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What Became of John
On Sunday, the online edition of the St. Petersburg Times
published an article entitle, "Cousin John, where did you go?
" by a relative of Republican presidential candidate John McCain. This cousin, although a Democrat in a Democratic leaning side of the extended McCain clan, said that he, his father, and other relatives had long been admirers of John McCain, both during his service as a pilot and as a prisoner of war, and then after as a Senator. Even though McCain was a dyed-in-the-wool member of the GOP, his willingness to openly speak in opposition to typical Republican positions earned him great respect among his more liberal kin: examples by the writer of the article, Adam Vaulx Boles, included McCain's assertion in the year 2000 that repealing Roe v. Wade
would result in "...thousands of young women... performing illegal and dangerous operations" and his statement that political parties should not "...be defined by pandering to the outer-reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance."
Mr. Boles then expressed great disappointment that this same John McCain, who had been so at odds with his own Republican Party on at least several major issues, had changed in such a remarkable way between the years 2000 and 2008. The Senator who had previously supported Roe v. Wade
now says, "It should be overturned"; and that same Senator, who had challenged his own party's deep affiliation with radical Right-wing Christian groups and their leaders has now chosen Sarah Palin, who has been affiliated with churches
so extreme in their apocalyptic views that even more mainstream Pentecostal denominations have repudiated
Although I am certainly not a Democrat, the dismay in Mr. Boles' article about what has become of John McCain resonates with me. My kind of conservatism, which I have described previously in such articles as "An Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly
" and "Conservatism My Way, Blunt and Hard
," is shared by few who would use the term "conservative" to describe themselves; but in men like John McCain I occasionallynot always, but occasionallysaw the version of conservatism I like: a kind of toughness that is more willing to turn its hard edge toward the big, mean, and nasty than toward the weak, needy, and put-upon. I might not like a whole lot of air-headed Leftist tripe, and I most decidedly have no use
for some grown-up rich kid trying to be the working people's hero the way Barack Obama does with his vapid, messianic drivel about Hope-'n-Change, but all that aggravation is a whole universe away from the loathing disgust I have for what has become the Republican mishmash cobble of racists, anti-intellectuals, hypocritical homophobes, and especially Right-wing religious freaks like Sarah Palin and her deranged crowd of tongue-speaking, twitching, hopping-up-and-down loons.
What became of the John McCain I had studied, respected, and, at least on some issues, agreed with? This was a man who was a crazy, if not particularly high-powered, young cadet who broke curfews, got in trouble, and had a good time at the U.S. Naval Academy. This was a fellow who experienced the utterly mind-blowing terror of getting blasted out of the sky while flying a fighter jet. This was a man who suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of sub-human torturers masquerading as "liberators" of their miserable toilet of a country. This was a guy who came out of that Hell-hole, mended his broken body, got his act back together, and plunged into high-powered national politics to take names and kick pork-barrel politicians up and down the Beltway. This was a conservative who "got it" enough to understand what dismantling Roe v. Wade
would do at the street level to the flesh-and-blood bodies of young women.
I feel like declaring that I am completely mystified by what has become of McCain, but I am not. On the other hand, I could get some high-fives by waving a dismissive hand while making some simplistic assertion that would invite a round of "Yeah, man, McLame sucks!" from my Leftist friends (what remains of them, anyway), but I cannot bring myself to trivialize a man who was once more than he is now.
I think I know what became of John. Maybe I'm wrong: maybe what seems so apparent to me is nothing more than an excuse, a way by which I can rationalize that which defies reason, or a means by which I can write the end of a story that I got wrong all along.
Without going into detail that would unduly burden a thought better expressed parsimoniously, I fear that what became of John McCain is this:
John gave up.
You see, soldiers do that sometimes: they just give up.
When a war never ends, when a cause is lost, when putting your weapon down is so fabulously better than spending the rest of your life in a miserable trench, a soldier just might realize that it's time to stop being there.
This is especially possible when your own side thinks of you as a traitor, and the people for whom you fight hate you for the flag under which you've chosen to do battle.
Why keep fighting? Whose hero are you going to be when you lie down to breathe your last?
