by Bruce Eaton
A lament for the demise of the John McCain we once knew and respected.
|I am writing this in mourning. It is a eulogy of sorts. Someone dear to many of us passed away this year, sacrificed not to what is good or what is bad, but to what is useful.
Though I register as an independent, in practical terms that is rarely the case. I vote predominantly as a democrat, as at heart I am a populist, and when I look across the aisle I see a very different vision from my own. Most of us feel the same way, no matter what side of the aisle we sit on. The other side is foreign, almost unknowable.
But once upon a time there was a man across the way that danced to his own tune. Usually in synch with his cohorts, but when he sang his own song it was dissonant and determined. His obedience to the party line was on loan at all times, never to be depended on when his own internal sense of outrage was awakened by his elephantine fellows.
As the administration prosecuted a war with the most dubious justifications, it also began to take liberties with many things that had made America deserving of other countries admiration. If we had pursued torture in the past, we had always had the good taste to be ashamed of it and repent of it. We had treated the Geneva Convention as if it had a place in Canonical literature. It was part of what made our country worthy of emulation. We stood for something, darn it! But now we had found it inconvenient and were no longer inclined to give it much respect. Torture was a means to an end. A necessary evil. The public started to buy into this way of thinking as they had been scared to death for themselves, their children and the very American way of life. Whatever it takes, we cowered.
But up stood a lion from the red team and said “No!” A man who had been tortured and knew its futility put his foot down and said we were better than this. Here was a man of principle. Here was John McCain.
He has passed on now.
Filling his seat in the senate is a man who has chosen to run for President of the United States on a “No Earmarks” stance, yet chose a running mate that is governor of a state that has the highest per capita rate of earmarks of any state in the union. A man who’s former presidential ambitions were gunned down by devious political practices of the most abhorrent kind, and then hired the unscrupulous perpetrators of his political assassination to run his own campaign in the same unscrupulous way. Some may think it worse. When one’s campaign ethics are questioned by Karl Rove, it is a safe bet that your sense of honor has left the tracks. This is a man who has made honesty in advertising more of a punch line than the TV series “Mad Men” ever could. This man fought to have the republican pro-life plank include exceptions for rape and incest, having heated altercations with President Bush over the issue, but has now decided to remain quiet as the plank remains as rigid and absolute in it’s call for the dissolution of Roe v. Wade. This new candidate has become a malleable Gumby, driven by something other than internal ethical absolutes. He has emerged as the Al Davis of politics. “Just win, baby, win!”
The irony is that this new candidate goes by the same name as the man he replaced, but bears so little resemblance to him.
May the first John McCain rest in peace, but for the life of me, I don’t know how he will be able to.