FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The McCain Cult

Photo by Derek Bridges | CC BY 2.0

So much time spent on this trifle of a story. Someone named Kelly Sadler, a “special assistant” and “communications aide” to the president stated in a White House meeting May 10 that Sen. John McCain’s opposition to the appointment of Gina Haspel as CIA director was irrelevant.

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” she said, according to a leak—presumably by a White House colleague wanting to embarrass her. And so the liberal media—assiduously avoiding coverage of the unprecedented teachers’ strikes in this country, or the Afghan situation as the U.S.-trained army deteriorates and the Taliban expands, or the situation in Iraq as the anti-U.S. Sadrists take power, or the opening of that record-breaking bridge from mainland Russia to Crimea—dwells on this issue of a Trump aide making a “joke” about McCain’s likely immanent death.

(Full disclosure. My father died of glioblastoma brain cancer, the same thing McCain has to deal with, within 15 months of diagnosis, which is the norm.)

How shocking! She joked about someone who’s obviously an American hero. A war hero. He was tortured for his country and endured, becoming a beloved wise senator for 30 years. Those are the news director’s talking points. Trump and his team are disrespectful towards the war hero. (Re-air those clips of Trump saying he likes people who weren’t taken prisoner.)

Actually I question whether the remark was intended as a “joke.” It sounds more like a matter-of-fact observation. Like I say, 15 months is the norm. Sen. Edward Kennedy was diagnosed with glioblastoma in May 2008 and died August 2009. The reason the story has produced headlines is that the liberal media wants to lionize McCain in order to shame Trump. It is absolutely mandatory for cable anchors to observe that McCain was a “hero.” An unqualified, unquestionable hero.

Why? the inquiring mind wants to scream. Because while bombing Hanoi in a criminal war in October 1967 he got shot down? What greatness did he show as he bombed? Or in his conduct as a prisoner, when he appropriately confessed to crimes against the Vietnamese people? The adulation of McCain is part and parcel of the overall promotion of the U.S. military as the repository of U.S. virtue in a time when all other institutions lose respect. (Even as U.S. youth are increasingly drawn to socialism, they express greater confidence in the U.S. military than any other U.S. institution.) McCain suddenly represents Integrity, versus Trump’s creeping corruption. Old Rome versus the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

John McCain, the national hero. Advocate of war with Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya. So honorable in his consistent advocacy of bombing Iran. Oh, and in joking about it. Didn’t he use the lyrics to the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” to draw a laugh by changing them to “Bomb bomb bomb Iran”? Hilarious, right? This poor guy dying of cancer advocated frying Iranian children. But hey, now is the time to honor him and unite the nation around the universal respect he should command.

No. The hagiography accumulating around this warmongering clown who would have gone to war with Russia over Georgia in 2008 or Ukraine in 2014 is knee-jerk deference to the system itself, with the assumption that Trump is the deviant one, to be vilified.  Because he’s insensitive to our war heroes in violation with the national cult of military glorification.

When I was in high school I met McCain’s father, John Sidney “Jack” McCain Jr. briefly at a ceremony on a base in Oahu. In 1971 my father, a career Air Force officer residing in a Bangkok hotel, saved many lives during a fire. He received a medal from McCain and I shook his hand. The photo shows me looking grim. I wanted him to know I hated the Vietnam War and was there purely for filiality.

Dying of glioblastoma brain cancer is a very frustrating thing. First you don’t remember words, or confuse words. You don’t remember names. (My father strangely referred to all three sons towards the end by my name, which was strange because I was always the black sheep.) You lose the capacity to articulate, or even formulate thoughts. Your body shuts down. You can’t stand up or handle your bodily functions. Your brain dies as others attend you. Then you’re gone.

Brain cancer is a terrible thing. Believe me, I’ve been there. But it’s no claim for martyrdom. McCain could have been ripped apart in Vietnam for bombing civilians. As it is he will die peacefully and painlessly in bed as his mind dissolves. There being no God nor heaven there is no final accountability. Just the utility of using an icon to retain patriotic credentials while trashing Trump. It’s fine to trash Trump but why elevate this crazed hawk, just because he’s dying?

 

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
January 17, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: No Woman, No Cry
Kathleen Wallace
Hijacking the Struggles of Others, Elizabeth Warren Style
Robert Hunziker
The Rumbling Methane Enigma
Frank Joyce
Will the Constitution Fail Again?
Pete Dolack
Claims that the ‘NAFTA 2’ Agreement is Better are a Macabre Joke
Andrew Levine
Biden Daze
Vijay Prashad
Not an Inch: Indian Students Stand Against the Far Right
Ramzy Baroud
Sealed Off and Forgotten: What You Should Know about Israel’s ‘Firing Zones’ in the West Bank
Norman Solomon
Not Bernie, Us. Not Warren, Us. Their Clash Underscores the Need for Grassroots Wisdom
Ted Rall
America’s Long History of Meddling in Russia
David Rosen
The Irregulators vs. FCC: the Trial Begins
Jennifer Matsui
The Krown
Joseph Natoli
Resolutions and Obstacles/2020
Sarah Anderson
War Profiteering is Real
James McFadden
The Business Party Syndicate
Ajamu Baraka
Trump Prosecutors Make Move to Ensure that Embassy Protectors are Convicted
David Swanson
CNN is Trash
Rev. William Alberts
Finally a Christian Call for Trump’s Removal
Dave Lindorff
The ERA Just Got Ratified by Virginia, the Needed 38th State!
W. T. Whitney
Mexico Takes Action on Coup in Bolivia and on CELAC
Steve Early
How General Strike Rhetoric Became a Reality in Seattle 
Jessicah Pierre
Learning From King’s Last Campaign
Mark Dickman
Saint Greta and the Dragon
Jared Bernstein - Dean Baker
Reducing the Health Care Tax
Clark T. Scott
Uniting “Progressives” Instead of Democrats
Nilofar Suhrawardy
Trump & Johnson: What a Contrast, Image-wise!
Ron Jacobs
Abusing America’s Children—Free Market Policy
George Wuerthner
Mills Are Being Closed by National Economic Trends, Not Environmental Regulations
Basav Sen
Nearly All Americans Want Off of Fossil Fuels
Mark Ashwill
Playing Geopolitical Whack-a-Mole: The Viet Nam Flag Issue Revisited
Jesse Jackson
New Hope for One of America’s Poorest Communities
Binoy Kampmark
Harry and Meghan Exit: The Royal Family Propaganda Machine
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again!
Rob Okun
A Call to Men to join Women’s March
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
We All Need to Be Tree Huggers Now
Tom Stephens
The New York Times’ Delusions of Empire
Julian Rose
Fake-Green Zero Carbon Fraud
Louis Proyect
The Best Films of 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Across the Balkans: Into Kosovo
Colin Todhunter
Gone Fishing? No Fish but Plenty of Pesticides and a Public Health Crisis
Julian Vigo
Can New Tech Replace In-Class Learning?
Gaither Stewart
The Bench: the Life of Things
Nicky Reid
Trannies with Guns: Because Enough is Enough!
James Haught
Baby Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark
David Yearsley
Brecht in Berlin
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail