Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Meltdown of McCain's Maverick Myth

This is important, so I'm borrowing from the good people at The Progressive Puppy ...

A long and detailed profile of John McCain in the latest issue of Rolling Stone should put the self-made and self-promoted legend of the GOP candidate as a patriotic, hard charging maverick to rest once and for all. The devastating article by Tom Dickinson is entitled, Make-Believe Maverick: A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty.

In great detail, the article dismantles McCain's fabrications about his life, revealing 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."

The author launches the article with this scary comparison to George Bush, the younger:
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.

Step by step, Dickinson unravels McCain's much-hyped persona. A picture of a very not-nice man emerges: an unrestrained temper, only equaled by an incalculable ambition; a convenient reliance on family connections to get out of tight spots or to further his career, policy reversals not for some higher good but for political gain; questionable judgment and a deep-seated misogyny that should fright the pantsuits off of all women. But it is his world view (to coin Miss Alaska's term) that is most disturbing:

The myth of John McCain hinges on two transformations — from pampered flyboy to selfless patriot, and from Keating crony to incorruptible reformer — that simply never happened. But there is one serious conversion that has taken root in McCain: his transformation from a cautious realist on foreign policy into a reckless cheerleader of neoconservatism. "He [would] be Bush on steroids," says Johns, the retired brigadier general who has known McCain since their days at the National War College. "His hawkish views now are very dangerous. He puts military at the top of foreign policy rather than diplomacy, just like George Bush does. He and other neoconservatives are dedicated to converting the world to democracy and free markets, and they want to do it through the barrel of a gun."

The article should be required reading of all voters; it should permanently shut down that mavericky hero nonsense. It won't, of course, because the Republicans and McCain himself have made a cottage industry out of this misbegotten "brand."