John McCain

Will McCain-Style Conservatism Live On?

In the Arizona senator's waning days, it's an open question whether his familiar vision of a robustly interventionist America idealistically leading the international trading order will survive in Donald Trump's GOP.

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Not exactly the Donald Trump fan club ||| Barry Goldwater, Jr.
Barry Goldwater, Jr.

What is it about the red Sonoran dust that produces Arizona senators who punch so far above their national weight?

Barry Goldwater, an Arizonan from before there was a state, thrilled a generation of conservatives with his libertarian-inflected ideas, yanked the Republican Party westward from its Northeast base, read the riot act to Richard Nixon as impeachment loomed and paved the way for Ronald Reagan. So compelling a figure was he that some of the same Democrats who vilified Goldwater as a half-mad nuclear warmonger during his disastrous 1964 presidential run, bathed him in respect at the end of his long public career.

Goldwater's successor, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, has lived a rich enough life that he's cycled a few times through periods of public affection, derision and rapprochement. And while people don't use the moniker "McCain conservative" the way they do "Goldwaterite," that doesn't mean his conception of what a Republican and even a centrist should be hasn't been profoundly influential, particularly over the past quarter-century.

McCain has been a constant fixture in the headlines, from when he was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 to today, as he prepares for his own funeral. He is arguably Washington's most pivotal nonpresident since the end of the Cold War. His vision of a robustly U.S.-led international order of free trade, human rights and patriotic idealism is familiar enough. The question is, will that type of conservatism live on?

Interventionism has been central to the McCain project. Both the senator and the nation graduated from a hesitant "peace dividend" posture (albeit with the occasional missile strike) early in the 1990s to preemptive war-machine status by the decade's end, aiming to liberate captive peoples with the world's most potent military. McCain went from criticizing President Clinton's first-term interventions in Somalia, Haiti and Yugoslavia to shouting down his own party's isolationist flank in support of Clinton's second-term bombing of Kosovo.

Critical to this transformation was his own—and, again, the nation's—healing of Vietnam wounds. McCain overcame 5½ years of often brutal captivity, which left his body permanently damaged. He went on to team with his fellow senator and Vietnam vet, Democrat John F. Kerry, to hold POW hearings on Capitol Hill and normalize relations with still-communist Vietnam.

In his 1998 memoir "Faith of My Fathers," McCain shook off what we used to call the Vietnam Syndrome at the book's conclusion. "Surely, for a time, our loss in Vietnam afflicted America with a kind of identity crisis," he wrote. "[But] we should never have let this one mistake, terrible though it was, color our perceptions forever of our country's purpose."

Ironically, McCain's emerging celebrity as he wrote those words distracted observers from just how interventionist his foreign policy views had become. While he rode the "Straight Talk Express," charming the national press corps during his first joyous "maverick" run for the Republican presidential nomination, the candidate's ideology went largely unexamined. In fact, he championed a doctrine of "rogue state rollback," offering aid to those who would "overthrow the odious regimes" in countries such as Iraq and North Korea, and vowing never to "abandon them to the mercies of tyrants whenever they meet with reversals."

His aggressive vision lost in the 2000 nomination battle to George W. Bush, who promised a more humble foreign policy. But McCain won the longer-term war of ideas once Bush was faced with the horrors of 9/11. The senator's credibility with Democrats and journalists initially helped convince fence-sitters to back Bush's eventually disastrous Iraq war.

Domestically, McCain has mostly been the opposite of the libertarian Goldwater (which helps explain the frosty relationship that persisted between the two), championing intrusive federal interventions in everything from political advertising to athletes' use of performance-enhancing drugs. When the financial crisis hit during the last weeks of the his second presidential race, in 2008, he was long on gestures—showily suspending his campaign—but short on coherent ideas.

McCain's conservatism has rarely been populist. His father and grandfather were celebrated Navy admirals, his mother and second wife were heiresses, and his private sector career lasted all of 18 months. He kept the conservative grassroots at arm's length, except when he felt threatened enough to pander to them. (See his 2010 campaign ad, "Complete the danged fence.")

Still, in most pursuits, and through his waning days, the senator has imbued his actions and words with a haughty yet self-effacing sense of patriotism and honor, most clearly on display these days with his repudiation of the "half-baked, spurious nationalism" of President Trump's politics.

All the same, it's hard to escape the conclusion that McCain and his Republican cohort—Sen. Bob Corker, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Lindsay Graham—helped midwife the conservative politics they now so clearly loathe. The twin follies of promiscuous war and unbridled GOP growth of government, lashed to sporadic and transparently insincere nods toward populism, has turned a generation of voters against the Republican establishment. It remains to be seen if the rejection will be permanent.

Goldwater conservatism has mostly been chased off—fellow Arizonan Jeff Flake, arguably the most Goldwaterite member of the Senate, is quitting rather than fighting the Trump wave. If McCain conservatism is going to last longer than its namesake, it will have to confront the errors that made Trump possible.

Matt Welch is author of McCain: The Myth of a Maverick. This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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  1. A little early for an obituary. Or is it?

    1. Not early enough. McCain and the other rino’s is why we have Trump. The GOPe republicans betray their base and vote for more and more government.

      1. what was that dearie? speak up a bit

    2. Not early enough. McCain and the other rino’s is why we have Trump. The GOPe republicans betray their base and vote for more and more government.

      1. im deaf in one ear yknow. stop mumbling!

    3. Not early enough. McCain and the other rino’s is why we have Trump. The GOPe republicans betray their base and vote for more and more government.

      1. “got girly tough”? that doesnt make any sense.

    4. Not early enough. McCain and the other rino’s is why we have Trump. The GOPe republicans betray their base and vote for more and more government.

