Monday, September 03, 2018

Silent Hypocrisy

At John McCain's funeral on Saturday, Americans displayed -- for a brief moment -- the better angels of their nature. But, David Leonhardt writes in The New York Times,  for Republicans the display was an act of silent hypocrisy:

It was an act for Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. It was an act for Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House. It was an act, most jarringly, for Lindsey Graham, McCain’s dear friend and the senior senator from South Carolina. It was an act for Orrin Hatch, Rob Portman and nearly all of the other Republican members of Congress who attended the service.
It was an act because they have not kept faith with the principles that McCain held dear — and that he himself organized his memorial service to celebrate, as a clear rebuke to Trump and Trumpism. McConnell, Ryan, Graham and the others have instead done the very opposite of keeping faith. They have made possible Trump’s hateful, petty, law-defying politics.

Their record, under Trump, speaks for itself:

They have refused to defend America’s national security in the face of Russian attacks. They have refused to defend the rule of law against Trump’s attacks. They have refused to defend the F.B.I., the Justice Department and the First Amendment. They have refused to defend the basic civil rights that Trump seeks to deny to dark-skinned American citizens, including the right to vote and the right to hold a passport.

George W. Bush's praise of McCain was a rebuke to them:

“He was honorable, always recognizing that his opponents were still patriots and human beings. He loved freedom, with the passion of a man who knew its absence. He respected the dignity inherent in every life, a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators. Perhaps above all, John detested the abuse of power. He could not abide bigots and swaggering despots.”

And Meghan McCain's anger was aimed directly at them:

“The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold. She is resourceful and confident and secure. She meets her responsibilities. She speaks quietly because she is strong. America does not boast because she has no need to. The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”

They should have sat in shame. But they didn't. Their hypocrisy will be in full display this week as they rush through Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, and refuse to release 100,000 pages of the paper trail Kavanaugh created.

McCain knew who they were. One hopes most Americans know, too.

Image: The New York Times


Anonymous said...

Leonhardt distorts history in this hagiography. McCain is just as responsible as McConnell, Ryan and Graham in making possible "Trump’s hateful, petty, law-defying politics."

Like Trump, McCain was well-known as a cranky, rude and abusive man, not a bastion of civility. He was a noted misogynist, making incredibly inappropriate "jokes, " calling then 18-years-old Chelsea Clinton ugly and implying that Hillary had a lesbian affair with Janet Reno, the first female AG. He called his own wife a c**t before a public audience.

His rallies with Sarah Palin in 2008 were a prelude of the Trump rallies to come. Palin would take the stage to get the audience all riled up and shouting “terrorist,” “traitor,” “off with his head,” “kill him,” in reference to Obama. Then McCain would come up and play to the press by "defending" Obama from the worst excesses. The audience would then go home to watch McCain-approved TV ads that said, "Barack Obama and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. Friends. They've worked together for years. But Obama tries to hide it."

McCain voted with the rest of the GOP more than 80% of the time on Trump's policies. After voting not to kill the ACA, he hypocritically voted to gut one of its core provisions, the individual mandate. And he voted for Trump's "billions for billionaires" tax cuts.

Finally, McCain was never held to account for his own lawless corruption as a member of the Keeting Five during the savings and loan scandal. This paved the way for other white-collar criminals like Trump to evade accountability.

But McCain cultivated access journalists as his "base" and they were always happy to run the "war hero" line to defuse scandals that would have killed the careers of other politicians. Ultimately, this lowered the bar of respectable behaviour so that even the Manchurian Manchild could clear it.


Owen Gray said...

There was much about McCain not to admire, Cap. But he could work across the aisle -- which is something that few people seem to be able to do these days. And that's the point. Unless we are able rise above our frailties -- and we all have plenty of them -- we will see ourselves as perpetual victims, like Mr. Trump.

McCain had all kinds of faults. But self pity wasn't one of them.