Type to search

Making A Fetish Of John McCain

Featured Post Memo Pad

Making A Fetish Of John McCain

Share
McCain

Its futility makes me so weary it’s hard to type the question, but I’ll type it anyway: Why do the elite Washington media, especially the influential Sunday morning shows, continue to pay deference to, and take seriously, the opinions of John McCain?

Put another way: What would it take for the elite Washington media to reconsider their fealty to McCain? What would the Arizona senator have to do to disqualify himself as the authoritative voice on national security issues, military affairs, and patriotism?

I don’t mean to suggest that McCain would have to do something disreputable, like commit a crime. But if I were a producer for one of the broadcast TV shows, like Meet the Press, I’d ask myself: Does the man whose reputation rests on his dedication to duty, honor, and sacrifice deserve such a reputation in light of recent moves to privilege the Republican Party over the United States?

Before I go on, please note this complaint of mine is just one of many — many! — complaints among media watchers. Paul Waldman, over at The American Prospect, has kvetched for years about McCain’s “mavericky maverickness.” He wrote an entire book about it. So don’t take my complaint as new or even influential. My aim is to note merely how this latest episode is a clear example of McCain’s long con on the media. It illuminates his using the veil of patriotism to shroud what is plainly partisan politics.

What episode? You already know. McCain was one of 47 U.S. senators, led by Tom Cotton of Arkansas, to sign a letter to the Iranian government, saying any deal over its nuclear program with the current President of the United States could be — and, by implication, would be — nullified by the election of a Republican president. In other words, the man who represents the United States to the world is not really the man who represents the United States to the world, because he belongs to the wrong party.

This was further complicated when McCain publicly called into question the credibility of Secretary of State John Kerry after news broke of an agreement between the nations over the framework of a nuclear deal. And there’s more! McCain said he trusted the judgment of Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, over Kerry’s. Clearly, the enemy of his enemy is his friend.

This is in keeping with the regular habit of his fellow Republicans to elevate the interests of party over the interests of country, as Slate‘s William Saletan minutely detailed in an article titled “Why Do Republicans Keep Siding With America’s Enemies?”

I’d add only a representative remark by presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. He recently advised any young person desiring to serve her country in the armed forces to wait until 2017. Why? Because Barack Obama is not a Republican.

“Wait a couple of years until we get a new commander in chief that will once again believe ‘One Nation under God,’ and believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing this country, but defending this country,” he said.

You might say: Well, McCain signed the letter only because his party wanted him to. That’s not the real John McCain. The real John McCain is an independent voice, a bipartisan figure who often challenges his party. In other words, a maverick.

McCain did memorably use the term “wacko birds” in 2013 to describe Senate Republicans like Rand Paul who were carping about the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. (Paul didn’t like that Obama’s drone policy was Brennan’s brainchild.) And indeed, McCain might place Huckabee in the same “wacko bird” category.

But if McCain’s voting record is any indication — truly, it is the only indicator of a U.S. senator’s character that matters — McCain sides with the Republican Party’s “wacko birds” almost uniformly. And if he sides with the wacko birds almost uniformly, then there’s no significant difference between McCain and the wacko birds.

You might also say: Come on. The real John McCain isn’t a wacko bird. OK, I say, then the real one is feckless. According to Politico‘s Burgess Everett, McCain signed the letter without much thought. “It was kind of a very rapid process,” he said. “Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm. I think we probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is.”

In other words, he only did what his party asked of him.

In other words, John McCain is a Republican partisan.

How, then, we do understand the Washington media’s universal portrayal of John McCain as a “maverick”? Waldman says it comes from mastering the art of flattery. McCain, he says, “spent a couple of decades massaging their egos and convincing them that he was their best buddy, an investment that paid off splendidly.”

I don’t doubt it, but I’d add another perspective.