      1. weeeelll excuse me, mister Alfredo Arnold Cocozza! there is no need to yell. thats whats wrong with this generation with the facebook & the ubers: no respect for your elders. when i was your age i fought the nazis BOTH WAYS IN THE SNOW every morning to get to school, which of course was just a cardboard box on account of the Depression & the Indian Wars.

    5. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour…

      This is what I do…. http://www.onlinereviewtech.com

  2. He’s a wholly-owned subsidiary of the military-industrial-government complex.
    He’s never had an honest job in his life.
    Why is Welch praising McCain’s absurd and evil insistence we should not take away from the Vietnam debacle the only positive lesson it might have offered?
    He’s devoted his career to “let’s keep doing Vietnam, we’ll get it right this time for sure.”
    The closest thing the Republican Party has to Hillary Clinton, he can’t die soon enough. He should’ve have died in Vietnam. It would have been a far greater service to his country than anything he did with his survival. May he rot in pieces.

    1. “Why is Welch praising McCain’s…”

      It’s all Trumps fault.

      1. Strangely enough, you might be entirely correct. What would a hypothetical Welch article look like today if Trump had lost the election? I suspect it would have been a little more damning.

    2. With what little respect you are due, his service in uniform was the ultimate honest job.
      Other than that, I find little in his politics to qualify a conservative.

    3. Why is Welch praising McCain’s absurd and evil insistence we should not take away from the Vietnam debacle the only positive lesson it might have offered?

      FTFA:

      Critical to this transformation was his own?and, again, the nation’s?healing of Vietnam wounds. McCain overcame 5? years of often brutal captivity, which left his body permanently damaged.

      In his 1998 memoir “Faith of My Fathers,” McCain shook off what we used to call the Vietnam Syndrome at the book’s conclusion. “Surely, for a time, our loss in Vietnam afflicted America with a kind of identity crisis,” he wrote. “[But] we should never have let this one mistake, terrible though it was, color our perceptions forever of our country’s purpose.”

      That doesn’t sound like praise to me, more like statements of fact. If there’s any praise to be had it’s perhaps for his overcoming of the torture he went through as a POW, which is impressive, regardless of how I feel about his politics.

      Your complaint seems to be based on Welch not criticizing him harshly enough for your tastes. I’m not a 7th level mind reading warlock or anything, but maybe he felt that it wouldn’t be appropriate to trash someone on their deathbed.

      Also, while I disagree with much if not all of McCain’s politics, you can’t deny that he’s hugely influenced his party and the country at large, for good or ill (mostly ill).

    4. “He’s a wholly-owned subsidiary of the military-industrial-government complex.
      He’s never had an honest job in his life.”

      He knows how to work a room. He can be quite an engaging public speaker.

  3. I saw a comment in another forum exhorting us to pray for the cancer. I’m not prepared to endorse the sentiment, but it sure seems to sum up how a lot of people feel about McCain.

    1. By “a lot of people” you must mean our authoritarian right-wing goobers.

      Those people are entitled to their opinion, but not to the respect of their betters.

      1. Well, also the Left when he ran against Obama.

        1. Not even close, goober. Thanks for trying to play.

          1. Oh, so you weren’t alive in 2008?

            Explains all of your postings. Thanks for informing us.

            Now go ask mommy to get you a Hot Pocket.

    2. I just wish for him to step down. We shouldn’t view it as honorable to get into power and never cede it. People phrase it as such because they view it as public service, that McCain is sacrificing his health for our own good. But I think it’s nothing more than vanity. Nothing more than narcissism.

    3. “but it sure seems to sum up how a lot of people feel about McCain”

      I prefer using his internet name, Juan McShamnesty.

  4. “McCain-styled conservatism”?

    WTF. you mean the media-whoring, bomb the world because I’m bitter, unprincipled hack kind of McCain-styled conservatism?

    We should hope it doesn’t survive.

    1. I think the main ingredients are talking about how awesome a conservative you are – then agreeing with every stupid idea from Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, and Barack Obama.

  5. I saw a comment in another forum exhorting us to pray for the cancer. I’m not prepared to endorse the sentiment, but it sure seems to sum up how a lot of people feel about McCain.

  6. I saw a comment in another forum exhorting us to pray for the cancer. I’m not prepared to endorse the sentiment, but it sure seems to sum up how a lot of people feel about McCain.

    1. Damn! That’s a busy squirrel!

    2. I just wish he would resign. He is a potential problem if a vote in the Senate comes up that he cannot attend because he has some medical condition.

      1. There’s no way McCain isn’t seriously mentally compromised at this point, and likely has been for a year or more. Yet he hangs on to power instead of spending his last few months with family.

        Even in his dying, he seems determined to prove himself a self-centered vindictive ass.

        1. Sounds interesting, but everyone knows it would take just one vote by McCain for bigotry and backwardness to send Brett Bellmore climbing back aboard the McTrain.

          1. Everybody knows a lot of things that aren’t true. I’ve consistently despised McCain for decades.

  7. “McCain-styled conservatism”?

    WTF. you mean the media-whoring, bomb the world because I’m bitter, unprincipled hack kind of McCain-styled conservatism?

    We should hope it doesn’t survive.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen multiple posts interwoven like yours and Dick Puller.

  8. McCain is a neocon, no doubt about that. There’s still a big future for that kind of interventionism in the Democratic party if Trumps move towards Reagan era pragmatism sticks in the GOP. McCain may have understood that himself. After all, didn’t McCain prefer Hillary Clinton to Trump?

    They’re called neoconservatives because they used to be Marxists. Using the force of the state to revolutionize the oppressed world still has a natural home in the progressive party. The Marxists didn’t oppose Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War on principle. They just didn’t like the the U.S. waging war against a Marxist principal.

    1. Show me a neocon and I’ll show you a big-government leftists who opposes abortion.

      1. +1 common sense

    2. The Marxists didn’t oppose Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War on principle. They just didn’t like the the U.S. waging war against a Marxist principal.

