John McCain’s sad, bitter twilight
FEB 2, 2013
[quote]The senator's contempt for Chuck Hagel in Thursday's confirmation hearing was all about the guy who nominated him
“That one,” John McCain famously snarled in a presidential debate four years ago, referring to his opponent, who was a quarter of a century younger than McCain and who had been in the Senate 3 years to McCain’s 20. It’s difficult to imagine a better revelation of the McCain psyche than that moment, but if there is one, then it came yesterday at the meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee, convened to consider the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. The McCain fury is something to behold, almost irresistible for how unvarnished it is in all its forms. In the instance of the 2008 debate, McCain’s dumbfounded antipathy had to do with facing an opponent he so clearly considered unworthy. In the instance of the hearing yesterday, McCain’s bitter blast was at somebody who once was among his closest friends, a former Vietnam warrior and fellow Republican of a similarly independent ilk who supported McCain’s first run for the presidency in 2000 against George W. Bush but then appeared to abandon the Arizona senator eight years later.
If all this suggests political differences born largely of personal dynamics and their breach, it’s because for McCain the two are interchangeable. At this moment, we should make the effort to remind ourselves of what’s commendable about McCain, an admiral’s son who could only live up to his father’s reputation by way of five years in a Hanoi jail, where he walked — or hobbled, given the crippling abuse he suffered at the hands of his captors — the walk of loyalty and didn’t just talk it. When offered freedom halfway through those five years, he refused to leave behind his fellow prisoners of war who had been there longer and were due their freedom first. It’s a story so formidable that 12 years ago Bush supporters resorted to suggesting McCain was a “Hanoi Candidate,” brainwashed in the manner of cinematic Manchurians. So let’s not question McCain’s courage, or a code that means as much to him as patriotism. In that initial presidential run, admiration for the man trumped what disagreements overly romantic voters like myself had when it came time to mark his name on our ballots (as I did in that year’s California primary).
In the time since, two things have happened to McCain. One was the Iraq War, the worst American foreign policy blunder of the post–World War II era, which McCain wholeheartedly supported from the beginning and about which he’s never intimated a second thought. The other was Barack Obama, electoral politics’ upstart lieutenant whose bid to become five-star general, bypassing stops along the way at captain, major and colonel, wasn’t just temerity to a man who waited his turn to be released from prison, but insubordination. Those two things converged yesterday in McCain’s prosecution of Hagel, no less sorry a spectacle on McCain’s part for the fact that Hagel handled it so unimpressively. Perhaps Hagel was startled, figuring his one-time compatriot would be tough but not vicious. If that’s the case, then he never knew McCain as well as he thought or hoped, because if he did then he would know that McCain is a man of grudges. In his memoir “Faith of My Fathers,” in which words like “gallantry” appear without embarrassment (and which no one has more earned the right to use), McCain himself acknowledges being the congenital hothead of legend who’s nearly come to blows with colleagues. Half a century later, he recalls every altercation with every Naval Academy classmate; as a child, rage sometimes drove him to hold his breath until he blacked out. No need to indulge in untrained psychotherapy from afar to surmise that the ability to nurse such a grudge may be what gets you through half a decade of cruel incarceration.
At any rate, what happened yesterday wasn’t about Hagel at all. It wasn’t even about the Iraq War’s 2007 “surge,” which McCain is desperate to justify because he can never justify the war itself, which finds Hagel moved to the right side of history while McCain remains stubbornly on the wrong. It’s about that junior senator from Illinois who crossed McCain early in some obscure backroom Senate deal no one can remember anymore, then denied McCain the presidency in no small part because Obama understood the folly of Iraq better than McCain can allow himself to. McCain’s personal honor in Hanoi was too hard won to be stained now by almost anything he does, including how he’s allowed temperament, pique and ego to steamroll the judgment and perspective that we hope all of our elected officers have, let alone presidents. But his political honor, not to mention whatever might once have recommended him to the presidency, has fallen victim to the way that Obama has gotten fatally under his skin. Even if this once-noble statesman should succeed in denying Hagel’s nomination as he denied Susan Rice’s prospects for Secretary of State (and even the most devout Hagel supporter would have to acknowledge that the Defense nominee’s performance before the Committee was often a shambles), McCain’s unrelenting obsession with the grievance that Obama has come to represent to him is the saddest legacy in memory. The very fact of Obama and all things Obamic has turned McCain into something toxic, maybe even to himself.
