John McCain The Narcissistic Carpetbagger

pastedGraphic2Michael Leahy, in today’s Washington Post, has an extended front page article on the genesis of John McCain’s political career and consuming lust for the Presidency of the United States. Previous reports here have delineated McCain’s narcissistic and arrogant willingness to say or do anything that will benefit his interest of the moment. Leahy fleshes out the personal history behind McCain’s craven thirst for power.

But McCain had the most audacious dream of all, and he shared his vision one day with a group of fellow POWs. "He was talking about his father to us and then he said: ‘I want to be president of the United States. Someday I’m going to be president,’ "

Not at all dissuaded, McCain offered his view on the meaning of real command, shaped in part by his father’s perspective on genuine power. He wanted to be the one who made the decisions, McCain said, and his father had taught him that even such impressive-sounding jobs as chief of naval operations, the service’s highest uniformed position, didn’t always provide that opportunity. The only job that guaranteed it was that of president, McCain believed.

"Pursuit of command," as McCain often referred to it, was an ethos bordering on obsession in his family, and it was in Vietnam that he embraced it. But though McCain was the son and grandson of admirals, he decided his pursuit would be in another arena — politics, where he would come to define success not in terms of ideas or legislation but in fulfilling his family’s ideals of leadership and character.

That has always been it with McCain; he craved the power, but didn’t give a damn about actually knowing, working on or fulfilling the duties of an elected political servant. To John Sidney McCain III, he has always been the entitled master, never a dutiful public servant. It is his due as a McCain. And if you get in his way, he bullies, attacks and vilifies; it is his way, always has been.

Leahy’s article paints a picture of McCain as a man both shallow and hollow, compulsively driven to measure up to both his father and grandfather, both four star command Navy Admirals. The problem was, John Sidney McCain III possessed neither the brains, dedication nor other "right stuff" of his forebears. They were men of distinction; he was a belligerent, self indulgent screw up from early childhood. He was never, never going to attain the command rank of Admiral, much less a four star one. Had McCain not recklessly gotten shot down over Hanoi and been a POW, for five and a half years as he relentlessly reminds us, he may well have been sent packing by the Navy.

So McCain set off to gain the political power and Presidency to which he laid gilded claim. He initially set his beady sights on a Florida district held by a firmly ensconced democrat, Charlie Bennett, but

Republican leaders, citing private polls, told McCain he needed to serve in another office and build his political profile before running for Congress. But McCain was insistent. … "Well, if I can’t beat him, then I’ll find somebody else I can whip."

McCain spent more time with Tower and Cohen, plotting strategy for a 1982 House race. But where should McCain run? "We discussed Florida, because he’d been a resident there," Cohen remembers. "But the thinking became that he should run in Arizona.

Arizona also appeared attractive for reasons that had nothing to do with ideology: Its population was booming … a whole new bloc of voters that McCain and his allies believed would be unmoved by charges that a political upstart from out of state was a carpetbagger.

In early 1981, a recommendation from Cohen led to the first meeting between McCain and political strategist Jay Smith … But Smith was skeptical about an outsider moving to Arizona and running for a congressional seat that didn’t yet exist. "Where in Arizona are you going to do this?" Smith asked him, as the strategist recalls.

" ‘We’ll figure that out,’ " McCain answered.

Of course; because he is John Sidney McCain III, and the angry boy is simply entitled to whatever he lays claim to, without the usual requisite work, knowledge and effort, and woe be anyone that gets in his way. But McCain was a carpetbagger, and the worst kind of narcissistic opportunistic carpetbagger at that.

Jay Smith and other friends remember that McCain’s entry into politics preceded his discovery of a complete set of policy positions, particularly on social and economic matters. While laying the groundwork for the 1982 congressional race, he told Smith that he didn’t have a stance on abortion. When Smith responded that he needed to have one, McCain said he could see both sides. "He wasn’t an issues guy," Smith recalls. "Abortion wasn’t an issue that he cared about or had thought much about. . . . We went through that on a lot of different things."

Friends dating to his days as a midshipman at the Naval Academy can’t remember McCain ever espousing a political philosophy, so it wasn’t a surprise that ideology played almost no role in propelling him into politics.

Leahy’s Post article describes how McCain was hoping to be able to run in a new Congressional district Arizona was gaining due to redistricting from population growth, but that was not to be.

In a blow to McCain’s grand plan, Arizona’s new congressional seat had been placed in the Tucson area rather than Phoenix. But McCain and Smith still entertained a last hope. For a year, Arizona political observers had speculated that John Rhodes, the dean of the state’s House delegation, might be close to retiring from Congress. If Rhodes were to step aside, his solidly Republican 1st District seat in Maricopa County would be ideal turf for McCain.

As a native Arizonan around at that time and very familiar with the Rhodes family, I can tell you that is exactly what happened. But there is much more to this story that Leahy does not relate. Rhodes had been contemplating retirement, but had not made his mind up. In fact, the word was that he was reconsidering and leaning toward one more term, which would have been a boon to the state as Rhodes was a 15 term living institution in Congress and had been minority leader for 3 or four terms; a great man, of incredible stature and accomplishment, still healthy and able to serve.

John J. Rhodes was everything to Arizona that the entitled John McCain has never been; a man who cared about his constituents, who cared about the health and future of the state, and who worked his butt off tirelessly to serve it. John Rhodes was a man, unlike John McCain, who had earned his place and the time and space to determine for himself whether he would continue on in his hometown seat. But that didn’t work for John McCain; it wasn’t convenient for his unbridled ambition. There was a deadline for establishing residency in a district so he could announce his candidacy and that was the one he wanted. But He had to know where he was going to run so he could hastily buy a house in that district to plop his carpetbag down in.

John Sidney McCain III wanted his district, and he wanted it now, and John Rhodes was in his way. As has been his lifelong method, McCain became infuriated and threw a belligerent tantrum. McCain started badgering Rhodes as to whether he was going to retire or not. It did not endear McCain to Rhodes in the least, nor the longtime Arizonans who knew of McCain’s disrespectful antics. Rhodes got so pissed at him that he refused to tell McCain he was retiring and kept telling him he was thinking about running again, even though he had pretty much decided to retire.

Legend has it that it got so bad Barry Goldwater had a little chat with McCain about backing off and giving Rhodes his space and some respect. McCain, of course, ignored him too because he was in a hurry. McCain really wanted Rhodes’ seat, but there was no way he could formally announce before Rhodes announced his retirement. McCain had at least one, maybe two, other lesser options, for a place to make his carpetbag run from, that he was looking at; the new district formed in the more Democratic Tucson area, and at least one, if not more, outside of Arizona. But he needed to get residency wherever it was going to be, and he was not willing to wait for two more years if Rhodes decided to serve one last term. So John Sidney McCain III disrespected both John Rhodes and Barry Goldwater, the living legends of such character and stature that they were the ones called on by Congress to go up to the White House and tell Richard Nixon the gig was up in Watergate and that he had to resign. McCain just bulled his way into that which he felt he was entitled to, as he always has throughout his nepotistic, silver spoon, legacy bequeathed life.

Rhodes finally relented and announced his decision to retire. That still left the gilded McCain with one little problem. He didn’t even live in the district he had just bullied Rhodes out of; he needed a house. Gilded though he was, McCain didn’t have the money to buy a house on the spot, but the fortunate son had a beer heiress sugarmomma wife who did. As Leahy relates in the Post:

Smith was monitoring a Rhodes news conference while talking on the phone with McCain. Learning that Rhodes would not be seeking reelection, the two men shouted excitedly. Later that same day, during another phone conversation, Smith could hear McCain talking to his wife in the background. "Did you buy the house?" McCain asked her.

In the next instant, McCain told Smith, "Cindy just bought us a house in the 1st District."

McCain ended up having three primary-election opponents, but he enjoyed the advantages that counted most in the race: the largest campaign war chest; support from his father-in-law’s and wife’s well-heeled friends and associates, including a Phoenix real estate developer named Charles Keating, who would help to raise more than $100,000; a skillful TV ad campaign from Jay Smith that featured a clip of a limping McCain taking his first steps on American soil after his release from Hanoi; glowing video testimonials from national figures such as Cohen and Tower, the latter of whom came into the 1st District to campaign for McCain; and flattering media attention.

And thus was born the illusory political legend of John Sidney McCain III. As shallow and hollow then as it is now. Natives and other longtime Arizonans remember the arrogant and shameful way McCain started his political career here. They know that John McCain doesn’t give a damn about anything but himself; never has and never will. Barry Goldwater distrusted and disliked him from the moment of his tawdry bullrush of John Rhodes.