      Principals > principles. Some things never change.

    3. McCain partly lost the election of 2008 because he said he would pretty much load Iraq and Afghanistan with Vietnam troop levels. McCain learned most of his military strategy from his dad and grandfather and his experience in Vietnam.
      McCain is one of those Boomers that was so shaped by his early life that he cannot adapt.

      McCain is fine with the USA being in perpetual war and the government’s unconstitutional spying on Americans. He is a real piece of shit politician.

  9. His curmudgeonly behavior re-Palin and Trump remind me of many similar octogenarians here at my retirement home. Their brain reverts to their TRUE feelings, abandoning the hypocrisy of their earlier life!

    1. That’s why I like talking to little kids and old people. Little kids are innocent, and they say funny things because they have little concept of their words when they are saying them. Old people, on the other hand, know exactly what they are saying and just don’t give a shit anymore.

  10. No Keating 5 mention?

    Thank you Senator Maverick for the F-35 – helluva job. And thank you for the V-22 Osprey, the best dam $75 million prop plane money can buy.

    1. No MIA sellout mention, either?

    2. I’m no McCain fan (the opposite) but I’ll step in to defend the F35. Yep, its over budget, behind schedule, was overly ambitious (I’m looking at you, Marines), and procurement was mismanaged.

      That said…

      I’ll put down a marker that over its life cycle, the actual aircraft itself will be one of the best all-around fighters ever produced and will enjoy a long and successful service life. Seriously.

      1. the actual aircraft itself will be one of the best all-around fighters ever produced and will enjoy a long and successful service life.

        HAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!1111!!111!!!!!!!! Good one!

        While I realize the linked article is a couple of years old, and Lockheed Martin has upgraded the avionics quite a bit since then, all the avionics upgrades in the world won’t change the laws of aerodynamics enough to make an unmaneuverable pig suddenly maneuverable.

        *But long range missiles! Stealth! Advanced Avionics!*

        I know, the Air Force is now saying it was never intended to dogfight, and it’s just going to use long range missiles instead. The problem is, that’s not what they originally claimed the aircraft was going to be, and they’ve made similar claims before. In Vietnam our jets were supposed to just be able to stand off and use missiles too, but that didn’t change the fact that when enemy MiGs did close in our fighters couldn’t turn with them, and even if they could, the F-4s in particular didn’t even initially have guns until the F-4E was developed. Hopefully the combination of stealth and advanced sensors and avionics will be enough to make up for the inability to maneuver this time, but I highly doubt the F-35 will ever be “one of the best all-around fighters ever produced.” At best it will be adequate, and then only when used properly as a stand-off missile platform.

        1. That article is bunk. You did everything but quote fraudster Pierre Spray.

          First, on the early test flights like that, they limited how many Gs the pilots could pull as the plane was still in testing. So yeah, not as maneuverable. In that test. Gloves off, the F35 has comparable maneuverability to an F18 (plenty good), and it is in fact TRUE that it won’t be dogfighting like an F16. It will in fact be killing planes like the F16 at distance, long before they even know an F35 is around. Indeed, missiles account for nearly all recent fighter-vs-fighter kills, so the F35 is just taking the norm and doing it much much better.

          Second, you don’t have the complete story on F4s in Vietnam. First, our missiles back then sucked. Second, we had ROE that prevented BVR kills. So, the ability to kill at distance with missiles was undermined.

          However, different and better missiles were put into service, F4 pilots received better training, and lo and behold, the kill ratios improved greatly. Of note, F4 pilots still did the vast vast majority of their kills WITH MISSILES, not guns…the pod-mounted guns sucked ass anyway. Interestingly, the F35 has much better gun placement options, and if it HAD to engage with a gun, would do far better than an F4.

          You have posted incorrect and outdated information. Simple as that.

          1. That article is bunk.

            Perhaps. Here’s a much more complimentary article, written by an actual F-35 pilot.

            So how does the F-35 behave in a dogfight? The offensive role feels somewhat different from what I am used to with the F-16. In the F-16, I had to be more patient than in the F-35, before pointing my nose at my opponent to employ weapons; pointing my nose and employing, before being safely established in the control position, would often lead to a role reversal, where the offensive became the defensive part.

            The F-35 provides me as a pilot greater authority to point the nose of the airplane where I desire. (The F-35 is capable of significantly higher Angle of Attack (AOA) than the F-16. … This improved ability to point at my opponent enables me to deliver weapons earlier than I am used to with the F-16.

            Defensive situations often result in high AOA and low airspeeds. At high AOA the F-16 reacts slowly when I move the stick sideways to roll the airplane. … Yet another quality of the F-35 becomes evident in this flight regime; using the rudder pedals I can command the nose of the airplane from side to side. The F-35 reacts quicker to my pedal inputs than the F-16 would at its maximum AOA (the F-16 would actually be out of control at this AOA).

            1. It’s hard to say for sure from this whether the F-35 is more or less maneuverable than the F-16 (that’s actually a trickier question to answer than most people think). It’s safe to say the 35 is better at high AOA and slower speeds, and can brake very quickly, which are useful characteristics in a dogfight. Put another way, in certain regions of the flight envelope it’s probably more maneuverable than the 16, but in other parts it isn’t

              The whole article’s worth a read. I’m willing to admit that perhaps I judged the F-35 too harshly based on old information. FWIW, I’m an aerospace engineer, but I’ve never worked on the F-35. My wife is also an aerospace engineer and did, although many years ago. She wasn’t exactly complementary about it back then, but perhaps they’ve managed to fix a lot of the issues with it since then (the fact they had so many issues in the first place is whole ‘nother topic). I’m not sold on the idea of it being “one of the best all-around fighters ever produced,” as you claimed above, but it should be at least adequate when used correctly.

              1. the F-35 shakes quite a bit at high g-loadings and at high angles of attack, while the F-16 hardly shakes at all. The professional terminology is “buffeting”

                This does make me a little nervous though. Buffeting can result in high dynamic loads in the airframe, particularly in the aerodynamic surfaces (wings, vertical & horizontal stabilizers) which can lead to fatigue failures and other issues relatively early in its service life.

                P.S.: Sorry about the multi-part response. Damn character limit.

              2. That is a great article. It might have been one I read while back.

                It took me a while to get sold on the plane too. I initially bought the popular story about the plane, because it oh so neatly fits with beliefs about government incompetence…and indeed they made many mistakes in development. Then I read more about its true capabilities…to the point that now I am quite bullish.

          2. Second, you don’t have the complete story on F4s in Vietnam. First, our missiles back then sucked. Second, we had ROE that prevented BVR kills. So, the ability to kill at distance with missiles was undermined.

            Yeah, obviously our missiles sucked, and it was foolish to think at that time that we could rely purely on missiles. I didn’t realize that we also handcuffed our pilots with such idiotic ROE though. Although I shouldn’t be surprised. Just one more asinine thing we screwed up back then.

        2. You left out the F111. The FB111 would fly into NV drop its payload and leave NV before the sound got to the target.

      2. Some of the best weapon systems came in over budget and seemed to be pieces of crap according to the media. The M-1 Abrams is now a battle tested amazing tank that allows its crew to know they will survive most combat.

        The mainstream media does a horrible job of analyzing military weapon systems. Which is why military people choose niche publications for that, like Jane’s.

        I used to think the media was just undermining American weapon systems because many of them are commie fuckers but I concluded its mostly incompetence. The media is mostly incompetent. Look at many of the reason articles. Utter laziness.

        1. So true. What I think is amazing about many US weapons is that even though they took a long time and lots of $$ to develop, they have stayed viable and in service a very long time. Many get romantic about WW2 weapons and how fast they were developed…but they were also obsolete very quickly and had short service lives (other than as used gear for 3rd world armies). The M1 Abrams is closing in on a 40 year service life ! A tank !

          On the media, it is incompetence and laziness, but often there seems to be a bit of glee around procurement problems. Deep down, I think many simply hate the military. They bitch about cost overruns…but military spending is probably one of the few areas they like to point out spending issues. Elsewhere ? Spend spend spend…

        2. The media is mostly incompetent. Look at many of the reason articles. Utter laziness.

          (Reason comes clean)

          Welcome to CNN. I’m Wolf Blitzer. Today’s top story, we hate Trump! Later tonight Anderson will be sucking John McCain’s old dead dick.

  11. ” it’s worth answering what kind of future McCain-style conservatism has in the the modern-day GOP. That picture, argues Matt Welch, looks murky at best, partly due to the maverick’s influential preference for interventionism.”

    This sounds like roundabout praise of the “Trump movement”.

    1. His preference for being a “maverick” didn’t help his influence. In his case, what it meant was that he’d occasionally, when his own party was largely united against some Democratic bad idea, like campaign censorship, cross the aisle to give them a win.

  12. “Vladimir Putin is an evil man, and he is intent on evil deeds, which include the destruction of the liberal world order that the United States has led and that has brought more stability, prosperity and freedom to humankind than has ever existed in history. He is exploiting the openness of our society and the increasingly acrimonious political divisions consuming us. He wants to widen those divides and paralyze us from responding to his aggression. He meddled in one election, and he will do it again because it worked and because he has not been made to stop.

    . . . .

    We must fight Vladimir Putin as determinedly as he fights us. We will stop him when we stop letting our partisan and personal interests expose our national security interests, even the integrity of our democracy and the rule of law, to his predation. We will stop him when we start believing in ourselves again and when we remember that our exceptionalism hasn’t anything to do with what we are?prosperous, powerful, envied?but with who we are: a people united by ideals, not ethnicity or geography, and determined to stand by those values, not just here at home but throughout the world.”

    —-John McCain

    May 10, 2018

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/jo…..1525964549

    Excerpt from McCain’s not yet published memoir

    1. Nowhere does McCain mention that Trump’s collaboration with Putin defeated ISIS without a U.S. invasion of Syria–presumably because McCain wanted the U.S. to invade and liberate Syria and Trump’s collaboration with Putin made that invasion unnecessary.

      1. Not to mention McCain’s role is fabricating a Trump-Putin election conspiracy.

        I need no further proof that McCain is an empty moron than that he is literally disintegrating yet insists on being A SENATOR.

        1. If you go to that link I gave, the text mostly contains McCain’s explanation both for how he obtained the dossier and why he gave it to Comey.

        2. Trump’s own behavior praising Putin, parroting Russian propaganda on the issue of Russia’s meddling in our election, taking Russian money, changing the party platform at the convention re: Russia’s invasion/ annexation of Ukraine, lying about the Trump Tower meeting, and so much more… these are some of the reasons there’s credible belief Trump was in on the Russian election conspiracy.

          1. Incredible.

          2. Sometimes, if we want to destroy the Nazis by opening up an eastern front and if we want to chase the Imperial Japanese out of China, it’s good for the security interests of the United States to make an alliance with Stalin.

            Neocons never seem to get it.

            If neither John McCain nor Hillary Clinton could have destroyed ISIS without a U.S. invasion by collaborating with Putin, then it’s a good thing neither of them are the President of the United States–because they almost certainly would have sought to invade Syria the way we did Iraq.

          3. “…these are some of the reasons there’s credible belief Trump was in on the Russian election conspiracy.”

            For idiots.

          4. Russia’s invasion/ annexation of Ukraine while Obama was on his prayer carpet. Idiot!

      2. That’s not what happened you useful fucking idiot. The Russians and Assad were slow to attack ISIS because they were using ISIS to delegitimize opposition to Assad. It’s the same reason Assad emptied the prisons of jihadis early in the rebellion. Assad and Russia wanted to paint all the rebels as terrorists. And we were never working with the Russians in Syria. The Russians attacked us in Syria and they were obliterated for it. When you say some shit like “Trump’s collaboration with Putin defeated ISIS” you are revealing just how fucking delusional and played by propaganda you are.

        1. Trump negotiated a ceasefire with Putin in critical areas of conflict in Syria, and Putin negotiated on behalf of the Assad regime and the Iranians. Even Hezbollah respected the ceasefire under Iran’s instructions. The ceasefire in those crucial allowed anti-Assad forces, Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Army, and Assad to concentrate their forces on fighting ISIS rather than fighting each other. This–among other things–led to the total destruction of ISIS in Syria.

          That limited but strategic ceasefire was hardly the extent of Trump’s collaboration with Putin on the issue. Trump campaigned on collaborating with Putin to destroy ISIS this way, which is why McCain actively opposed Trump during the campaign. McCain presumably gave the dossier to Comey at the FBI in the hope of disrupting Trump’s collaboration with Putin.

          Conversely, it seems unreasonable to assume it’s just a coincidence that McCain so vociferously opposed Trump collaborating with Putin during the campaign–and McCain passing the dossier to Comey after Trump unexpectedly won the election.

        2. Zebra’s got nothing figured out but thinks he does.

    2. So says a “war hero” who had no problem murdering defenseless Vietnamese little boys and girls.

      1. I think we can criticize McCain’s ideas and actions as a senator without going there.

        I haven’t seen any indication that McCain doesn’t care about murdering children, and my goal isn’t to persuade people who already agree with me about neocons that McCain is an evil man.

        My goal is to persuade my fellow Americans who think he’s a good man that his ideas and actions as a senator are wrong.

        If you manage to convince our critics that we only oppose neocons because we hate people like McCain, then you’re carrying water for the neocons–regardless of whether you’re doing it intentionally.

        1. Sure, we can criticize McCain’s ideas and actions as a senator without mentioning his actions prior to becoming a senator.

          However, are we prohibited from, as you phrase it, “going there?”

          Note the incessant hagiography heaped upon McCain for his war heroism. Last night, and this morning, I found CNN and MSNBC’s unremitting praise of the man to be vomitorious. Its as if McCain is sacrosanct and his “service” cannot be questioned.

          No, Ken, it is better that the whole story is told. A broader perspective is usually better than a limited, Beltway approved perspective, particularly when it comes to the life of a war mongering public sector lifer.

          You may not have seen any evidence that McCain does not care about murdering defenseless brown people, but that would tend to expose you to charges of, at best, willful blindness. Look at his actions: if he cared about little Vietnamese boys and girls, he would not jump into a plane with the intent of dropping bombs knowing that there would be deaths ensuing. If he cared about not murdering children, he would not be a warmongering tool of the Neo-Cohen party. He would have, with every fiber of his being, opposed the Empire’s intervention in the Balkans, starting wars in Afghanistan, Iran, Libya et al.

          No, the better persuasive approach is to be brutally honest about a thoroughly corrupt, evil, and nasty Neo-Cohen.

          1. “However, are we prohibited from, as you phrase it, “going there?”

            I once saw Jenny McCarthy arguing with some doctors about vaccines on TV. She was going after these doctors for killing x number of children every year who have a bad reaction to various vaccines. The doctor admitted that a certain percentage of children who have bad reactions to vaccines, and he thought their suffering and deaths were tragic.

            Even though the vaccines he advocates do kill a certain number of children, I think it would be both intellectually dishonest and counterproductive to argue that he advocates murdering children.

            Maybe what he’s advocating is wrong for whatever reason, but McCarthy would just make herself and her cause look bad if she argued that this doctor simply wanted children to die.

            In the meantime, good causes are still good even if bad people advocate them. Bad causes are still bad even if good people advocate them. You’re not advancing the cause of liberty in any way by arguing that John McCain is a bad man. You’re shooting us in the foot by either a) making rational people think we’re irrational or b) making irrational people think ad hominem fallacies are somehow ingenious.

            1. So, we shouldn’t criticize John McCain’s actions in deliberately choosing to drop bombs upon Vietnamese children because he was doing so in service of a good cause?

              That death and destruction and devastation resulted should not be attributed to McCain because it would make us look bad and be counterproductive to the cause of liberty.

              Ken, what ad hominem fallacies did I advance? You got irrefutable proof?

              Your post is testament to one of the enduring legacies of Vietnam and empire building and making the world safe for democracy: you gotta destroy the village in order to save it.

              1. “So, we shouldn’t criticize John McCain’s actions in deliberately choosing to drop bombs upon Vietnamese children”

                Do you have any evidence that John McCain was aiming for the children specifically?

                Have you seen this:

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXWhbUUE4ko

                1. I don’t think that Remy’s song fits well when you’re talking about bombing runs on foreign nationals. It’s not exaggerated to comment that when one goes war people will die.

                2. LibertyMike lives under Hanoi Jane’s skirt.

              2. Mike, to be fair to the real life “Maverick”, he began his Vietnam offshore assignment aboard the Forrestal in July 1967. On July 29, 1967 a raging fire broke out on the carrier Forrestal which ignited his jet while he was in it. He escaped and tried to save another pilot when a bomb went off injuring McCain.

                McCain was on his 23rd bombing mission when he was shot down on October 27, 1967. He was released on March 14, 1973.

                McCain was only flying over Vietnam for a few months and then spent 5.5 years being tortured by North Vietnamese.

                I have a lot of beefs with McCain but he is a goddam war hero.

                Its hard to blame young Americans serving when there was a military draft.