- He's an asshole.
- Which is true of all Republicans from Arizona, R2.
- When he snarled "That one" at the debate, was it a cover for actually forgetting the name?
At the 2008 debates he was exhibiting signs of dementia brought on by the grueling campaign schedule. Recall how he just started aimlessly wandering around the stage at one debate. They later mocked him for that on SNL and it got big laughs, but he was totally out of it that night.
A few years after he's dead, watch for someone on his staff to write a book revealing the problems with his dementia.
- R4 - at least we dodged a bullet and didn't elect him President.
- We dodged two bullets. He probably wouldn't have lasted four years under the pressure of the Oval Office and we would would have had the bitch from Alaska in the White House.
- I'm with R4 - McCain is such a completely different guy than the one who lost the 2000 primary to George W. Definitely something more going on there.
- Well, I'll say this for him, he can out HISS any eldergay on DL any day of the week.
- Early-onset Alzheimers.
- R6 - I agree. He would not have survived the pressures of being President, and we would have had Palin. Though she probably would have quit.
- McCain is a sorry piece of shit. He couldn't even fly a military plane with guns and rockets. I bet the old bastard is still using his Hanoi Hilton points when he travels. I hope Ho Chi Minh is roasting in hell for not have killed this wretched fuck. His Daddy may have been an admiral, but he's just an engine room wiper to me.
- Hagel hates Jews. Fuck him.
- Hey, fuck you R11!
- Hagel doesn't hate all Jews, neither do I, but some Jews make me vomit and I'm a Jew.
What kind of cheap shot are you taking r12?
- The incompetent McCain cost the American taxpayers a fortune. First he crashed a multimillion dollar aircraft and then he became a suckling pig in the senate.
- [quote]In his memoir “Faith of My Fathers,” in which words like “gallantry” appear without embarrassment (and which no one has more earned the right to use)
A gallant man does not cheat on his crippled wife.
- Your an asshole R14
- McCain is still more of a progressive than Hagel.
- I think John McCain lost 5 Navy planes over all.
- [quote]A gallant man does not cheat on his crippled wife.
More than that, a Navy man does not cheat on his wife. To this day, the Navy still has rules on the books for adultery. A Navy officer does not date a junior officer in his command. That's a major offense.
Since he was an ex-POW, they let this scummy a-hole slide when he should have been kicked out.
- This shit is aging me.
- [quote]McCain is still more of a progressive than Hagel.
- [quote]At the 2008 debates he was exhibiting signs of dementia
This is all just supposition, to be honest. McCain was easily re-elected to another Senate term in 2010, and he doesn't look like he's going anywhere. His mother is 100 years old, and he's got good longevity.
He may even run for another term in a few years since he is 'only' in his 70's as opposed to those Senators who have stayed in to their 80's and 90's.
- Norns, witches, or bitchy old impotent queens?
- John McCain was the son of an Admiral and the grandson of an Admiral. Now he certainly got away with alot of stuff that would have snuffed out any other Navy pilot. But he paid for that parentage as a pow. Double sword kind of thing.
The grandfather killed himself a couple days after the Japanese surrendered. I guess he could not see himself in a world without war. I think that says a lot.
- McCain's unimpressive flying record at link.
- From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals. McCain's sense of entitlement to privileged treatment bears an eerie resemblance to George W. Bush's.
Despite graduating in the bottom 1 percent of his Annapolis class, McCain was offered the most sought-after Navy assignment -- to become an aircraft carrier pilot.
According to military historian John Karaagac, "'the Airedales,' the air wing of the Navy, acted and still do, as if unrivaled atop the naval pyramid. They acted as if they owned, not only the Navy, but the entire swath of blue water on the earth's surface." The most accomplished midshipmen compete furiously for the few carrier pilot openings. After four abysmal academic years at Annapolis distinguished, according to his own books, by mediocrity and misdeeds, no one with a record resembling McCain's would have been offered such a prized career path. The justification for this and subsequent plum assignments should be documented in McCain's naval file.
