August 31, 2004

John McCain, Champion of the Party Line

Usually I like John McCain, but like all politicians often do (well, except for Zell Miller of Georgia), they return to the party fold and march lockstep when something crucial comes along, like say, a presidential election.

He gave a long speech at the RNC last night, and besides the flip-flopping on President Bush (McCain hates him, he hates him not), he had an interesting line about Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 911: "(Michael Moore) would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace."

Call me crazy, but while I have yet to see the movie (I am a cheapskate, so I'll see it in the $1 theatre) I have never gotten the drift that it portrays Iraq as an "Oasis of Peace." Maybe Sozialismus and Cutbhenist can clear this one up for me.

The complete transcript of the McCain speech is up on


Noumena said...

F9/11 does have one short montage (maybe 30 seconds, 60 tops) of Iraqi daily life immediately before the invasion. This is followed by scenes showing how the invasion effected Iraqis, and more or less continues to effect them up through today: chaos, civilian deaths, Gestapo-style midnight raids of houses by American soldiers.

If there was someone ignorant of life under the Ba'ath Party -- deliberately reminiscent of life under Stalin, one of Hussein's idols -- then McCain's criticism would be accurate. But given the context, I think these scenes can be taken as moderate distortion, with polemical intent: yes, Iraqis lived in a nasty dictatorship; but their daily life was in many respects like our own; because of our invasion, that daily routine has been shattered, replacing a slightly removed dictatorship with the constant threat of anarchy; the lack of WMD means the only justification of the war was bringing freedom to Iraq, but instead we have only brought mayhem.

Alternatively, one can see these scenes as offering something
of a justification for anti-American sentiment in Iraq (and the world more generally): how would you feel if members of your family were killed by an invading army? Would you greet them with flowers and popcorn necklaces, or wail in anguish to your god to smite these people who have stolen your daughter?

Drew said...

I wouldn't call the scene even a mild distortion. It does help explain anti-American sentiment in Iraq. My overarching view of F9/11 is that it provides the context that the mainstream national media ignores. Moore didn't focus on the harshness of life under Hussein because the media took care of that. Moore did provide the context that invading a country necessarily entails the destruction of thousands innocent lives. Moore made that point, because the media glossed it.

McCain disgraced himself in that speech, from what I've read about it. He probably ingratiated himself with the conservatives, though, to say nothing of the rank and file. And moderates and independents are famously enamored of the man. So it was politically a good move for Bush, and possibly for McCain as well.

But McCain should know by now that these people are not his friends. A few weeks ago, Dennis Hastert rhetorically asked a reporter (I'm paraphrasing) "Oh, is John McCain a Republican?" No matter how much he toes the party line for this election campaign, the social conservatives who run the Republican party still consider him an enemy. They will destroy him if they can.

The only thing protecting him is the fact that he's a media darling and a maverick. If he loses that reputation, he's toast.

Archgarth said...

As I said, I usually like John McCain, but I don't believe the public's notoriously short memory is short enough to forget the animosity between him and President Bush. A couple of weeks ago we have him decrying the famous Swift Boat ads, and wanting President Bush to denounce them, and now we have him practically playing footsie with the President.

I agree with you, Drew, that he is doing this right now to placate his party, perhaps he's even planning a Presidential run in 2008, but I doubt he could muster the support in a party that is usually upset with him more often than not.

MosBen said...

He's said in the past that he will not run for president again.

The thing is, though his no-nonsense, speak-my-mind attitude enamors him of both the media and lots of people because there's a general feeling that politicians are sneaky sidewinding bastards, McCain is a conservative's conservative. He is an economic conservative and mostly socially conservative. Yet here we have story after story talking about all the moderates the Republicans are putting on the stage including Arnold, Giuliani, and Mr. McCain. Now, in the first two we have a pot smoking steroid user and a pro-choicer. I DO like McCain and I wish more politicians were like him, but I disagree with him on just about every single issue politically.