                1. I don’t know whether loveconstitution1789 was for or against invading Syria to depose Assad and/or to defeat ISIS, but let’s assume he was for it for the sake of argument.

                  Go ahead and explain, Mike, why predicating opposition to invading Syria on spewing personal hatred of John McCain is helpful in persuading someone like loveconstitution1789 to oppose invading Syria.

                  1. Ken, why would you posit that I would predicate opposition to invading Syria upon hatred of John McCain or any other particular member of the war party?

                    John McCain or no John McCain, invading or otherwise intervening in Syria stands on its own.

                    1. Mike, you were trying to get people to not like Senator McCain because be personally “murdered defenseless Vietnamese little boys and girls.”

                      After you changed things up because of Ken’s comments, McCain’s position on invading Syria stands on its own?

                      IIRC McCain has supported almost every military action the US military has been sent to fight since 2001. I still don’t understand why McCain sends in young Americans to die so easily when he has seen and experienced the horrors of war.

                    2. invading or otherwise intervening in Syria stands on its own.

                      Again Obama intervened in Syria, actually caused the fucking mess.

                      Mike change your user name to something more appropriate like “DamascusMike”

                2. LC, you are, I am sure, somewhat conversant with McCain’s training history prior to the Forrestal? He had a history of being a hotdog that, one a couple of occasions, backfired and caused damage.

                  Sure, once he was captured, I do not begrudge all of his suffering and that he was a torture victim. I have no problem with the fact that the torture broke him as it would any person. I also give him props for staying when he was offered release.

                  1. You seem to be implying that McCain deserved to get shot down because he was a hotshot?

                    McCain came from a very Naval tradition military family. Both his dad and grandfathers were admirals. McCain’s dad was Commander US Pacific Command.

                    McCain did poorly at the US Naval academy even though he had a high IQ. I would characterize McCain as a privileged little snot. “Cocky” is another term. Being a pilot fits that mentality because its super dangerous to fly off carriers and possibly die from a million causes. McCain seems to have been a late bloomer to becoming an adult.

                    I also think him staying behind in the Hanoi Hilton was because his family name was on the line if he took the early offer to leave. He definitely has a brave streak because that dude endured some serious torture.

                    McCain is a war hero by any definition and yet he is a shitty politician IMO.

                  2. LC, I was not trying to get people not to like McCain – I was expressing my dislike of the man.

                    There is certainly enough evidence, quite apart from his role in bombing missions, to inform a person’s dislike of McCain.

                    As for Syria, intervention is wrong, period. My opposition to Syrian intervention stands on its own. Another words, had John McCain never lived, I would oppose Syrian intervention.

                    1. Just also seemed like you didn’t like McCain because he was a hotshot too.

                      It was weird like me saying that I don’t like Obama because he lived in Hawaii. That would be weird. There are a thousand reasons to not like Obama the politician because he made horrible decisions as president.

                    2. My dislike of McCain has nothing to do with him being a hotshot / hotdog. Heck, Top Gun’s Tom “Maverick” Cruise was a hotshot / hotdog and John McCain was no top gun.

                      There are hotshots / hotdogs whom I admire or don’t dislike.

                3. maybe a war victim, but let’s hold of on the beatification…

      2. P.S. I wonder if it occurs to people like you that I oppose Obama’s agreement with Iran for the same reason I supported Trump’s collaboration with Putin–because it’s the best way for the U.S. to avoid a catastrophic invasion of a foreign country.

  13. “What is it about the red Sonoran dust that produces Arizona senators who punch so far above their national weight?”

    2 Senators worth mentioning in 50 years. That is some magic dust. And McCain is only worth mentioning for all the wrong reasons.

    1. He is at the apex of Mt. Vile.

      What a thoroughly profligate human being.

    2. And McCain doesn’t come from or live in the Sonoran Desert.

      His place is up near Sedona. Cornville/Page Springs area IIRC.

      1. Sonoran Desert gave us Raul Grijalva.

  14. “Will McCain-style conservatism live on?

    Q2: Will Reason-style libertarianism live on?

    Answer to both: I certainly hope not.

  15. As one old enough to remember:
    I was told that if I voted for Goldwater, there would be race riots in the streets, the economy would collapse, and we would be dragged into an interminable ground was in southeast Asia.
    And yet I voted for Goldwater anyway.
    And that is exactly what happened.

    1. Funny but true
      or
      Funny because it’s true?

    2. +1 agreed

    3. I was told that if I voted for Goldwater, there would be race riots in the streets, the economy would collapse, and we would be dragged into an interminable ground was in southeast Asia.
      And yet I voted for Goldwater anyway.
      And that is exactly what happened.

      So the people who told you that were right, and it’s all your fault. /jk

  16. As a former Iowan, I take exception to McCain’s treatment of Senator Farmer:

    “Are you calling me stupid?” Grassley demanded. “No, I’m calling you a fucking jerk!” yelled McCain. Sen. Bob Kerrey later told reporters that he feared McCain was “going to head-butt Grassley and drive the cartilage in his nose into his brain.”

    Make believe Maverick

    1. Must not be doing it right – Rollingstone Make Believe Maverick story 2008.

    2. Not to start an irrelevant, off-topic sub-thread, but that whole “cartilage into the brain” myth needs to go away. It’s just ridiculous.

      1. Yup. Cartilage is floppy. You’d be driving bone into the brain, if you were driving anything into it.

      2. Speaking of cartilage, have y’all heard about a solider who is growing her own replacement ear inside her arm? Amazing medical technology.
        Soldier grows her own replacement ear inside her arm

      3. but still funny!

  17. “Jeff Flake, arguably the most Goldwaterite member of the Senate”

    That’s quite the asinine assertion. You know, just because they hate Trump doesn’t make them any good, right?

    1. Also, nice scarf Barry Manilow…er…Goldwater

      1. Both Barry boys are okay by me.

        The nasty Neo-Cohen “war hero”, not so much.

  18. If I were to go back in time and tell me in 2008 that there would be self-identified ‘libertarians’ writing apologias for John McCain I would have laughed at such a preposterous idea. But, here we are

    1. It’s like Reason’s racing McCain to the grave.

    2. Any idea where someone could find these ‘libertarians’ you have in mind? I tried to find some here but it’s mostly right-wing authoritarians prancing about in silly libertarian drag.

      1. From the Reverend whose god is Karl Marx

  19. This is the same John McCain who voted for campaign censorship laws, just to prove that, yes, he really could order the NRA to stop running those ads?

    Really, what’s to like about him except that he won’t be around much longer?

  20. McCain? The girl-bullying idiot who couldn’t even napalm women and children to death in Vietnam without doing his cameo imitation of Johnny The Human Torch? What will Matt come up with next? An ode to Mussolini and the Pope for forcing government schoolchildren to study catechism under effigies of bleeding cadavers?
    I sure miss Tibor Machan and Petr Beckmann…

  21. “Jeff Flake, arguably the most Goldwaterite member of the Senate”

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read all week.

    Every member of the Freedom Caucus is more “Goldwaterite”. Flake would be a Blue Dog Democrat if such a thing still existed. He talks less government but it’s always bullshit.

    1. FWIW, the Freedom Caucus is in the House of Representatives, not the Senate. Although I’d argue that Rand Paul and Mike Lee are both more “Goldwaterite” than Flake. About the only thing Flake has in common with Goldwater is being a Senator from Arizona.

      1. At this point Mitch McConnell is more Goldwaterite than Flake. Welch has lost his mind.

        1. At this point Mitch McConnell is more Goldwaterite than Flake.

          Let’s not go that far. Turtle McTurtlehead may be a lot of things, Goldwaterite is not one of them. Not in the least.

  22. The real burning question is once McCain dies, who’s hand goes up the ass of the Lindsey puppet?

    1. Lol – I wonder if Lindsey’s voice changes an octave when McCain dies.

  23. McCain is a selfish prick in his old age.

    He should have left the Senate to let a younger Senator get in there. McCain is going to fuck up some vote in the Senate because he has another stroke or whatever medical condition makes him a flaming non-conservative.

  24. “Sill, in most pursuits, and through his waning days, the senator has imbued his actions and words with a haughty yet self-effacing sense of patriotism and honor, most clearly on display these days with his repudiation of the “half-baked, spurious nationalism” of President Trump’s politics.”

    TDS by other means?

  25. *We’re losing Matt, Rufus!

    Rufus (moves to give CPR): MOVE! CPR about to be performed…Canadian style!

    *Matt unresponsive.

    Rufus (repeats and pounds chest): DAMN. YOU. MATT! DON’T. DIE. ON….Fuck, he’s gone.

    *Matt sits up aloofly.

    Matt: No, that was Libertarian Matt. Meet Cocktail Matt!

    I’m playing with you Matt.

  26. McCain?

    He was famous because he was captured. I hate to tell you, but I like people who weren’t captured. Okay?

    Who cares about McCain? He’s dying, anyway.

    Torture is great, and it works. That’s why we call him “Songbird John.”

    OK, that’s it, that’s it. I tried to be a conservative. It doesn’t work. I just can’t be a right-winger.

    I blame my education. And my character. And my preference for reason, tolerance, and modernity.

    Carry on, clingers.

    1. Jesus Rev, if you’re going to phone them in like that, dial 867-5309.

      1. I called that number once, and she sold me some spices. I had a good thyme.

        1. What’s better than the original version of that song?

          The punk version.

      2. Now you gave him Jenny’s number.

    2. McCain? He was famous because he was captured. I hate to tell you, but I like people who weren’t captured. Okay? Who cares about McCain? He’s dying, anyway. Torture is great, and it works. That’s why we call him “Songbird John.” OK, that’s it, that’s it. I tried to be a conservative. It doesn’t work.

      No, in fact, you were just like a liberal in the 2008 election. You forgot calling him a racist and a homophobe.

      But don’t feel bad about it: McCain really is a nasty old man, just like Clinton is a nasty old woman; politics attracts nasty people.

      1. Exactly. Once McCain lost, the media went back to acting like McCain was some threat to the lefty agenda.

        McCain is very much like Obama except he won’t admit that he is a socialist like Obama has. Oh and Obama is black.

      2. Somebody remembered to play the race card against John McCain.

        Conservatives can’t help dragging bigotry into it, whatever it is. It’s their deplorable, stale nature.

        Carry on, clingers. To irrelevance, and beyond!

  27. I was going to ask why libertarians should give a damn about the future of conservatism, then remembered that the point was directed to faux conservatives.”

    Carry on, clingers. So far as your lousy educations, bigoted souls, and gullible natures can carry you, anyway. And so far the liberal-libertarian mainstream lets you go.

    1. Lousy education = public education + Ivy degree.

      1. your math is off, public education + Ivy degree = recto-cranial inversion

        1. You guys stick with Regent, Liberty, and Backwater Baptist (also known as Ouachita Baptist).

          Thank you.

  28. “choosing not to invite President Donald Trump to his funeral”

    If you don’t invite people to your funeral…

    (setup to old joke)

  29. If McCain had a consistent “vision” or an “ideology”, he never managed to articulate it. As far as I can tell, McCain has always been just a vain, selfish, incompetent man who got by on his personal relationships and war-time publicity. His presidential campaign was an embarrassment and disaster, losing to an inexperienced community organizer in a landslide, as is his ungracious behavior towards Palin. And true to form, McCain didn’t retire with dignity but has been determined to stay in the spotlight until the very end no matter the cost.

    1. McCain was actually tortured but supported the USA torturing people.

      McCain saw and experienced the horrors of war but was fine with easily sending Americans to their deaths.