"Goldwater said privately that McCain was a carpetbagger," recalls Nixon White House counsel John Dean, a close family friend of the Goldwaters.

Go read the entire article by Michael Leahy, it is excellent. Then couple that with Tim Dickenson’s Rolling Stone tome on McCain and the Los Angeles Times frightening history of McCain as a Naval pilot. John Sidney McCain III is not the man he holds himself out to be, and he never was. He is an angry, narcissistic curmudgeon who should never be given the privilege of unpacking his tattered carpetbag in the hallowed halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

    • scribe says:

      Or like that hat. (I’d love one, but have nowhere to wear it.)

      What are those – pineapples on his head?

      It irritates me no end when people like McCain act the way he did and does and get away with it. And, worse, get kicked upwards.

      I served with another lieutenant whose family was one of those military families, with the old school tie being West Point grey for generations. Colonels and generals back to the Civil War. Not a bad guy, but he got away with stuff I never could.

  1. WilliamOckham says:

    Your post is exactly why I think John Lewis’s comparison of McCain to George Wallace is dead on. The young’uns around here might not realize that George Wallace was never the angry racist he played on TV. He was just another amoral politician who willing to pander to the racists to gain and hold on to power. If folks like John Lewis got beat to a bloody pulp along the way, well, that was a price Wallace was willing to accept.

    Likewise, McCain’s been willing to say anything and do anything to gain the presidency. Btw, my 13 year-old daughter decided that the most appropriate way to refer to McCain is J. Sidney McCain III. I’m not sure why, but I really like that…

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    Politicians frequently buy real estate with elections in mind. It’s not uncommon to see a lot of politicians move right after a redistricting. I want my rep to live here awhile before he moves to DC, so at least he starts out in touch.

    What McBush did is just like what Hillary did. She moved to NY, to a more friendly district and then used her stint as first lady to make up for the fact she was just barely a resident. I’d bet there’s at least one example from each party for each state!

    Boxturtle (But it’s still carpetbagging)

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, but the difference is that Clinton worked hard to learn her state and has actually been a pretty good Senator for New York; McCain hasn’t done squat for Arizona. Ever. The men he replaced, John Rhodes and Barry Goldwater were national giants of a quality that McCain couldn’t even dream of being, and yet they had the time and gumption to always be available for their constituents and did huge things for this state.

      • scribe says:

        True. Strangely enough, they lovve HRC in some of the deepest-red parts of Upstate, simply because she went all retail up there, met people, talked to them, and had studied up on their problems before walking in, so she could listen and talk intelligently.

        She worked that state in a classic grassroots manner, and won over a lot of people who hated her guts when she was First Lady. No one ever seems to notice that.

        • TobyWollin says:

          Yep – Hillary Clinton did her homework – and understood from the get-go that New York State is really two states: Upstate and Downstate. She’s been very effective at knowing both of those places and their issues very very well.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Well, my head exploded and I’ll have to read those linked articles later today.

        I’m astounded at the coherence of your narrative (and links) revealing McSame as power-obsessed. And that motive would help explain his over-reach in nominating Palin in ways that even polls and demographics don’t really make comprehensible.

        As I watched that bizarre Palin nomination, it crossed my mind that some of the old guard, principled GOP statesmen (like Goldwater) must be rolling in their graves. I just can’t imagine Goldwater being that expedient — or desperate! But am I correct…?

        I can’t help but conclude that Cindy’s as ambitious as her husband, although I don’t really get what it is that drives her… unless its ego and celebrity…?

        Whew… McCain’s deceptions really need to be unmasked urgently. The fact that he’s surrounded himself with Rick Davis, Scheuenemann, and the same Rovian creeps who sliced and diced him in 2000 is also explained by your narrative in ways that nothing else really can.

        I can’t fathom Goldwater, if he’d ever lost that 2000 Carolina primary to Bush, ever hiring or tolerating hiring the same guys who operated like that against him. But there’s a certain cold, heartless logic if one only cares about grasping power, without paying attention to the consequences of HOW one obtains it.

        Ick…!

        • bmaz says:

          If somebody had told Barry to put Palin on as his VP he literally would have said, and i can pretty much say this would be word for word accurate, “Go fuck yourself”.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Thanks for the confirmation/reality check.
            I think this post is also in many ways a synopsis of why the GOP has unraveled. But then, I’ve ranted here way too many times about my belief that there’s a linkage between ethics and ability to lead.

