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Company Man

Well, it's the end of the line for the Straight Talk Express, and as we all brace ourselves for a weeklong onslaught of corporate Media b-roll hagiography, it helps to keep John McCain's legacy in a balanced perspective. Erik Loomis at LGM has a pretty thorough rundown of McCain's career, warts and all.

And you know, turns out it really is mostly warts. I've written in this here jernt countless times over the years of McCain's genuine sacrifice in the Hanoi Hilton, and it would take a lot to offset that level of service -- regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the Vietnam War itself, and of McCain's job of dropping death on poor rural villagers. But a thorough review of McCain's personal life upon return from Vietnam, and especially of his actual record as a senator, shows that if it doesn't offset his brutal torture, he sure as hell gave it a shot.

To be fair, McCain does actually seem to have been mostly a right-wing reactionary by temperament. So that part at least wasn't cynical. And Loomis chronicles McCain's misdeeds quite well in the link, so I won't reiterate them.

Where McCain succeeded mostly was in burnishing his (admittedly respectable) quals as a tortured combat veteran, and in sussing out the very same thing that his arch-nemesis Fuckface Von Clownstick, Grand Imperator of the Empire of Dirt, First of His Name, figured out about marketing oneself -- the media are surprisingly willing to take your calls if you want to jump in front of their cameras and spout just about any old thing. McCain was funny and quick on his feet, and adept at exploiting that mediot weakness. Press the Meat would have had McCain on every fucking Sunday in a reserved luxury recliner, if he'd been available. And you can be sure McCain knew it.

So it's hard to just dump on McCain for being a bit of a bastard over the years. Like anyone, he had his flaws, he just happened to be better at using his personal history to conceal or override those flaws And most of what he did and stood for, he was quite sincere about. In the end, it was his most nakedly cynical move -- selecting the jabbering dunce Sarah Palin as his running mate -- that undid him.

We can remember John McCain for everything, good and bad. He willingly took more physical punishment than most people would or could, and he paid a massive physical (and no doubt mental and spiritual) price for it. He also made a reasonably good-faith attempt to atone for his campaign-finance corruption with the McCain-Feingold bill. And his midnight vote to save Obamacare last year probably saved many lives, and gave the finger to a lot of people who thoroughly deserved it.

And yet. Palin's selection as running mate accelerated the empowerment of the barrel-bottom dimbulb GOP base, which we are all now paying the price for, and will for decades to come, probably. And after McCain announced his cancer as terminal, as he vocally decried the perfidious machinations of the aforementioned Clownstick and his satanic minions, McCain could easily have made one last effort for his country, one that would have required no sacrifice at all, as he was already on his way out the door.

He could have stood with the Democrats on any number of recent issues, and preserved a 50-50 stalemate, instead of (like his fellow Arizona senator, Jeff Flake) indulging in cheap grandstanding about his damned principles, and then voting right along with this paper tyrant he and Flake kept squawking about.

McCain was much more establishment hack than gutsy maverick, but even there it's useful to observe how that weird dichotomy persisted, and to understand the mediocracy's role in perpetuating that myth. Politicians -- at least ones that stay in office -- are as much marketer as policy maker or anything else, and so if a politician is able to use "news" programs to effectively market transparent myths and falsehoods for decades, it is more an indictment of the media than of the politician who figured out how to use the media. That's not victim-blaming, that's noting that the game is rigged, and the refs are lousy at their jobs.

But whatever. Like many before him and many to come, McCain was wrong about many things, but as the saying goes, he was wrong within normal parameters. He was a true character -- pugnacious, funny, somehow managing to be self-deprecating and smarmy in the same sentence at times. He provided a solid contrast to the emotionally retarded thug sitting in the White House, and the cadre of feckless, gutless enablers on Capitol Hill.

The cultists think Clownstick is some kind of tough guy, that he's an alpha dog. Bullshit. McCain was a bona-fide tough guy, and it's a sad irony that so many of the pussy cultists prefer to piss on the grave of a mostly honorable man, in the service of someone who doesn't have an honorable bone in his fat orange body.

We wish he had been a better man, and done more good things that he could easily have done, but we'll also miss the guy. Rest in peace, Senator.


This post first appeared on Hammer Of The Blogs, please read the originial post: here

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