      McCain is just a horrible politician who is clearly not a conservative.

  30. You mean will not-at-all conservative survive?

    Sure.

    1. “Sure.”

      Don’t you mean ‘Youbetcha?’

      It was only thanks to Juan McShamnesty that Sarah Palin and trigger et al came into my life.

      1. It’s only thanks to Palin that McCain got above 40% of the vote. Without her and it would’ve been a legendarily bad popular and electoral vote blowout.

        1. What’s the ratio of unplanned pregnancies and arrests to college degrees among the Palin children?

          (Asking for someone who is considering the merits of conservative “traditional values” parenting.)

          1. What’s the ratio of reverends sodomizing young boys and abortions?

          2. What’s the ratio of unplanned pregnancies and arrests to college degrees among the Palin children?

            Who killed more people :The Palins or Kennedys?

            Who raped more people: Palins or Kennedys?

  31. McCain is the guy who was quoted as saying Hillary Clinton would make a good President.

  32. Considering I used to be a conservative, and I used to be quite involved with discussing what it entails, I’m trying to recall if anyone who called themselves “conservative” said they thought McCain was a conservative.

    I’m coming up blank. He’s a Republican, I guess, but calling him a “conservative” seems like violence to the language.

    1. or just blatant ass hattery!

    2. He is not a conservative, from what I see he is just a weasel like many politicians that lie when running and then doing whatever he pleases when in office. He believes in self over country and that was proved when he gave the deciding vote on the Obamacare repeal. He just wanted to stab Trump in the back and when he got the chance he did it.

      1. A libertarian would find lack of conservatism to be an unalloyed positive.

  33. America has not invaded enough countries…

    ..howz about Canada and Mexico?

  34. “The Song Bird of Hanoi”: His actions prove that torture works, but he’s not willing to approve Trump’s CIA nominee because she took part in government-sanctioned waterboarding

  35. Not sure McCain has a coherent philosophy, other than hawkishness. Other than that he seems to divide politics into friends and enemies. He supports his friends, defies his enemies. Right now Trump is an enemy.

  36. Not sure McCain has a coherent philosophy, other than hawkishness. Other than that he seems to divide politics into friends and enemies. He supports his friends, defies his enemies. Right now Trump is an enemy.

  37. Not sure McCain has a coherent philosophy, other than hawkishness. Other than that he seems to divide politics into friends and enemies. He supports his friends, defies his enemies. Right now Trump is an enemy.

  38. Not sure McCain has a coherent philosophy, other than hawkishness. Other than that he seems to divide politics into friends and enemies. He supports his friends, defies his enemies. Right now Trump is an enemy.

  39. Not sure McCain has a coherent philosophy, other than hawkishness. Other than that he seems to divide politics into friends and enemies. He supports his friends, defies his enemies. Right now Trump is an enemy.

  40. McCain style “conservatism” was based on importing cheap labor to expand the welfare state. Since when is that “conservatism”? McCain style “conservatism” was based on endless foreign wars based on the assumption that “the entire world will be just like Kansas if we send enough troops”. Since when is that “conservatism”? McCain style “conservatism” was based on tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations financed by ever larger deficits. Since when is that “conservatism”?

    McCain was not a conservatism. He was a member (in good standing) of the elitist, cosmopolitan plutocracy (right of center branch). That’s not conservatism.

  41. 051218, [un] reason.com Schaffer article trying to white wash the Hate America to destruction political life and career of Manchurian McCain.

    wrong on all counts, [un] reason.comas usual…

    everyone knows he’s your life long collectivist toady – see MM’s historic record.

    Please stop trying to whitewash MM as if MM were, even vaguely, a person who had the slightest affection for America except to advance his collectivist intentions to use ‘stupid ‘Kommunism’ to drive America into ruin.

    He’s called Manchurian MacCain for logical reasons, you know… since he arrived on the political scene Everyone with a brain bigger than a pea has known, knows, that MM is a lifelong ‘Hate America to Destruction’ through applying ‘stupid ‘Kommunist’ social justice victimology conversion : redefinition priciples.

    The only thing he has ever does : has done is attempt to supplant America’s Government by Law Constitutional Republic with his : their [obsolete : defunct] soviet constitution as part and parcel of the Hate America to Destruction Politi’Kal ‘Klass’s drive to reduce and subject America to destruction through the application of their beloved, never fails to destroy every country it gets political hold of, ‘stupid ‘Kommunist’ social justice victimology dogmas.

  42. McCain spends a lot of time pissing into the wind. After reading his article in today’s WSJ, I am convinced he has gone completely off the deep end. He seems to be fixated on making Trump look bad, no matter how stupid his actions may be and is even proudly defiant, saying anyone who does not approve of his nearly traitorous actions in spreading rumors created by the Dems to hurt Trump can go to hell! He seems to have lost all semblance of a patriot and never was a conservative, much less a libertarian.

  43. To bad the writers here at reason.com gush so much, it’s amateurish and embarrassing, and pulls the rug out of their agenda. They’d be more convincing to state the facts more objectively and let them make the point themselves. I don’t like reading “news” articles that sound like press releases. Maybe they should hire writers who have studied journalism.

  44. After McCain called so much of America “hobbits” I can only say if he’s a conservative, then the pope might as well put Jim Jones forward for beatification. This asshole knew he had a serious health problem and ran for re-election anyway. Now, he is “incapacitated” in performing his senatorial duties, but has time to crank out books? He’s everything wrong with politics, especially after fighting a full decade to degrade our political system with so called ‘campaign finance reform’. He doesn’t have a decent bone in his body or he would have resigned last year.
    I know the knee jerkers will conflate his military service with his senatorial service, so some gentle advice: nobody serves in the military and public office simultaneously.
    The senate will work a whole lot better when his office is removed from him.

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