            I disagreed with Goldwater, but I’d never accuse him of having been a sleaze. Those old timers were tough and I don’t think they’d have tolerated the Roves or Rick Davis’s we see today.

            But then, they didn’t need to — they knew their issues, and they knew their constituents.

        • TheraP says:

          bmaz, what a tour de force of an article! And calling the man out for what he is! It must give you great joy to be in a position to shout this from the rooftops. And I hope it is disseminated far and wide.

          I concur with you, rOTL, in applauding “the coherence” of bmaz’s “narrative.” Not only does it fit historically with other information out there, but it totally fits with what we are witnessing on a daily basis, and even more importantly, for me as a clinician, this all fits dynamically in terms of what I know of how people tick.

          rOTL, you wonder “what it is that drives” Cindy. I don’t have the reference, but I read last week that she comes from a family where her dad had (ill gotten) money but was seeking social status, a type of neauvoux riche mentality. So it seems that whereas McShame was groomed to lead, Cindy was groomed to marry into aristocracy and thereby move the extended family into high society. Apparently the two parental expectations dove-tailed in this “partnership” for politics. That’s my best guess.

          mcShame is clearly a man of no deep-seated principles, but seems to act in each situation based on the basest of motives in a self-serving way. That someone so completely unfit for high office should be the republican candidate for president, suggests to me, that the Republican Party needs to take a very careful look at how it vets its own candidates.

          When narcissism becomes pathological, you’ve sociopathy. Looks like that to me!

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Quite correct. Hillary has done well for NY as well as herself. McBush only looked out for himself.

        If mcBush sold his soul, I’m pretty sure we’d see it offered on Ebay shortly thereafter.

        Boxturtle (As is. Make offer. No returns. We take Paypal!)

    • freepatriot says:

      Hillary was trying to immitate the Kennedys

      without carpetbagging Kennedys, their family’s congressional seats would be cut in half, no ???

  3. JimWhite says:

    Wow, bmaz, awesome post.

    Only a maverick would piss off the biggest names in his own party and state to start his campaign. It’s kind of hard to understand how he’s made it so far being so unprincipled in an area that had produced highly principled leaders before him.

    • scribe says:

      It’s kind of hard to understand how he’s made it so far being so unprincipled in an area that had produced highly principled leaders before him.

      He follows the one iron-clad rule – make it worth their while. He would be a willing co-participant in whatever they were pushing and that, it appears, was enough to keep him on board.

      Most congresscritters and senators are not nice people, but they still get ahead.

      Arlen Specter is one nasty SoB, maybe worse than McCain in the temper department, but he only got in any trouble – primaried by a Bush-sponsored Chris Toomey before he went off to run the Club for Growth – when he suggested obliquely a bit of wiggle room on the Republican position on abortion vis-a-vis confirmability of judges. That got him back on board and came in handy a year later when O’Connor “retired” (under Bush pressure), Rehnquist died and we got Roberts and Alito for the next thirty years.

  4. Leen says:

    Mr. IGNATIUS: I think if McCain uses these very nasty character references,
    he risks losing his soul. This is what he said he wouldn’t do in this
    campaign.

    MATTHEWS: Wow. Thanks to a great roundtable: Gloria Borger, Howard Fineman,
    Cynthia Tucker and David Ignatius.
    http://www.thechrismatthewssho…../index.php

    MCCAIN “RISKS LOSING HIS SOUL”

  5. Teddy Partridge says:

    Thank you for this excellent first-person recollection.

    McCain’s mythmaking has been the basis of his career trajectory — now that it’s crashing around him, it will be fun to watch.

  6. Loo Hoo. says:

    Excellent, bmaz. Here’s what struck me:

    Carter, himself a Naval Academy graduate, struck McCain as a misguided and ineffectual chief executive. Behind the scenes, the liaison joined high-ranking naval officers in stealthily performing end runs around the administration, lobbying senators on behalf of defense appropriations resisted by Carter, including funding for a new $2 billion nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. McCain’s efforts brought him closer to Senate hawks, particularly Texan John Tower, then the leader of the Republican minority on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    End runs around the President of the United States. What a sleeze.

  7. Lisa Derrick says:

    Thank you. I think Republicans need to see their candidate for what he is: a blemish on Lincoln’s party; an insult to his party’s leaders; a petty tyrant; an uninformed, opportunistic greedy little leech who will do more damage to the GOP that GWB, if that’s possible–and given MCain’s misguided ambition to succeed, it is.

    Also, say what you will about GWB, he at least has a deep faith in God, which is what motivated him to earmark so much money for fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa; he wanted to be remembered for that legacy, for helping to save nations through compassion (and frankly because on the global political scene it was a good move–American drugs and aid go a long way towards building goodwill and “fighting terrorism”). But that somewhat humanitarian and noble goal (even with it’s ulterior motives) was sidetracked, Bush’s faith hijacked, by his advisers who used his God-fearing, God-loving beliefs to justify a war in Iraq.

    McCain seems to see God, if he even give the Divine a second thought, as a constituent to be manipulated.

    • Arbusto says:

      Funny how his deep faith isn’t shown by attending Sunday service but riding his trail bike, nor is it shown by most of his actions by ruining our reputation in the world.

      Most Christians I’ve seen, talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Just as a reminder, Jesus of Nazareth was pretty clear about how we should evaluate those who claim to be followers:

        “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

        In what we call the parable of the sheeps and goats, Jesus described what he was looking for in an adherent. A quick summary of ‘doing’ would be providing food, clothing and shelter for the poor, welcoming aliens, caring for the sick, and looking after those in prison. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine how well any particular politician or party who claims to be a Christian is doing by that measure.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Thx for that.
          So easy to lose sight of these days, but it’s always difficult to make our actions match our words. So easy to have good intentions, so hard sometimes to follow through.

  8. Mary says:

    Great post – kind of needed that Arizonan (ian?ist? *g*) touch to really weave all the threads together.

    4 – Now if we just had any assurance that it was going to be tossed into Mt. Doom instead of kicking off “The Galadriel Years” chapters. The FISA vote and the lack of leadership for years on torture and the 2004 politicking (Bush and I are on the same page for the war now) etc., along with prior efforts to kick people like Krugman to the curb if they aren’t in lockstep, doesn’t leave me all glowy, but let’s hope for the best.

    OT – Bamford feels like Hayden is a liar and a duper and not a great guy, despite their time spent together.

    Apparently Hayden doesn’t give much of a darn about the law, the nation, the Constitution, or oaths of office and his uniform, but he really really likes making powerful people happy with him. What a shock.

    • radiofreewill says:

      Mary – I read the Shane article on Bamford’s book (thanks for the link!), and have to say that while Bamford’s opinion may be that Hayden was ambitious and anxious to please his superiors, there is still enough ‘push-back’ in the article from Hayden’s defenders that – after years of watching – I can’t decide if he’s a good guy, or bad guy.

      Also – Great Post bmaz!

  9. behindthefall says:

    Thanks for the behind-the-scenes descriptions. They explain a lot, and they confirm parts of JMcC’s personality that I was only intuiting before. “Pursuit of Command” is a new and spectacularly empty concept for me. People really think like that, do they? And this is what they look like.

  10. randiego says:

    Great post – agree very comprehensive summary. I’ve already read the Rolling Stone piece, now I’m off to read the LA Times piece.

  11. dosido says:

    OK, I get that McCain is an absolute power hungry nut job. But what I don’t understand is why he was continually re-elected if he didn’t care about Arizona? Do deep pockets go that far in campaigns when the residents despise their representative?

    • bmaz says:

      Got a lot of right wing nuts here and a very efficient GOP machine. Plus, you know, he was a POW. don’t look at just us, the rest of the country has been slurping this bullshit all along too including, most notably, the professional press.

  12. skdadl says:

    Hitchens endorses Obama:

    On “the issues” in these closing weeks, there really isn’t a very sharp or highly noticeable distinction to be made between the two nominees, and their “debates” have been cramped and boring affairs as a result. But the difference in character and temperament has become plainer by the day, and there is no decent way of avoiding the fact. Last week’s so-called town-hall event showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical. And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience. McCain occasionally remembers to stress matters like honor and to disown innuendoes and slanders, but this only makes him look both more senile and more cynical, since it cannot (can it?) be other than his wish and design that he has engaged a deputy who does the innuendoes and slanders for him.

    She’s just a bridge too far, isn’t she, Christopher?

  13. TobyWollin says:

    Just an FYI — McCain is a Class III…he’ll have to run again in 2010. If he loses this election…perhaps there is someone else who can replace him in AZ?

  14. Sara says:

    Carpetbagging goes on all the time — what is of interest is that particular variation of it that Republicans adopted in the wake of the Barry Goldwater loss in 1964, and how they executed it. McCain clearly fits into the assumptions of their program, he is almost a classic type, but the whole strategy is much more vast — and examined carefully, the trail of false assumptions which led to its collapse give us a much more interesting view of politics.

    Much as some may like the person of Barry Goldwater, it is useful to remember what he stood for when he ran in 64. He wanted to end Social Security, he was all for selling off TVA, he wanted to go much further than Taft-Hartley had in making labor organizing difficult, and ultimately ending the power of labor. Much more, but essentially his message was a full blast against the New Deal and its accomplishments. Problem was, he was way too early with that message. There were simply far too many voters around who remembered FDR, the Depression, and his reforms with great favor and respect. But even after the 64 Johnson Landslide, those positions were the core of Republicanism. Just too early.

    Post 64, Republicans understood demographics. New England and the Midwest would gradually experience population loss, followed by loss of congressional seats which were traditionally Democratic. Those seats would move to the Sunbelt. Thus the key was to capture state legislatures in states that gained seats, so as to guarentee they would be drawn with Republican advantage. The assumption was Republicans could accomplish this by 1980 Census, and subsequent redistricting.

    The Republicans made several flawed assumptions here. First, they never captured the West Coast to the extent intended. Part of this was not anticipating the Hispanic migration, and subsequent to citizenship, voting patterns, A second was failure to recognize that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would produce Minority-Majority Southern Districts that would not be available to Republicans, even with the mass shift of Southern Democrats into the Republican Party. A third assumption had to do with not protecting Progressive Republican Districts in New England and the Mid West. There are other flawed assumptions, but the upshot was that come 1980 the overall redistricting plan failed to reach goals. It would in 1990, but in historical terms there was a mis-match. On a national level Republicans successfully elected their Ideal President in 1980, Reagan, but they could not give him the congress necessary to their goals of overturning the New Deal — that would only come with Gingrich in 1994.

    One of the keys to the Republican overall strategy of the mid-60’s was centrally taking over candidate selection — diminishing the power and role of State Parties in deciding who would run for Congress — Senate and House. McCain is in fact, as Bmaz describes him here, the perfect “type” candidate Republicans were looking to elect. Few deep roots in the local community, ideologically at ease with where the Republican Party wanted to go, and thus willing to follow leadership on core matters. Retired Military and Intelligence Community persons were on the A List — they were socialized to follow orders on key strategic questions, and they were unlikely to be deeply connected to a district, state, and its layers of interlocking interests. In the interests of supporting these kinds of homogenized candidates, Republicans centralized their fund raising, their campaign banking, campaign design, literature development and mailings, and much else, certainly including campaign management. They also developed central “schools” for candidates — much of it supported by the interlocking network of think tanks, etc. The system they evolved pretty much guarenteed standardization. And Standardization was key in achieving Republican Goals — namely eliminating virtually all of the New Deal political culture and institutions, which was the core of Barry Goldwater’s program in 1964.

    There is much more to this — but what we are really seeing this election is the real unraveling of the GOP overall strategy that dates back to the mid-60’s. We’ll know for sure when we see where the Democrats are after this election in terms of State Legislatures and Governors, and what kind of assumptions we can make about reapportionment in the wake of 2010, a Census year. In the meantime we may have a two year window that looks a lot like 1933-1937, or 1965-1967 — a time to change and rebuild institutions that have been shredded during the six years the Republicans owned it all between 2001 and 2006.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      If we put all your comments here and at tnh together, we could have an excellent textbook on American political history. I hope folks here appreciate the quality of your analysis. There’s no way to understand where we are as country and where we could go without understand where we’ve been and how we got here. Thanks again for your insight.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I’ll ’second’ Wm O’s synopsis — comments like Sara’s are an antidote to sound bites.

        bmaz, that Rolling Stone article you link to was chilling. And the WaPo definitely committed an act of journalism with the McCain article you linked — very disturbing issues raised by very credible observers — including Sen Pete Domenici (!).

