The halls of Washington, D.C. are jam-packed with the folks that Bill Bonner calls "world improvers." But I'm now convinced that few are as fanatical or dangerous as Sen. John McCain (R-Keating).
I mean, just watching the guy it should be obvious he's a hazard to humanity; you can almost hear those echoing trumpets, a la "Patton," ricocheting back and forth in his brain, summoning him to his delusions of grandeur.
Now, Matt Welch in the L.A. Times has done something remarkable — he's looked past the POW story and the self-styled "maverick" image to examine what the man actually believes. And is it ever scary:
McCain, it turns out, wants to restore your faith in the U.S. government by any means necessary, even if that requires thousands of more military deaths, national service for civilians and federal micromanaging of innumerable private transactions. He'll kick down the doors of boardroom and bedroom, mixing Democrats' nanny-state regulations with the GOP's red-meat paternalism in a dangerous brew of government activism. And he's trying to accomplish this, in part, for reasons of self-realization.
The first clue to McCain's philosophy lies in two seemingly irrelevant items of gossip: His father was a drunk, and his second wife battled addiction to pain pills. Neither would be worth mentioning except for the fact that McCain's books and speeches are shot through with the language and sentiment of 12-step recovery, especially Steps 1 (admitting the problem) and 2 (investing faith in a "Power greater than ourselves").
Just swell. If his blind ambition gets him to the White House, this will be three presidents in a row acting out their unresolved daddy issues from the Oval Office.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Iraq, McCain can't even get past Step 1; indeed, his foreign policy views meld the worst of neoconservatism and liberal internationalism:
McCain has been banging the drum from nearly Day One to put more boots on the ground in Iraq. "There are a lot of things that we can do to salvage this," he said on "Meet the Press" on Nov. 12, "but they all require the presence of additional troops." McCain is more inclined to start wars and increase troop levels than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. He has supported every U.S. military intervention of the last two decades, urged both presidents to rattle their sabers louder over North Korea and Iran, lamented the Pentagon's failure to intervene in Darfur and Rwanda and supported a general policy of "rogue state rollback." He's a fan of Roosevelt's Monroe-Doctrine-on-steroids stick-wielding in Latin America. And — like Bush — he thinks too much multilateralism can screw up a perfectly good war.
Welch doesn't think McCain has much of a chance in 2008, but I wouldn't be too sure. Steve Clemons over at The Washington Note reports that former McCain aide Marshall Wittmann (another avowed TR fan) has just become Joe Lieberman's communications director — sparking speculation of a third-party world-improving Ticket from Hell for 2008.
I find it entirely plausible that some years hence, someone might write of a President McCain what Thomas Jefferson wrote of Napoleon (not surprisingly, a boyhood hero of McCain; don't you suspect McCain has to resist the reflexive tendency to put his hand inside his jacket, sorta like Dr. Strangelove resisting the Nazi salute?):
“the wretch…who has been the author of more misery and suffering to the world, than any being who ever lived before him. After destroying the liberties of his country, he has exhausted all its resources, physical and moral, to indulge his own maniac ambition, his own tyrannical and overbearing spirit.”