John McCain's own fellow Republican, George W. Bush, kicked him into the dirt with filthy tactics in the 2000 Presidential race. John McCain's opposition party is full of weaklings who spent the entire decade of the 1990s getting the snot kicked out of them by the Right-wing Republicans on Capitol Hill, and they did nothing whatsoever
to slow down, much less stop, the neo-con engine of destructive lies that has ultimately run this Republic into the ground for the past nearly eight years.
Sometime during this opus of the 21st Century, John McCain gave up; and once a man gives up, it's awfully hard to really give a damn about much of anything.
For the battles John McCain fought on my side, particularly those in his political life, I must thank him.
For his surrender years ago after he was shot down and then for his surrender again in this era when he was shot down, I cannot bring myself to hate him.
But for the man he has become, I cannot possibly want him to be the President.
Soon enough, John McCain will pass from this life. In the end, the bravest of hearts meets the very same fate as the weakest. Unlike a coward, though, a great man may live long enough to feel the bravery within him ebb away into silence before his heart beats its last.
Only the brave can suffer that final defeat; cowards who live in the perpetual night of wasted lives will never know the tragedy of stillness before nightfall.
The Dark Wraith wishes John McCain nothing other than a quiet journey home.
John McCain is in a steady decline now.
I've seen Alzheimer's in relatives before. When asked an uncomfortable question like, "Where did you leave your purse?" an afflicted person will first look confused, then a bit angry, then will smile a bit and talk about a similar event in the distant past. So in this example the answer might be, "My daddy bought me the prettiest green purse when I was a little girl. Do you remember it?"
Likewise when John McCain was asked how many homes he owns, he looked confused. He looked momentarily angry. Then he grew confident and explained that he was a POW and he didn't have a table.
We don't need a president that can't recall the present and sees the whole world through the lense of his tortured youth.
good morning dark wraith:
a little riff on the giving up. once a soldier does that, it's impossible to get them back on the line. sure, you might be able to threaten, bully, or implore them to return to their place. hell, you might even get them to carry a rifle. thing is, everywhere they stand the integrity of that line will be compromised.
they might not run, but they will not advance.
they might shoot, but they will never aim.
all you'll have is a place holder that might or might not be fit for parade duty.
there are all kinds of things that need to be called into question about mcCain's narrative.
one of the things i find very disturbing is that he seems to have latched onto this whole "totally heroic, patriotic and brave" thing about his behavior during captivity. when pressed, he will retreat to the position of "Ok Ok there was that one time i broke."
there was nothing uniform, or even mildly predictable about my behavior in combat, which is probably a bit more extreme of a condition than prison. he flew combat missions you say? here's a combat flight:
drink some coffee
eat some dexamil
set the autopilot
wait a few hours
spend 90 seconds over the target
eat a hot meal
sleep on clean sheets
granted if you get shot down during the 90 seconds of real hostile danger your whole life is changed.
things are different down in the mud with the grunts. there was no predictability out in the boonies. guys who performed like a horatio or achilles the day before would crack like peewee herman because they got a letter from their girlfriend talking about a new puppy. guys who broke and shit themselves two hours ago would stand up like a reincarnation of joshua lawrence chamberlin on little round top.
you never knew. i never knew anyway. what i did know was that just about everybody i served with at one time or another ran the gamut of extremes and all the mundanities in between.
anyone who talks of consistency or absolutes is a lying motherfucker.
of course, that about sums up my take on john mcCain.
"Not a moment was about to be lost! Five minutes more of such a defensive and the last roll call would sound for us! Desperate as the chances were, there was nothing for it but to take the offensive. I stepped to the colors. The men turned towards me. One word was enough- 'BAYONETS!' It caught like fire and swept along the ranks. The men took it up with a shout, one could not say whether from the pit or the song of the morning sat, it was vain to order 'Forward!'. No mortal could have heard it in the mighty hosanna that was winging the sky. The whole line quivered from the start; the edge of the left-wing rippled, swung, tossed among the rocks, straightened, changed curve from scimitar to sickle-shape; and the bristling archers swooped down upon the serried host- down into the face of half a thousand! Two hundred men!
"It was a great right wheel. Our left swung first, the advancing foe stopped, tried to make a stand amidst the trees and boulders, but the frenzied bayonets pressing through every space forced a constant settling to the rear. Morrill with his detached company and the remnants of our valorous sharpshooters... now fell upon the flank of the retiring crowd. At the first dash the commanding officer I happened to confront, coming on fiercely (with) sword in hand and big navy revolver (in) the other, fires one barrel almost in my face. But seeing the quick saber point at his throat, reverses arms, gives sword and pistol into my hands and yields himself prisoner.
"Ranks were broken; some retired before us somewhat hastily; some threw their muskets to the the ground- even loaded; sunk on their knees, threw up their hands calling out, 'We surrender. Don't kill us!' As if we wanted to do that! We kill only to resist killing. And these were manly men, whom we could befriend and by no means kill, if they came our way in peace and good will." -- Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin
From the website Voices of Battle
After the surrender terms were signed by General Lee on April 9, General Chamberlain was assigned the task of accepting the formal surrender of arms of the Army of Northern Virginia scheduled for April 12, 1865. It was a cool, wet day. Their lines formed on the road leading to Appomattox Court House, Chamberlain's division watched the tattered gray column trudge toward the village. Without hesitation, Chamberlain called his men to attention and saluted the Confederates as they approached. At the head of the Confederate column a despondent General John Gordon heard the shifting of weapons and recognized the honor. He rose in his saddle, reigned in his horse and boldly returned the salute. Former enemies paid their respects to each other in this last act of the war in Virginia.
Thank you, Music Man.
chamberlin also broke into his stores to make sure that the veterans of lee's army would be fed, well and generously.
after a long war, and chamberlin's service had been entirely with the army of the potomac, soldiers often feel, and rightly so, that the soldiers of the other side might just be the only motherfuckers in the whole world who understand them.
chamberlin was rightly honored. he was a remarkable man, who reacted remarkably in a very trying time.
i also have a distinct fondness for buford. buford's defense of the ridge on that very first day of gettysburg ensured the ground that would later be the stone upon which pickett's brigade would break so thoroughly and heartbreakingly.
chamberlin's own writings talk explicitly about the wild swings of emotion, and behavior that men experience in combat. he lay behind a barricade of dead soldiers and his own dead horse for a full night and day in the cold field of fredericksburg. waiting for either a chance to run, some gallant relief, or death itself. finally, a truce was granted, what wounded were still alive were carried off, the dead buried. then, the fight was rejoined.
i don't know if chamberlin's journals are still in print. i found them in the library at CalstateFresno. they are worth reading. no, fuck that, they are worth study.
DW, I will mull over your thoughts on JM's giving up. It sure does fit certain confused before and after pictures of him. I'd mentioned before, here, that it seemed that McCain was ceding the election to Obama, and other than Palin's emergence as the new Republican Savior-worshipping Savior, it still looks like he could care less about winning, as he lies most prodigiously everywhere he can be heard. I see that I am making the mistake that most of us on the left have done for decades at least; Assuming that most people are hearing and reading with the same eyes and ears that I use.
Thanks to Minstrel Boy and PoLT for their postcards from Hell. I know how fortunate I am to have never glimpsed that...well, it's not really a place is it?
Giggles at DW's mouse toy misadventures. The other night, not the dark and stormy one, I nodded off while awaiting a reboot. Just as I awoke to electric jolts running up my arm, which I took to mean the start of a major heart attack, I noticed my left hand squeeze my right bicep again, to remind me what a dolt I am.
Hey, it was dark and stormy. Figures.
"This was a guy who came out of that Hell-hole, mended his broken body, got his act back together, and plunged into high-powered national politics to take names and kick pork-barrel politicians up and down the Beltway. " Ah, Wraith, like the guy said at the end of "Liberty Valence" -- "print the legend."
John McCain had never shown a hint of the qualities that made admirals of his equally maverick father and grandfather, but his POW heroism gave him a shot at the national stage and he took it. What bothers me most is the lack of self-respect. That oft-shown picture of McCain fervently hugging a somewhat discomfited George W. Bush is something I just can't get my head around. To hug a man who had done to me what was done to McCain in the 2000 primary campaign -- slander of the most vicious sort -- would be inconceivable. (And unlike Vizzini, I do know what that word means.)
The man didn't give up, he sold out. There's a big difference.
Good morning, Dark Wraith.
I don't see McCain as all that different, any more so than the man changed his clothes.
