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The Torture of John McCain

It is conventional wisdom that any Republican hoping to become President must obtain the backing of the most discredited and extremist elements within the Republican Party. And so we saw Mitt Romney and John McCain dutifully humiliate themselves in front of those whose catastrophic policies as implemented by the Bush/Cheney regime have earned the contempt of a large majority of Americans and the hatred of much of the world. Why would anyone do this?

Romney’s pandering exodus statement could not have been more insulting to the American people. He essentially argued that if he did not withdraw and leave a clear field to McCain, the American people would elect a Democrat and thus give the terrorists a victory over the United States. Never mind that nearly 80 percent of the country believes the conservatives have set the country on the wrong course, and a large majority believe the country would be better led by Democrats on virtually every issue including war and terrorism. Is the man really that delusional, or is this just more pandering?

Even more astonishing was the weeping and chorus of "No! No!" that greeted the chameleon Romney’s withdrawal. It was as though the CPAC delegates had no clue that the man who had pandered to them for months and laid claim to Reagan’s legacy had conveniently acquired his conservative views only yesterday, it having been inconvenient to espouse such notions in his prior habitat.

But the award for delusion must go to McCain’s appearance. McCain was greeted first with enforced manners as he promised to consult with these faux conservatives, but that devolved into boos as soon as he spoke the words "illegal immigration."

What must John McCain have been thinking, as he stood there, smiling, waiting for the booing to end? The man is and always has been one of the most extreme and pure "conservatives" in the Senate, yet there he was being booed by people who claimed to be extreme conservatives but who were in truth only extremely radical.

The clowns who booed McCain for once having been insufficiently mean spirited towards immigrants had for seven years allowed America’s image to be trashed by men without honor. They supported a lawless regime that destroyed respect for the Constitution, the rule of law and the notion of personal accountability. They cheered as the regime used unchecked executive power to undermine individual liberties, violated treaty promises, openly sought destructive foreign entanglements and allowed corporate greed to corrupt competitive markets. There was nothing conservative about this crowd, and yet McCain was there to beg for their acceptance.

McCain’s presence gives the lie to the media’s virtuous image of this confused man. Have they not thought of why he would so humiliate and degrade himself by appearing before such a group? It is not enough to say, "McCain just wants to be President and this is what he must do." No, the psychological drive is not just ordinary political ambition.

John McCain will lead the Republican Party to defeat in November, because no matter how he frames his candidacy, his platform will be to continue the two colossal failures of the Bush/Cheney regime: (1) a deeply immoral economic and social policy based on distorting taxes to further enrich the rich at the expense of everyone else and (2) a deeply perverted conception of America as a never ending military empire. McCain will promote the first because he simply doesn’t know any better; he may actually believe there’s something conservative about policies that decimate the middle class and working people. But he has embraced the second because he’s still a tortured prisoner in a cage in North Vietnam.

In his quest for redemption McCain sees himself as a true patriot, so he will keep America bogged down in Iraq because he cannot come to terms with America’s loss and his personal tragedy in Viet Nam. His/our humiliating torture must be redeemed in Iraq; it is inconceivable he could accept anything that could be portrayed as another American defeat. The thought of a Democratic President withdrawing troops simply because the American people want no more of Bush/Cheney’s aggressive wars angers John McCain.

McCain’s odyssey is less about America; it’s more about him, and he would keep surging troops until we win and someone sets him free, even if it takes a hundred years.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley