Balkinization  

Friday, September 22, 2006

Is John McCain a tragic figure?

Sandy Levinson

I frankly do not know what to do with regard to John McCain. There are many politicians I feel comfortable denouncing, in both parties, but McCain isn't really one of them. As one of the respondents to one of my earlier posts argued, he IS a genuine hero in a way that is almost unfathomable: It has nothing to do with the fact that he fought in Vietnam, a war that I opposed, but, rather, the way he conducted himself after being captured and released. Whatever the cliched "grace under pressure" is, he demonstrated it. But I also give McCain immense credit for his by all accounts genuine refusal to demonize critics of the war (or any other of his political opponents). I recall being immensely moved by a story in The New Republic about his befriending in a very deep way someone who had been a severe critic of the war, and I believe that speaks tons about the man's basic decency. Although, as a partisan Democrat, I'd never vote for him for the presidency, I would not quake at that prospect, given his demonstrated willingness, which I doubt would vanish in his presidency, to reach out to Democrats and genuinely work with them. He would also be way too old, frankly, to be a plausible candidate for re-election in 2012, which might further speak in his favor as a transitional figure from the putrid and mendacious years of the Bush Administration.

In any event, one could not even raise the possibility of McCain's being a tragic figure if one didn't recognize something special in his stature. Some people may have the same view of Colin Powell. Powell's great flaw is loyalty to people who don't deserve it, but, perhaps, that's just what we expect out of the military. But I'm not sure that McCain's flaw, in the past couple of years, derives from what, in other contexts, might be most noble about him. I find it hard to credit some of his recent conduct as due to much more than his desire to gain sufficient support from the Bush base (and, of course, George W. Bush and Karl Rove themselves) to become the Republican nominee and President in his own right.

I recognize that there is a real debate going on as to whether he really and truly won something from the Administration with regard to the "compromise." It's no small matter if the Administration genuinely has pulled back from waterboarding et al. as acceptable procedures of interrogaton. I tend to share Marty's skepticism about whether the Bush Administration will ever really make concessions on anything they deem important (and within their view of the President's Article II powers), but perhaps the Administration really means it this time, unlike the earlier McCain Amendment, which seems now to be full of sound and fury but signifies little or nothing once one adds in the signing statement. But can he really be comfortable with stripping courts of any jurisdiction at all even to determine whether there is sufficient ground to believe that someone being held is indeed "the worst of the worst"? Perhaps he is, and I, like too many others, have more esteem for him than he deserves. But I wish I believed that he was still the "straight-talking" politico of 2000 instead of what I fear he has become, which is a willing enabler for what is certainly the worst administration since World War II and is perhaps worst administration in the past 150 years.

Comments:

"I find it hard to credit some of his recent conduct as due to much more than his desire to gain sufficient support from the Bush base (and, of course, George W. Bush and Karl Rove themselves) to become the Republican nominee and President in his own right."

This is exactly WHAT is wrong with him...he has sold his SOUL to be a Shill for an Empty Suit of a President in exchange for all that Back-Up for 2008.

What torture couldn't DO...a Faustian Bargain with the Devil could! (And to become the Devil himself for at least Four Years..how much better!)
 

Randy Cunningham was a war hero too.

This is no surprise: the DTA last year was just as much a sell out as this is -- the only purpose of both bills was to provide legal cover for the administration's war crimes.

And that is the reality here:

George W. Bush is a WAR CRIMINAL, and the Republican Party is an organization of WAR CRIMINALS.

This bill changes absolutely nothing: we need to remove these gangsters from office and prosecute them for their crimes.
They aren't going to compromise anything and they aren't going to see reason. They have to be defeated, indicted, convicted, and PUNISHED.

No matter how loing it takes: they are criminals, and that is ALL that they are.

McCain should be ashamed of himself.
 

No, McCain is not tragic, he's pathetic and pitiful.

He long gave away any moral high ground when he embraced "Unitary Executive" Alito. Hence, I was not surprised when he opted for Bush's torture regime.

Might does appear to make right, even for McCain.
 

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