem to consider him too laissez-faire in the age of Trump.

              God, that’s a terrifying thought. It says something that McCain has been consistently re-elected though. I get the feeling that the people who voted for him will vote for someone a lot like him, but who really knows. Certainly not the pollsters.

              1. God, that’s a terrifying thought.

                I know the local conservative talk shows constantly paint Flake as an extremist and someone unwilling to do what’s best for the state because he’s not openly cronyistic and is against a border wall.

                In AZ McCain has ascended to a position of such adoration that I don’t know if he could get voted out for almost anything.

                Another thing he has in common with Ted Kennedy I guess.

  5. “Eternal pursuit of honesty and integrity”.

    GawdalmightyDAM! That’s a knee slapper.

    I guess the Keating Five was a Dave Clark tribute band.

    1. OK, “honor and integrity”. Like replacing one wife with a very rich beer concession heiress.

    2. And his embarassment at being caught up in those kind of scandals led to push the unconstitutional McCain–Feingold campaign finance reform bill which resulted in the government cksiming it had the authority to censor political documentaries.

      McCain’s lauded “independence” led him to many unprincipled positions while demanding support from GOP voters merely because he had an “R” after his name.

      Cancer is an awful affliction, but I do not like him as a politician.

      1. I didn’t know Cancer was a politician. Lousy name for it, though.

  6. Sorry but i’ve seen no decency or honor in any of McCains actions ever. I have seen his hatred for others and his blood lust for war and interference in foreign affairs. that is how I will always see him. That said I do not wish pain or suffering on any one, even those I disagree with.

    1. ?? Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb a Ron

      1. “””””There is some important truth to that?for instance McCain’s global barnstorming tour to reassure America’s nervous allies that United States foreign policy involves more than just the whims of its unpredictable commander and chief.””””

        Yes, the Global Bombstorming tour. I heard their T-shirt was

        Bomb bomb, bomb, bomb bomb everywhere

  7. Bleck! I’ve heard really nasty rumors about John McCain’s collaboration with the Vietnamese circulated by other prisoners. He certainly rode that POW thing for all it’s worth. His role in that fake dossier hit-piece he helped order up on his own party’s nominee last year dispelled any illusions I had that he’s an honorable man.

    He’s a statist who’ll be trying to hold on to that Senate seat with his dying breath.

  8. McCain is a litmus test that proves I’ll never be ultra successful in life. If I ever get to the point where I forget how many houses I own, I’m going to live out the rest of my life touring the world’s beaches with bikini models. But McCain’s going to work until he keels over in the office.

  9. …and fie on those…

    I like that word.

  10. I would never wish cancer on somebody, but no matter how self-aware he is, we shouldn’t be able to move past the people whose lives he’s ruined and still wants to ruin abroad with his warmongering. The man advocates mass murder and has a very powerful voice whenever he does so

  11. who are at least haunted by a sense of decency.

    Politicians are haunted of fear of having a conscience, not a conscience itself.

  12. Do you think that if McCain dies from the same brain cancer that Ted Kennedy died of they’ll be people jumping on top of his grave screaming “MURDERER!” I mean, he uncontroversially killed more people than Ted’s worst detractors ever accused him of and then went on to campaign– indirectly to be sure– in a matter that justified the deaths that he caused

    1. Is it paradoxical for a Stalin worshiper to care about “justified” death?

      1. Only if you’re on a speaking basis with logic, principle, and human decency, which ol’ amsoc here most certainly is not.

        1. OT: someone on a previous article about Stalin linked to this page and it’s endlessly fascinating. “Tankies” are commies who think the Soviets were justified rolling in their tanks to quell insurrections, i.e. they blatantly disregard the “not real Communism” thing and just accept the mass murder. They even love North Korea

          I also saw Glenn Greenwald inadvertently retweet a tankie from this page, which was hilarious

          1. Damn, dude, don’t link amsoc to so much premium j/o fodder in the middle of the day!

          2. Also, that site is hella depressing.

          3. Reddit is absolutely infested with those assholes. You can usually spot them brigading any vaguely libertarian subreddits and bragging about how we’re all going to be first against the wall. Naturally, the mods and admins are too busy agreeing with them to care.

            1. I already knew Reddit was 99% a dirtbag parliament, so thanks for justifying my decision to avoid it like the plague.

              1. Dirtbag Parliament was my nickname in college.

            2. I kind of expect that. The alt-right and some cheekier ancaps have latched onto the idea of throwing leftists out of helicopters Pinochet style. That’s just discourse on the internet, especially among autists

              What really stands out is how they aren’t anti-interventionists, or even anti-imperialists, but are just plainly anti-USA. I thought that was just a Cold War-era smear but it’s clearly true for some. Whoever we don’t like is heroic to them, without fail

              1. What’s wrong with being anti-USA? Doesn’t it’s military spending and military adventurism deserve condemnation? Use the Constitution for toilet paper.

                1. Come on, amsoc, reading’s not THAT hard. Let’s look at the sentence entire:

                  What really stands out is how they aren’t anti-interventionists, or even anti-imperialists, but are just plainly anti-USA.

                  In other words the people in question are often completely fine with intervention/imperial ambition as long as it’s not the U.S. doing it. Being against the U.S. is the whole basis of their ideology.

              2. This, pretty much.

                I’m not a fan of the “free helicopter rides” assholes either. I don’t think they understand what they’re playing with.

                And with half the assholes calling everybody a Nazi and the other half calling everybody a Commie, I don’t trust that any of these jokers even care who goes splat as long as they get to kill somebody.

                Also, the anti-USA fanaticism is real. I still remember after 9/11 how much bullshit I saw everywhere online that amounted to “anybody who kills thousands of Americans can’t be all bad” or worse. And the “anti-war” movement was and still is infested with bloodthirsty psychos that they can’t or won’t kick out of the tent, so they must be planning to use them.

              3. The alt-right and some cheekier ancaps have latched onto the idea of throwing leftists out of helicopters Pinochet style.

                Ridiculous. Don’t they think about how long that would take?

          4. Where have I ever advocated that we follow the model of the USSR or NK? You mean that I’ve not without ambivalence towards the Russian Revolution, which ended Russia’s participation in a savage imperialist war and toppled a brutal monarchy. Or the fact that I’ve used Soviet aggression in the Eastern Bloc as a looking glass on US imperialism. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not a bloodthirsty totalitarian.

            1. So you’re “not without ambivalence” to thugs who toppled a dictatorship and stopped a war so they could set up their own dictatorship and spread it by going to war with everybody? Good for you!

              I’m “not without ambivalence” to history myself, which is why my response is not without mockery.

              1. Go ahead… make that libertarian case for the bloody Czar of Russia.

                1. The tzars and the commies can all be remembered as the murderous shitheads they were, amsoc. Sometimes life is like that.

                2. Clearly rejecting the Communists means we must have supported the Czar. We are the ideology that always accepts the two party dichotomy after all. You got us there

                  So do you have any sort of case for the Great Terror and the Holodomor? I have to wonder if those things were necessary to improve the lives of people in the USSR

            2. Shouldn’t you be running the blockade to tell some Cubans that it’s okay if they go to jail for reading the wrong books because at least they don’t have McDonald’s?

              1. I don’t like stupid laws so I flout them whenever possible. What kind of libertarian are you anyway with your travel bans and shit? I made a decision to spend my money to travel to Cuba no matter what some right-wing apparatchik thought about my endeavor.

                1. I’m not supporting a travel ban, you simpleton. Spend your money and go wherever you want. Just know that when you get there, telling the locals that their government-enforced lack of options is good for them – which you bragged about doing – is a total dick move.

                  1. They’re always arguing with the Republican that exists in their head because they still don’t grasp any brand of libertarianism

                    1. This is so common here with the lefties like amsoc, Tony, and Buttplug. They will accuse any ole commenter of GOP shilling, when in fact the GOP bootlickers are a small (though loud) subset of the commenters on here. It’s like they can’t escape the left-right tardfest and can’t fathom that we hate the GOP just as much.

                    2. Yeah, I think both are inadequate. I wouldn’t say they’re both equally bad in every way, but they’re becoming more alike in some ways.

                      I worry more about the Democrats most of the time because I’m in a blue state and they have more power to actually implement their worst ideas, but then again the Republicans are catching up and our Governor is pretty openly anti-libertarian.

    2. Yeah, ol’ Ted just murdered women as a hobby.

      1. Funny, I don’t recall everybody waiting until he was dead to call him out on having completely skated on a fuckup for which anybody outside the political class would have gone to jail and/or been financially ruined. It was never exactly a secret; if anything, too many people were polite enough to talk around it for him his whole life.

        Apples and oranges, how do they work?

        1. That reply was intended for AmSock. I can’t even blame the squirrels for this one, unless they left somebody drowning while they went home to pass out drunk.

  13. McCain is a retard. albeit a ‘tard that might have briefly impressed me during his maverick peak, sometime in the middle of the Bush admin.