        Wow, this is one very strange election…!

    • TheraP says:

      To put what you’ve said in a nutshell, the repubs were looking for candidates “beholden to Me, but not to Thee.” And by that I mean “owned” by the party and not a servant of “We the People. They were looking for people who would not draw ethical lines.

      And that refers back to my post on boundaries.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Great post over there — esp Palin’s lack of empathy and inability to draw boundaries.
        And yes, it’s really clear how it applies to this post as well.
        Blurred boundaries? Hey, when government IS business — a la Enron, Phil Gramm’s actions in the early 1990s as head of the Senate Banking Committee in order to eradicate bank and insurance regulations — the very point of politics becomes to deliberately blur boundaries.

        Politics becomes business by other means.
        And we end up with Palin and the Rovians, who view politics as serving corporate interests.

  15. Mary says:

    34 – After watching for the same time I don’t have any questions at all. He lied before the 9/11 joint investigation when he said that they were following the same rules before as after 9/11; he lied about datamining; he even tried to both lie about the CONTENT of the 4th Amendment (no warrant clause and no probable cause requirement) but couple that with saying that he and the rest of NSA were schooled to a tee in adherence to the 4th; he fibbed about size, scope and nature; he later fibbed about CIA torture and torture evidence and innocent victims and he does it all with this demeanor of blinky remove that brings to mind a main character from Raiders of the Lost Ark – I think you probably know the one.

    He’s also willingly allowed and participated in selling to Congress the lies about the inability to get emergency surveillance for the kidnap situation when they were trying to jam through earlier rounds of unconstitutional surveillance legislation. He “testified around” matters that he has to have known about, like the hospital showdown, the two FISCt Chief Justices telling DOJ and through DOJ, NSA, that the program was unconstitutional, he’s not blinked at endorsing Executive branch whim over Judicial findings of illegality and unconstitutionality, and he’s whored out the whole of NSA to protect telecoms from Amnesty when the only thing they had as a fig leaf was a MILITARY ORDER to NSA that renewed at intervals as authorization.

    Civilian telecoms gettting expiation for breaking the law bc of a domestically issued and domestically OPERATIVE military order?

    He’s been a lie, wrapped in – another lie, wrapped in an eni…another lie. And he’s knowingly jumped from major felonies at NSA to torture and lies to the courts and evidence destruction at CIA. Why? Bc he would. Not many are that void of value.

    JMO, but a strongly held one.

    • bmaz says:

      Aye; the only alternative to that is that he is an incompetent blind deaf mute so unsuited for the positions he has occupied that he makes Monica Goodling look like Pat Fitzgerald. Of course that isn’t much of an exoneration though….

    • radiofreewill says:

      Mary – I find your assessment of Hayden, and similar prior-expressed sentiment towards Comey, very compelling – they *look* compromised.

      However, while respecting the factual record that you point to, including Comey’s Padilla Presser, I want to ask for consideration on their behalf of possible mitigating circumstances, that are by no means clear, which may serve to expand your consideration.

      My proposition here says that the Bush Administration is littered with good men and good women who found themselves in the almost surreal situation of being told that – in this time of national emergency – President Bush had become Empowered Without Limit in order to Defend the Country from the Forces of Terror – and that Bush had ‘taken-on’ the entire Moral Burden for Doing the Right Thing on Behalf of the Country.

      That’s the only way it could work: he gets the unlimited-President Power, but Solely Owns the Morality of the Use of that Power.

      The impact of introducing a Moral Arbiter above the Structure of the Constitution is hard to estimate, but in the case of the Haydens and Comeys of the Administration, they were immediately confronted with a Serious Conundrum:

      Within the Structure of the Constitution, all these good men and good women were expected to Behave Ethically, with Exemplary Character, because they are Personally Responsible for the Rightness of their Actions – Actions of both Commission and Omission.

      However, just over the line in unlimited-President Land, in BushWorld – Since Bush Owned All the Morality – what was Personal Responsibility for the Rightness of their Actions under the Constitution Was Now “Loyalty.”

      So, the Haydens and Comeys and Goldsmiths found themselves straddling two worlds – Rule-of-Law-Land and BushWorld – and that has proved to be damn tricky for everyone.

      These guys and gals are charged with Leading the War on Terror. They want to put every tool legally possible into the Fight – anything less to them would be Un-Patriotic.