But then, I understand that when one orders a BLT, one expects a certain type of bread.
I remember someone asking him about the big to-do with J Falwell, pointing out that he had called the guy out earlier. McCain said that the guy that did that lost the election.
And so it goes.
It's the political reality on the ground. Unlike the parliamentary system where various factions form their own parties and then form a coalition government, in the congressional system we have coalitions that form parties.
So not one is pure.
It's more a matter of trying to drink from the Gatorade bottle with the least amount of piss in it. That is very much the position of the American voter.
Aa for McCain,
Wouldst thou go amongst men? Then firstly, you must learn to cleanse thine hands with dirty water.
I see a man, and the only water he has is a bucketful of dirty water.
I expect that he should be able to clean his hands in an appropriate manner.
Well I was born in Macon Georgia they kept my dad in the Macon jail
Now my daddy said son if you keep your hands clean
You won't hear those bloodhounds on your trail
But I fell in with bad companions we robbed a bank in Tennessee
The sheriff caught me way up in Nashville they locked me up and threw away the key
Well I washed my hands in muddy water
I washed my hands but they didn't come clean
I tried to do what daddy told me
But I must have washed my hands in a muddy stream
gotta agree with you PT. mcCain had very little soul to sell, and what he had, he sold cheap.
McCain was dirty long before he tried to pretend he was Mavericky.
Why do they always use the lemon/lime Gatorade, PT? There's no way to tell by the color, how pissy it is, and once we open the lid, we've bought the crap.
give a look in. i stole (with credit of course) the fine graphic to lead my piece which is an expansion of the thoughts in my first comment.
they're catching on that i'm probably more paleo conservative (teddy roosevelt was the last really good republican, while eisenhower was the last real one, after that it's nixonian racist motherfukers) than i am anything they would call progressive.
nobody's fucked with me there yet. a couple thought about it, read some of my replies and thought better.
"...and what he had, he sold cheap."
I said the same thing about John Wetton when he left UK to form Asia.
Which, I suppose, might help to suggest as to why my musical career was not more successful.
Come to think of it, I'm still upset about that.
J. McCain't recollect:
"But I do rely on a lot of smart people that I have that are both in my employ and acquaintances of mine. And most of them did not anticipate this. Most of them, I mean I can find some that did. But, a guy that's on my staff named Doug Holtz-Eakin, who was once the head of the Office of Management and Budget, said that there was nervousness out there. There's nervousness. There was nervousness that we had such a long period of prosperity without a downturn because of the history of our economy. But I don't know of hardly anybody, with the exception of a handful, that said 'wait a minute, this thing is getting completely out of hand and is overheating.'
"So, I'd like to tell you that I did anticipate it, but I have to give you straight talk, I did not." [Tapper pullquote from NH Sentinel interview, December 2007]
yeah PT, at least when i sold out it was for TV money...
if you gotta whore, whore high class that's my motto.
that, and always brush your teeth between johns.
...And then it occured to me that the best of all possible solutions would be to require that only hairdressers, not politicians, be allowed to run for public office.
People are much more inclined to believe what their hairdressers tell them, and no one complains when a hairdresser "goes negative."
I find the degree of loyalty that people are inclined to show their hairdressers more understandable than that toward politicians.
MB: Hey! I was on tv once!
They killed the audio, but I was jamming out, bro.
Perhaps I should have been more offended by that at the time...
Dark Wraith, I'm a little surprised that we haven't heard a diatribe from you, concerning our Gov's efforts at hyperinflating our way to prosperity.
Are you ok?
Good afternoon, Weaseldog.
A rant is coming. From Bush to Bernanke to Paulson. From the Republicans to the Democrats. From Krugman to Klein. From the Right to the Left. From the neo-cons to the liberals. From Reagan to Clinton. From Obama to McCain.
I am going to rip every one of them a NewOne.
(And I am impressed that you understand exactly what this ungodly bailout is going to cause.)
The Dark Wraith is just patiently circling.
From the Daily Show: "John McCain, the only POW brainwashed after his captivity."
Some of you who have taken the time to follow up on the New Apostolic Reformation, and are seriously considering joining up with them, better sign up now; Spiritual Warfare Courses are filling up fast, so hurry...for God's sake, HURRY!
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