    That said, i wish Welch the best of luck doing the talk-show circuit in the event he croaks. Someone has to say thoughtful things about him. And i think most people in the media are glad there is someone “not them” who can be called upon at short notice to do so. Just don’t wear a pink shirt.

    1. He’s gonna wear a pink shirt, shorts, and a backpack just to fuck with you.

      1. Perhaps a pink romper? I mean, if you’re going to go full retard at least do it with style!

      2. “shorts”

        I remain skeptical that he was actually wearing pants during The Independents.

        1. Pants are the shackles of The Man, man!

  14. In March, the same man being praised today as a beloved elder statesman made the hideously false charge that one of his main Senate antagonists, Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), “is now working for Vladimir Putin,”

    Sure doesn’t match up with the ‘eternal pursuit of honour’ spin you’re going for.

    Welch, this is what ‘honour’ and ‘integrity’ looks like when you’ve been in the DC cesspit for too long. The man is a disingenuous liar and crook.

    1. And this, for the record, is what I’m talking about when I say Reason refuses to hold career politicians to the same standard they hold the plebs.

      1. “I’m a Glib, and I think Welch calling someone out is actually Welch not calling someone out. This is why I hate Reason.”

        1. With any luck, McCain’s and Hihn’s cancer will tag-team your dumb ass.

  15. tough to balance the POW thing with the Keating Five forward…condolences, sucks.

    1. Only if you believe the POW story McCain told. Other prisoners told a very different story.

      1. I haven’t heard those but it’s interesting. Still, dude was in a hole. I’ve never been in a hole, so…

        >>eternal pursuit of honor and integrity are a welcome tonic in a tawdry age

        I just saw this. McCain. Senator (R) – AZ, right? This universe, or some other? Not this universe…

        1. How do we know he was in a hole? Maybe he just spent some time incognito on the Riviera & got a few people to say he was a POW. How could anyone disprove it?

  16. “Commander and chief”

    Jesus. Act like a respectable journalistic entity that doesn’t have the same vocabulary as Ricky from TPB, please.

  17. “The Vietnamese Communists called him the Songbird,” Jack McLamb says. “That’s his code name, Songbird McCain, because he just came into the camp singing and telling them everything they wanted to know.” According to McLamb, “McCain made 32 propaganda videos for the communist North Vietnamese in which he denounced America for what they were doing in Vietnam.”…..the-enemy/

    1. If he made 32 videos for the NVA, one imagines they would have broadcast them, and they’d be on record. That is, after all, the entire point of propaganda videos.

      They shouldn’t need “according to McLamb” – who seems to be a “patriot”-type conspiracy theorist.

      Which is a richly ironic source for Counterpunch.

      (Wikipedia, natch, puts it rather differently, in a much more plausible account of being tortured into a “confession” like everyone else, sourced from interviews and studies in period:

      “Evenutally, McCain made an anti-American propaganda “confession”.[34] He has always felt that his statement was dishonorable, but as he later wrote, “I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine.”[46][47] Many American POWs were tortured and maltreated in order to extract “confessions” and propaganda statements;[48] virtually all of them eventually yielded something to their captors.[49] McCain subsequently received two to three beatings weekly because of his continued refusal to sign additional statements.[50]

      McCain refused to meet with various anti-war groups seeking peace in Hanoi, wanting to give neither them nor the North Vietnamese a propaganda victory.”)

      1. Counterpunch is just Weekly World News for progs.

  18. I held my nose and voted for him in 2008, but the man lost my respect, intellectually, with McCain-Feingold.

    (That said, I wish him no personal ill at all, and what luck is possible in his fight with a deadly disease.)

    1. Yeah, I too held my nose & mouth and voted for him in 2008, after he gave me a terrible scare in 2000 that he might be the nominee. I just didn’t think he’d be as bad as Obama. And I didn’t think Obama would be as bad as he turned out!

      1. Part of it was wanting to tell LP to give up.

  19. So McCain actually believes in being an asshole.

  20. I have no idea what Matt Welch is talking about. The only thing McCain is good for is showing just how awful a neocon warmonger can be, assuming we needed further proof of that.

  21. So, it’s just fine to bomb, invade, loot, and destroy the social structure of a country IF it is done with a haunted sense of decency? But Trump and his ilk, they bomb, invade, loot and destroy indecently? Do you see that this is insane. People who attempted to enact the policies of John McCain and his ilk have cause the impoverishment of millions, the dislocation of millions and the deaths of hundreds of thousands, that is really bad no matter how decent you are.

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