McCain's file should also include records and analytic reviews of McCain's subsequent sub-par performances. Here are a few cited in two highly favorable biographies, both titled John McCain, one by Robert Timberg and the other by John Karaagac.
[quote]after a European fling with the tobacco heiress, John McCain reported to flight school at Pensacola in August 1958.... [H]is performance was below par, at best good enough to get by. He liked flying, but didn't love it. What he loved was the kick-the-tire, start-the-fire, scarf-in-the-wind life of a naval aviator. ...One Saturday morning, as McCain was practicing landings, his engine quit and his plane plunged into Corpus Christi. Knocked unconscious by the impact, he came to as the plane settled to the bottom....McCain was an adequate pilot, but he had no patience for studying dry aviation manuals.... His professional growth, though reasonably steady, had its troubled moments. Flying too low over the Iberian Peninsula, he took out some power lines, which led to a spate of newspaper stories in which he was predictably identified as the son of an admiral.... [In 1965] he flew a trainer solo to Philadelphia for the Army-Navy game. Flying by way of Norfolk, he had just begun his descent over unpopulated tidal terrain when the engine died. 'I've got a flameout,' he radioed. He went through the standard relight procedures three times. At one thousand feet he ejected, landing on the deserted beach moments before the plane slammed into a clump of trees.
[quote]In his memoir, everything becomes a kind of game of adolescent brinksmanship, how much can one press the limits of the acceptable and elude the powers that be....The [fighter jocks'] ethos of exaggerated, almost aggressive sociability becomes an end in itself and an excuse for license. There is a tendency for people, not simply to believe their own mythology but, indeed, to exaggerate it.... Fighter jocks, like politicians around their campaign contributions, often press the limits of the acceptable. It is a type of mild corruption that takes place in a highly privileged atmosphere, where restraints are loosened and excuses made....McCain gives some hint in his memoirs about where he stood in the hierarchy among carrier flyers. Instead of the sleek and newer Phantoms and Crusaders, McCain flew the dependable Douglas A-4 Skyhawk in an attack, not a fighter squadron. He was thus on the lower end of the flying totem pole.
The genius of McCain's mythmaking is his perceived humility amid perpetual defiance. Having been a rebel without cause, and often a rebel without consequences, McCain apparently was not surprised when his Vietnamese captors went relatively easy on him compared to his fellow POWs.
The Vietnamese military secretly and frequently filmed the American POWs to learn their propensities. Col. Pham Van Hoa of the Vietnamese People's Army Film Department was in charge of the filming. Asked recently for his dominant impression of McCain, the now-retired Van Hoa said that McCain "seemed superior to other prisoners." How so? "Superior in attitude towards them."
But when Mark Salter, McCain's closest aide and co-author, was asked by the Arizona New Times about the first McCain memoir, "Faith of My Fathers," that he was then working on, Salter said the book would showcase a humble McCain. When I worked on this book with him, he just kept saying, "Other guys had it a lot worse. I think they took it easier on me because of who my dad was. . . . When they tied me in ropes, they'd roll my sleeve up to give it a little padding between the rope and my bicep, you know, little things I noticed. The only really hard time I had was when I didn't go home, and then it only lasted a week, and sometimes I felt braver, I felt I could get away with more.'"
Is McCain now getting away with more by hiding his official history and by having his national security adviser inflate McCain's resume with a bogus promotion to admiral humbly declined? If so, McCain may be attempting to hide why the Navy was in fact slow to promote him upwards despite his suffering as a POW and his distinguished naval heritage.
One possible reason: After McCain had returned from Vietnam as a war hero and was physically rehabilitated, he was urged by his medical caretakers and military colleagues never to fly again. But McCain insisted on going up. As Carl Bernstein reported in Vanity Fair, he piloted an ultra-light, single propeller plane -- and crashed another time. His fifth loss of a plane has vanished from public records, but should be a subject of discussion in his Navy file. It wouldn't be surprising if his naval superiors worried that McCain was just too defiant, too reckless and too crash prone.
Regardless, McCain owes it to the country to release his complete naval records so that American voters can see his documented history and make an informed decision.
- R26, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos.
- What's the deal with John McCain and Lindsey Graham? Graham follows him everywhere and seems to look up to him as a mentor. It's died off a little bit lately, but it was most noticeable in 2008 - Graham would follow McCain everywhere through the halls of Congress as part of his entourage.