John McCain, I suspect, might be better understood as a metaphor, as a mental projection of what the elite Washington media believes a man dedicated to duty, honor, and sacrifice would look like. And John McCain, knowing that few journalists personally know anyone who served in the military, much less saw mortal combat or, like him, experienced life as a prisoner of war, exploited that mental projection to the hilt. These same journalists, I would guess, are as awed by his biography as they are by anyone who can pull the levers of power in Washington. Put it together, and you have not so much a human being as a fetish: a there that isn’t there.

Given the state of the Washington media, I suppose a fetish is as good a reason for John McCain’s ubiquity as any other. As I said, nothing is going to change. Just asking why anyone takes him seriously is exhausting. And for that reason, I’ll stop asking.

John Stoehr is the managing editor of The Washington Spectator. Follow him @johnastoehr.

Photo: Marc Nozell via Flickr

Tags:

23 Comments

  1. Theodora30 May 1, 2015

    McCain is part of the Beltway Insider’s Club. Once you are in with that crowd not much gets you drummed out.

    Reply
  2. Patricia May 1, 2015

    Being tied up for five years makes you an expert…in…knots?

    Reply
  3. johninPCFL May 1, 2015

    Contrast McCain with Bob Dole – both patriots. They differ broadly in that Dole never flinched about doing what was best for the country, whether he benefited politically or not.

    Not so with McCain. He looks out for John first, then the country. Selecting Palin was ALL about the election, with zero thought about putting a “wacko bird”, end-times true-believer inches away from the nukes.

    Reply
  4. elw May 1, 2015

    John McCain Is like a “crazy uncle” who everyone loves but is afraid he will show up for the family gathering and when he actually does everyone just smiles and shakes their head no matter what he says and changes the subject of the conversation.

    Reply
  5. Irishgrammy May 1, 2015

    I often think there once was a very short window in time for McCain where he might have been a much better person/politician, but that window disappeared almost immediately due to his own “issues” with poor judgment, anger and resentment and an almost obsessive need for attention and recognition. And it’s been a down hill slide ever since. I completely agree with John Stoehr, I do not understand why the media constantly plays to this man’s ego and incessant need to be in front of a camera barking out his insults and partisan opinions. He is without a doubt a bitter, angry man, who frankly, has not addressed his own issues, that to this day as far as I am concerned, exist from his days in the Hanoi Hilton! Any former military man who is and remains as excited to go into wars as McCain is, has not learned the real price and cost of war, period. I do not know any truly respected former military man/woman who feel every avenue to avert going to war is far more desirable than doing what McCain has done forever, being a cheerleader for any and every opportunity to place our military in harms way, to my count at least 13 to 14 countries at this point, as his first on only choice. Insane!

    Reply
    1. Dominick Vila May 2, 2015

      The media pays attention to people like McCain, Cruz, Huckabee, Santorum, and others because legitimate journalism does not sell. It is all about advancing the interests of special interests and market share, rather than substance.

      1. mike May 2, 2015

        So NYT and WP are advancing the special interest and market shares by exposing Hillary, and the Clinton Foundation for their miscues and has nothing to do with Clinton deception. Interesting!!

        1. Dominick Vila May 3, 2015

          Our media, in general, is owned by moguls whose only interest is to influence public opinion for political gain, and make a profit while they are at it by focusing on sensationalism and negativism, without ever challenging charlatans. The Clinton foundation, like every charitable institution, depends on donations to function. There is nothing deceptive with the work they have been doing in Haiti, and in African and Latin American countries.
          Instead of a lame attack against a charitable institution that should make us proud, consider the work, and tax exempt status, of political organizations such as Citizens United, whose only purpose in life is to by politicians, and influence public opinion for political gain.

          1. mike May 3, 2015

            The Clinton Foundation did do great work at the beginning like the hundred of millions of dollars in pharmaceutical distributed but lately has gone in the other direction.
            How can an organization deliberately not report millions of dollars on the IRS 990 form for the years 2010,2011,2012 from foreign govts. They reported zero dollars in those years. In 2013 only 10 percent of donations was spent on charitable endeavors.

