Against McCain—then and now

When I posted an entry about John McCain last night, I tried a couple of different titles before I came up with this: “The McCain candidacy reveals the essence of Bushism.” After I had posted it, I realized to my surprise that it was similar to the title of my article, “McCain: A Dangerous Man Reflecting the Triumph of Clintonism,” which was published at NewsMax exactly eight years ago—not in calendar terms, but in presidential campaign terms, on March 6, 2000, the day before Super Tuesday in that year’s presidential campaign (it also happened to be the first article I published on the Web).

Other than the parallelism of the titles, is there a connection between the two pieces? I think there is.

In the earlier article I said that McCain was a symbol of patriotic virtue by which Americans could imagine that they had cleansed themselves of the stain of Clintonism, without actually having done anything to cleanse themselves:

For the non-judgmental centrists and outright Clinton defenders who comprise the American majority, McCain is the heaven-sent solution to their Clinton problem.

Like the meaningless censure vote that they sought as a substitute for impeachment, McCain symbolizes the honor they have thrown away and want to imagine they still possess, without their having to do any of the things necessary to possess it.

The struggle to determine the facts, make judgments about what is right and wrong, and bring wrongdoers to account no matter how inconvenient it may be requires a level of moral energy that is beyond the reach and desire of the American people as they are presently constituted.

At the same time, however, the nation has more than enough energy to heap scorn on “moralists” and other traditional authority figures. Traditional morality has been replaced by political correctness—and John McCain, with his cultivated maverick’s image, his faux political incorrectness (such as jokingly calling the liberal media “Communists,” to the liberal media’s delight), [and] his undisguised distaste for religious conservatives … is not the sort of man to raise politically correct hackles.

Thus McCain’s extraordinary popularity, far from demonstrating the American majority’s longing for a return of righteousness, signifies their desire to feel good about themselves despite their manifest lack of righteousness.

Far from repudiating Clintonian nonjudgmentalism, McCain symbolizes its triumph.

Thus, in 2000, as I saw it, McCain was being presented as the symbol of honor and virtue, when in reality he was the seal of approval on Clintonian non-judgmentalism, and (as I pointed out in that same article) of the accompanying political correctness.

Something similar is happening in 2008. McCain is being presented as the symbol of national honor, strength, and freedom, when in reality what he stands for is endless, profitless imperial adventures abroad, eager surrender to the Third-World invasion at home, and the attempt to bully and silence anyone who disagrees with him.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 05, 2008 07:32 PM | Send

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