By Olivia Pierson
[First published on Incite 30/8/18]
As (most of) America mourns and eulogises over the death of Senator John McCain and his great patriotic services to the country, services which started under Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War and continued into the current Trump presidency, I feel that a few alternative facts are in order.
Twice McCain tried to run for the office of President and failed. Once in 2000 as he competed to be an alternative to George.W.Bush, and then again in 2008 with Sarah Palin as his running mate, trying in vain to defeat the inevitability of Barack Obama.
I haven’t got much to say about McCain’s time as a POW for 5 years in Hanoi, nor would I wish to denigrate the record of a man subjected to torture by grubby little communists. Even if he did sing under torture, as quite a few people seem to think he did, hence the nickname the “Songbird of Hanoi,” long-standing torture does terrible things to the human spirit which I consider to be a mitigating circumstance.
Remember President Trump’s famous dictum about McCain:
“He’s only a war-hero because he was captured; I like people who weren’t captured.”
Perhaps this is wisdom. Captured soldiers who are tortured are subjected to terrible pains which will make them do and say almost anything to make the agony stop. Soldiers who aren’t captured never have this question of patriotic loyalty dogging them for the rest of their lives if they survive. McCain did.
The thing I mistrusted about McCain with all this was his opposition to Trump’s pick for CIA Director, Gina Haspel. He opposed her because when she was a chief operative, jihadists and those firmly connected to other jihadists were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” aka waterboarding, enemas, temporary confinement in a box and sleep deprivation. When the enemy were regularly carrying out throat cutting, mutilations, beatings and beheadings on their POWs, I fail to see how enhanced interrogation techniques, once practiced by the CIA, qualify as being so inordinately “immoral,” as McCain stated that they were. I just don’t get it – something smells off.
But beyond these POW issues, John McCain took some very unpatriotic stances during his service as a politician and a senator. For instance, in 1996 he voted against the Simpson Amendment to S.1664 – a vote to in effect allow immigrants to send for their adult relatives, who in turn send for their and their spouses’ adult relatives. The bi-partisan Barbara Jordan Commission recommended doing away with the adult relative categories in order to lessen wage depression among lower-paid American workers. The Simpson Amendment attempted to carry out that recommendation. McCain voted with the majority which defeated the recommendation by 80-20 votes.
Also in 1996, McCain voted against the Feinstein Amendment to S.1664, which sought to reduce the annual admission of spouses and minor children of immigrants – another attempt to limit chain migration. Who could’ve thought that McCain would find Democrat Dianne Feinstein’s amendment a little too harsh? Only in RINO Land.
By the time 2007 rolled around, McCain was voting against looser amendments to facilitate more immigration. Perhaps the results of his earlier 1996 efforts began to look obvious as the demographics of America’s electorate had been irretrievably altered by then.
McCain was famously one of the Gang of Eight, along with Chuck Schumer, back in the days when Democrats said they were worried about the constant flow of illegal immigration over the Mexican border. The bill, however, would’ve facilitated millions of illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship, itself a controversial idea among Republicans. Another provision of the bill included completing 700 miles of pedestrian fencing along the border, which would require approximately 350 new miles of fencing (a fence just sounds so much more palatable than a wall). The bill was ultimately defeated in Congress. When Trump strolled onto the scene boldly brandishing his idea of building a “great, big, beautiful wall,” McCain opposed it vehemently. In his final letter to America which was read out publicly yesterday, McCain wrote:
“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.”
Something in that paragraph doesn’t quite fit the rest of its sentiment. Most of it speaks to the noble ideal of America’s greatness – but since when did America “hide behind walls, rather than tear them down?” Oh, The Wall. It looks as if McCain couldn’t quite die without confusing patriotism with a tribal rivalry of his own making, in his own corner of the globe. How naughty!
During the election, McCain excoriated Trump for his comments about Mexican rapists and murderers coming over the border, then a year later when President Trump was weighing up a strike on Syria for its use of chemical weapons on civilians, McCain put the blame on the President outright:
“President Trump last week signalled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria. Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in Douma.”
McCain’s rivalry was as boundless as America’s borders.
It must be said that a tighter case could be made along the lines of McCain’s voting record being more responsible for the deaths of Kate Steinle, Molly Tibbetts and the little boy Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, who died at the hands of the New Mexico terrorist group, than can be made against President Trump for the deaths of civilians in Syria at the hands of their war-criminal leader.
McCain’s brand of patriotism saw him oppose President Trump on absolutely everything, from border security, to Syria, to the Affordable Care Act, to handling the economy, China, North Korea, Russia and beyond – all due to what looked like an intense personal rivalry. Personal dislikes are human and part-and-parcel of politics, no doubt, but I find myself rather dubious about this brand of McCain’s “patriotism” because I can’t tell the difference between it and the serious lunacy of the Leftist Resistance. It reminds me that the Republicans did not actually win the extraordinary 2016 election, Trump did. It appears that after himself losing twice, John McCain, just like the Left, never got over it.
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