This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.
In its broad strokes, McCain’s life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers’ powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives’ evangelical churches.
In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.
I’ve discussed this a few times in the past few days (elsewhere, obviously). I’ve found myself living in what is, by most accounts, a battleground state, even though no less a Republican spin-meister than Karl Rove predicts all of Colorado’s 9 electoral votes, as well as 264 others, will go to Barack Obama as he swings a full-on awesome 273 electoral votes and wins the presidency. Yes, that Karl Rove. The same one who said that McCain’s lies have gone too far.
When Karl Rove calls you a liar, you’re way deep in it.
McCain’s latest? It’s through Palin, that Obama is “pallin’ around with terrorists who do harm to their own country.” I’m not linking, because it’s one of those kinds of comments you’d like to say “I won’t even dignify that with a response,” because really it doesn’t deserve one. But all of the McCain/Palin sheeple are going to want one, anyway.
Then again, I have a feeling Obama, in typical awesome style, will smile wide and call John McCain out for the lying scoundrel he’s become. Probably stop just short of calling McCain a douchebag, although, got to say, wouldn’t that be rad?
“I’m Barack Obama, and I approve this message: John McCain is a douchebag.”
He never would, of course. Palin can claim she tolerates tolerance considering homosexuality, but Obama is living practice.
But back to McCain. Because what I want to know is when the crossroads demon is going to show up to claim what little is left of his shriveled up soul (okay, I may have been watching too much Supernatural lately. Why do you ask? New season ftw!).
I just don’t get it, in a lot of ways. Like, a por egemplum, as my buddy Captain Doctor Brian would have said: I’m often asked what branch of the military I was in because I wear a dog tag, and every time someone asks, I smile and say, “Oh, it’s my grandfather’s, from World War II.” Because it is. And my granddad got at least one purple heart (I remember finding it in one of his drawers once). And I grew up a boy scout, in a troop who most often held courts of honor at the local V.F.W. I know my share of vets of arguably too many wars. My scoutmaster never spoke of his time in Cambodia not because it was painful but because it was classified. Stuff like that.
But McCain? I have never seen one man more fully exploit his experience in the military, his experience in the war, and other people’s. Like, in that presidential debate when he referred to the bracelet some mother of some soldier had given him, after which Obama briefly noted his own. And do you know why Obama noted his own? Because Obama knew McCain would play the soldier card. And do you know how he knows?
Because McCain does it every fucking time he opens his damned mouth. It’s soldier this, troop that, mother this gave me that. Every time I’ve seen him talk to anyone, he says some mother asked him to bring her son home. Never once mentioning that he’s part of the reason those troops are there in the first place, and if he’s elected, he’s just going to send more there, to do God knows what God knows why, because every other person on the planet knows the whole Iraq thing has been a bad idea from start to so-far-unfinished.
And can I just say: I know McCain was a P.o.W. I remember the POW/MIA flags from when I was a kid, and I know it’s, like, bad and such. Which apparently makes him a war hero.
But since when do heroes get captured? Especially after they get shot down? And do they confess to whatever their captors demand? John McCain did. He called himself a “black criminal” who had “performed the deeds of an air pirate.”
Of course he did so while being tortured. But you’d think that part of the definition of “good soldier” was “didn’t get captured.” Just like you might think part of the definition of “good pilot” might be “didn’t crash the plane,” and “good father” would be “didn’t shake the baby.”
Maybe the real hero is the guy who didn’t go to war in the first place. Or who spoke against it when everyone else was busy voting for it. That guy.
You know, Barack Obama.