[FoRK] Challenge for McCain critics

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Thu Aug 28 18:27:19 PDT 2008

On Aug 28, 2008, at 7:59 PM, Luis Villa wrote:

>> By affiliated with, I meant *belongs to the club, drinks the
>> kool-aid.*  I.e., Straussian hegemonist.  He may be many things,  
>> but he's
>> not that;  he may run with them (as any who have performed the  
>> roles McCain
>> has in the Senate must have, over the last three decades) but they  
>> sure as
>> shit weren't inviting him to the think-and-drinks prior to his  
>> clinching the
>> nomination, not unless they needed something from him.
> He didn't have to run with them. He explicitly refuted their belief
> system for the first decade and a half he was in Congress;

True.  My point is that when you're on any of the various armed  
services or foreign policy committees or other interest groups, when  
you get involved in those processes and sponsoring those bills as a  
legislator, you're going to be involved with those folks constantly  
--- and this was true during Clinton's tenure just as much as during  

> as late as
> 2000 he could have had his pick of any pragmatic realist in DC of
> either party to head up his foreign policy operation. McCain was the
> maverick, remember? He- more than any person in Congress- had the
> credibility on foreign policy to choose whatever route he wanted to
> take. And he choose this route.

I will admit that this is a mystery to me.  I feel that he has come to  
believe that he cannot take the office --- will not be allowed to by  
the cabal that controls the GOP  --- unless he gives lip service  
various party lines.  Or perhaps it's an alignment of goals with  
completely different motives.  Whatever the case, it is certainly  
confusing the national conversation during this election cycle.

The key for me is going to be the acceptance speech.  If there's even  
a hint at repudiation of Bush, then we'll know the maverick is still  
kicking (as would the choice of an "unconventional running mate" ---  
which his campaign had signaled to the RNC was a possibility, but for  
which no preparations for the backlash have apparently been made.)  If  
not, I may have to assume the worst, assume he's been assimilated, and  
then face my own worst, absolutely worst nightmare:  neocon vs. marxist.

In any case, though, as I've mentioned before:  it hardly matters.   
The Dems will have a lock in congress, and perhaps a filibuster-proof  
majority in the Senate.  Given that, putting ANY Dem in the White  
House is, really, quite unnecessarily risky.  Given the hellish choice  
above and the possibility of a trifecta, I'll elect anybody that will  
even apply any check to otherwise unfettered power.

BUT:  you're wrong in that McCain was "a maverick" with respect to  
foreign policy issues.  In fact he, along with Lieberman, on more than  
one occasion sponsored Iraq-oriented bills that were probably or  
certainly authored or co-authored by PNAC.  Pointing that out would  
actually strengthen your case;  but I'll claim that cooperation  
because of alignment of goals doesn't imply group membership or  
equivalence of motives, any more than the uneasy coalition of social  
conservatives and libertarians within the GOP for the last 20+ years  
has really implied any simpatico between those factions.

> If you want, we can quibble endlessly
> about whether or not he drank the duck koolaid, and I'll certainly
> agree that he does not have duck genes, but right now he walks like a
> duck, quacks like a duck, hires ducks, and hangs out with ducks. He's
> a fucking duck.

Way too simplistic.  Washington is a complex place, possibly the most  
complex place in the world apropos these kinds of issues.  And apropos  
Tom's constant complaint about the two parties being one, that's  
simultaneously a sharp insight and far from the truth.  There are tens  
of parties for every issue, but in the aggregate there are two names  
and, more or less, one sort of conflicted set of bundled differences,  
with more similarities than may be obvious; they only differ in the  
most extremes.  Sorting it all out is tough, and probably my own major  
non-professional preoccupation, or what you might call hobby (or  
obsession, if you're my wife or family. ;-)  Actually identifying the  
neocons is easy, because they all intersect in particular places,  
roles, and so on.  (E.g., PNAC is a definitive neocon seat;  I would  
argue that the Heritage Foundation, while it's played temporary home  
to various folks, is not fundamentally a neocon center.)

Apropos PNAC, you may argue that McCain's tenure at the head of  
Kristol's New Citizenship Project prior to PNAC's inception gives him  
his neocon bona fides;  but his exclusion from the founding of PNAC,  
in fact, tells you all you need to know about how the core neocons  
perceived John McCain.  And he took it as a snub;  he did sponsor a  
few pieces of PNAC-authored legislation in the late 80s and onwards,  
but it always appears to me to have been an uneasy dance of quid pro  

But you're going to believe whatever you're going to believe.


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