- from 2008--
If anyone else called him “little jerk,” Sen. Lindsey Graham might be offended.
But the jab comes from Sen. John McCain, so he wears it like a badge of honor.
“If John’s not belittling you, you’re in trouble,” Graham said. “He calls me lots of other names, too, but they’re not appropriate for the newspaper.”
McCain and Graham aren’t just friends. They’re inseparable, so much so that colleagues, staffers and journalists have begun making cracks about the relationship between the freshman senator from South Carolina and the man who would be president.
Some call Graham a lapdog. Others say he acts as though he’s one of McCain’s legislative aides. One Senate aide, who called Graham and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) “Pips” to McCain’s Gladys Knight, said that Graham “fawns over McCain like there’s no tomorrow.” In the run-up to this week’s hearings for Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, The Washington Post’s Tom Ricks said Graham “sometimes seems like McCain’s ‘Mini-Me.’
“I think it’s almost a father-son relationship,” said Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), a friend of both senators and another member of their Senate clique. “I think Lindsey looks to [McCain] and relies on him. But I think John draws on Lindsey’s energy and relies on him for a laugh.”
McCain spokeswoman Melissa Shuffield said the two senators “have the kind of friendship that will outlast their political careers.”
The two have grown so close that a Fox News anchor felt compelled to ask Graham last week if he might be McCain’s running mate — a suggestion Graham laughed off by saying that McCain “doesn’t have anything I want or need.”
That’s not exactly true. As Graham himself admits, his close relationship with McCain affords him opportunities and access that most neophyte senators don’t usually enjoy — as long as he’s willing to put up with the abuse that goes along with it all.
Tuesday morning was typical. As a curtain raiser for Petraeus’ appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain, Graham and Lieberman appeared together outside the Capitol at an event organized by Veterans for Freedom.
The TV cameras turned out to catch the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, but Graham got some of the attention and a bit of the ribbing. “Lindsey Graham was a colonel — that’s the good news,” McCain told the crowd. “He’s also a lawyer — that’s the bad news.”
[more at link]
- ANd a closet queen. That's the real news.
- Looky here...what's going on with the children of Republican politicians? Someone should make a thread...
- Daughter getting married.
To a White boy.
- Jack McCain gets married]
CAITLIN MCDEVITT | 6/3/13 11:14 AM EDT
Sen. John McCain’s son Jack tied the knot over the weekend.
Jack, a Navy pilot stationed in Guam, married Renee Swift, a captain in the Air Force Reserve, in San Francisco on Saturday, according to the senator’s office.
The ceremony took place at Grace Cathedral with a reception following at the California Academy of Sciences.
- Not content to be 100% wrong about Iraq and the Middle East, Mccain is raring to go to war in Syria
McCain will be remembered fondly in history as a crackpot crank who was ALWAYS WRONG about everything
- R22, I saw a picture of you last week. It's making you fat too
- First Boehner's daughter, now McCain's son?
- [quote]At the 2008 debates he was exhibiting signs of dementia
I agree. And just as it took more than a decade to reveal that Ronald Reagan had dementia while still in the White House, it will be a few more decades before this fact about McCain gets published.
- he cheated on his wife? when? who?
- John McCain is thought of as a war hero and patriot. He is one of the most skillful politicians in human history, which is the reason he is thought of as a war hero and patriot.
Ultimately, though, his political skill will no longer shade his reputation, and history will record him as the man who made a career out of crying out, "Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn!"
- When he returned to the Navy after his time as a POW, he was stationed at a Naval Air facility in Jacksonville, Florida. He began dating a junior officer on his staff. He was still married at the time.
That marks him up for two MAJOR offenses in the Navy:
2. Dating a junior officer on your staff
Since he was the son of an Admiral and got POW points, he didn't get kicked out of the Navy.
About two weeks ago there was an NPR story about a high-ranking officer at the Pentagon who is getting kicked out for adultery. It still is considered a serious offense.
- The Bangladeshi kid looks like "Precious" these days
- r44, thanks for the info. I don't judge him. He's human.
- [quote]I don't judge him. He's human.
Do you also not judge serial killers and bank robbers since they're human?
- R47, yes, i don't judge them either.