      Right off the bat, Bush tells them – Hey You All, in this time of National Emergency – this Threat to the Existence of the Nation – from Terror – I’m invoking my inherent authority in Article II to become the unlimited-President, the Legality of which is Dependent on Certain Pre-Conditions that will be Re-Certified every 45 days, which are:

      President acting as CIC in Time of War (Afghanistan and Iraq) and National Emergency (Terrorist Alert color-coding).

      So, according to the Never-Judicially-Tested Yoo Theory of the Unitary Executive, that Theory’s proposition for its Legality stood on nothing more than Bush, Cheney, Addington and Gonzo getting together and drawing-up a four page paper that sez: Pres/CIC/War/Emer = Unitary Executive = unlimited President.

      Every 45 days, Ashcroft would turn-on CNN and see for himself that Bush was still President, acting as the Commander in Chief, we were still at War, and Chertoff was Blinking the Terrorist Alert Level like a Semaphore Signal – so, he would sign-off on the Re-Certification of Legality for Bush to have the Powers of the unlimited-President.

      Upon that foundation, Bush demanded Unquestioned Loyalty over Ethical Character Considerations – it was ‘play ball’ or go spend more time with your family.

      It was ‘OK’ with Bush if he pushed his subordinates ‘over the line’ of propriety, out of Loyalty. In fact, many of the early Goopers practically made a cottage industry of demonstrating their loyalty by trashing the ‘rules’ openly – making a fealty offering to Bush – Rove really liked it.

      But many of the good men and good women really struggled hard with the horns of the Bush Dilemma:

      Loyalty to a Legally Empowered unlimited-President or Maintenance of Professional Ethical Responsibility on Behalf of his or her Constitutional Organization?

      So, all the good men and good women slopped around for years, inside the system, trying to get their arms around what the hell was going on. This was made all the more difficult because Bush invoked his unlimited-President Powers in Secret. Trying to even ‘define’ approaches to Test the Beast must have seemed like swinging blindly at a pinata, with no luck for years, until Comey finally broke through.

      But, along the way, all those good men and good women splashed all over the line of legality. All of them, who spent any meaningful amount of time in BushCo, look ethically/legally challenged from some angles – and some of them are, I’m certain, actually ethically/legally challenged.

      But, I give them all the benefit of the doubt for now. Here’s why:

      Bush Failed in His End of the UE Proposition. He was supposed to take-on the Entire Nation’s Moral Responsibility for Action Against Terror, otherwise he couldn’t actually be the unlimited-President.

      So, Bush Should have been The Moral Beacon for All of US. The absolute paragon of virtue – the very embodiment of American Honor, Prestige and Reputation – The Shining Example for All of US.

      If that Were the case, then I believe Hayden, Comey, Goldsmith, et al, would have had No Problem ’seeing’ clear bright lines of legality springing from the Treasure Chest of 230 years of Precedent and Law. We would have pursued Al Qaeda, with focused purpose and maximum legal force – backed by everything good Our Forebears ever bequeathed to US, as well as everything that Our Global Neighbors have respected US for as Peacemakers.

      But, Noooooooooo! Instead, the example of Bush produced Torture, Domestic Surveillance, Firing USAs for Dis-Loyalty, Outing a Spy to Discredit a Critic, and at least an Outrage a Day for eight years.

      I’m trying to say that in many cases, especially those who straddled the boundary between the Constitution and the UE, imvho, it would be presumptive at this point to – in many cases – to ‘tag’ someone as a bad guy before we know the extent to which Bush’s Complete Lack of Moral Conscience, working behind a screen of Secrecy, may have manipulated them ‘over the line.’

      I suspect a lot of good Americans had their Patriotic Fervor Duped Right Out of them in nefarious service to Bush’s “Above the Law, and Beyond Right and Wrong” Anything-to-Win Ideology.

      There just doesn’t seem to be any way anyone could have ’stayed in the system to fix it’ without getting covered in bush-slime in the process.

      But, all this is just my best guess, and comes with all the usual caveats and fine print…

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I think you’re on to something.
        It’s tough when you know that the only way to undercut a pack of duplicitous bastards is to ‘hang in there’ and keep copying (and storing away) documents, data… hoping for the day when either an outside atty can use it, or you can use it yourself.

        Just thinking of Moro makes me heartened.
        And he had allies; surely, there are more.