            This was not reported by some right wing organization but by Reuters

            Only you could call what outside sources are proving to be true “lame attacks”.

            http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/clinton-foundation-bill-hillary-chelsea-117505.html

            Between 2009 and 2012, The Federalist reported that the Clinton Foundation raised more than $500 million dollars according to its IRS filings. 15% of that, or $75 million, went toward charitable grants. More than $25 million was spent on travel. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits. Nearly 60%, or $290 million, was spent on “other expenses”.[3] Charitable grants are not a major focus of the Clinton Foundation, which instead keeps most of its money in house and hires staff to carry out its own humanitarian programs.[4] In March 2015, Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog, put the Clinton Foundation on its “CN Watchlist” which is done when the organization becomes aware of conduct that may affect a donor’s decision to support that charity.[5][6] On February 18, 2015, The Washington Post reported that, “the foundation has won accolades from philanthropy experts and has drawn bipartisan support, with members of the George W. Bush administration often participating in its programs.” [7] Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, said, “It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons.”[5] In March 2015, Reuters reported that the Clinton Foundation had broken its promise to publish all of its donors, as well as its promise to let the State Department review all of its donations from foreign governments.[8] In April 2015, the New York Times reported that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the State Department had approved a deal to sell American uranium to Russians who had donated to the Clinton Foundation, and that Clinton had broken her promise to publicly identify such donations.[

            They play by their own rules, they are liars, they are as despicable as they come and only you secular progressives think they are great.

          2. mike May 3, 2015

            What is wrong with you?? No need to answer, we all know you on the left will do and say anything to get Hillary Coronated President. CF has to go back 5 years with their IRS filings and resubmit and you think the site you are gave has on ounce of creditability.
            They left out for 3 straight years foreign govt. donations on the 990 form, it was no accident. They are spending more on expenses that charities. Give me a break!!
            http://www.clintonfoundation what a joke!!

            Between 2009 and 2012, The Federalist reported that the Clinton
            Foundation raised more than $500 million dollars according to its IRS
            filings. 15% of that, or $75 million, went toward charitable grants.
            More than $25 million was spent on travel. Nearly $110 million went
            toward employee salaries and benefits. Nearly 60%, or $290 million, was
            spent on “other expenses”.[3] Charitable grants are not a major focus of
            the Clinton Foundation, which instead keeps most of its money in house
            and hires staff to carry out its own humanitarian programs.[4] In March
            2015, Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog, put the Clinton Foundation
            on its “CN Watchlist” which is done when the organization becomes aware
            of conduct that may affect a donor’s decision to support that
            charity.[5][6] On February 18, 2015, The Washington Post reported that,
            “the foundation has won accolades from philanthropy experts and has
            drawn bipartisan support, with members of the George W. Bush
            administration often participating in its programs.” [7] Bill Allison, a
            senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, said, “It seems like the
            Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons.”[5] In
            March 2015, Reuters reported that the Clinton Foundation had broken its
            promise to publish all of its donors, as well as its promise to let the
            State Department review all of its donations from foreign
            governments.[8] In April 2015, the New York Times reported that when
            Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the State Department had
            approved a deal to sell American uranium to Russians who had donated to
            the Clinton Foundation, and that Clinton had broken her promise to
            publicly identify such donations.[

            As more comes out she will have even more to try and explain. For a supposedly a smart women she continues to do dumb things. She really is a poor campaigner!! She hids from the press because she knows her lies can’t be explained away.

          3. Dominick Vila May 3, 2015

            What you are either ignoring, or omitting, is that charitable grants (15%), are just part of what the Clinton Foundation is doing. Most of the donations are spent on various types of initiatives (CCI, CDI, etc) that require physical assistance or involvement by foundation employees.
            Looks like after four years of Benghazi, with little to show for it, the GOP is moving to the next engineered Clinton “scandal”. Good luck!

          4. mike May 3, 2015

            I haven’t ignored anything. Quit trying to change the subject, only 15% or 75 million out of 500 million was spent on grants.

            25 million went to travel, 110 million went to salaries and benefits, another 290 million went to other expenses. Go look at 2013 on 10% when to charity the rest were office expenses.

            http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/23/us-usa-election-clinton-taxes-exclusive-idUSKBN0NE0CA20150423

            http://nypost.com/2015/04/26/charity-watchdog-clinton-foundation-a-slush-fund/

          5. Dominick Vila May 4, 2015

            The “other expenses” involve what charitable institutions do. One of the core elements of most charitable institutions involve initiatives such as educating people in Third World countries, trying to eradicate malnutrition and diseases such as malaria, polio, tuberculosis, and the HIV virus, drilling water wells in places where there is none and people have to go to a public water fountain several kilometers away to get the water they need to subsist. Initiatives such as those are not fought with charitable grants, thank Goodness, they require professionals who either work for a foundation, or a funded by a foundation, to travel and do the work needed to mitigate those circumstances.
            Obviously, for people like you, and lazy journalists who don’t bother to research before publishing stupid articles that do not reflect the truth, and that ignore what charitable foundations do, what the Clinton Foundation is doing is evidence of wrongdoing, something truly evil, that confirms all your suspicions. Fortunately, it should not take long before you end up with egg on your face on this one.

          6. mike May 4, 2015

            Dom, you can’t change the facts that they have been caught lying about the numbers for 3 straight years, spent more on other expenses than on charitable projects, having to resubmit tax returns for the last 5 years.
            No, the laziness is all yours and your inability to face the facts.
            I will take NYT’s, WP, Reuters, Sun Light Foundation, etc. over your opinion any day any time. Yours is the dishonesty of ideologue.
            They are liars!!

          7. Dominick Vila May 4, 2015

            If you read the articles you provided carefully, you will note that it mentions “initiatives” and travel, two essential components in what most charitable institutions do to provide their services. You focus on one item, charitable grants, to make a dishonest claim and to impress the naive, ignoring the evidence you provided. Foundations, like corporations, re-file frequently, as new evidence becomes available. That does not mean wrongdoing. Quite often they re-file when they become aware that they are eligible for greater tax returns or, in the case of charity, greater credits.

          8. mike May 4, 2015

            Keep trying, Dom.
            Dom, to leave off donations from foreign govt. for three years in a row is no accident. Travel expenses in the millions of dollars each year. It is the Clinton slush fund.
            Give it up, too many organizations have looked into their 990’s and if there was nothing there they would acknowledge and move on. But they aren’t.

            You are much like the Clinton’s, you will lie to try and make your point.

          9. Dominick Vila May 4, 2015

            Until evidence is provided, the only thing you have to prove wrongdoing are conclusions or claims by journalists and Hillary’s opponents.

          10. mike May 4, 2015

            They have had to resubmit their taxes for 5 years, three of those years they did not report foreign donations, how can a charity not report donations for three straight years?? This was not an accident this was done on purpose to coverup donations they were not authorized to take in(not Ok’d by state depart) and as usual the Clinton MO.
            As to you, you are still a dishonest ideologue, you would rather lie, change the subject or ignore than admit the possibility of some impropriety.

          11. Dominick Vila May 4, 2015

            Your beloved Reuters source said that the errors, which include both under and over reporting, are not evidence of deliberate wrongdoing. BTW, there is nothing illegal or wrong with American charities accepting foreign donations.
            http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/04/23/clinton-charities-reportedly-will-refile-tax-returns-due-to-foreign-donation/

          12. mike May 4, 2015

            Like I said, you will lie and distort to make your point. I know you can explain why there were ZERO donations showing on the 990’s for three straight years.
            The Clinton’s had an agreement while Hillary was in state department that all foreign donations would be approved by state department. None were!!
            You are one corrupt person.

  6. highpckts May 2, 2015

    John McCain is NOT some kind of hero! He was and still is reckless! He along with a lot of others were prisoners of war so what makes him so special? His Dad bailed him out more than once in his career! He still acts like he is owed something. Certainly not respect anymore!!

    Reply
    1. Charlotte Sines May 2, 2015

      Respect has to be earned. It is not given away like a door prize. McCain needs to go out that door and never return because he will never earn the respect he craves. He has changed his mind on too many issues.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.