The American Interest

An American Non-Hero

Sen. John McCain’s death at 81 on August 25 was followed by effusive praise from everyone who is anyone in the Permanent State.  His memorial service at Washington’s National Cathedral on September 1 confirmed that, inside the Beltway, even death is eminently political.  It was the biggest gathering of the nation’s bipartisan establishment and its global associates in years, with President Donald Trump excluded at the well-advertised wish of the deceased.  Gushing eulogies from Barack Obama and George W. Bush helped turn the occasion into a studied display of establishmentarian solidarity in opposition to Trump, just as McCain had intended it to be.

As for the media, the New York Times set the tone, eulogizing a “war hero” who was driven by “the conservative instincts of a shrewd military man” and the spirit of “rebelliousness.”  These key themes were repeated by obituarists and pundits all over the land, and also included praise for McCain’s supposed courage, honor, decency, vision, steadfastness, etc., ad nauseam.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum should not apply to politicians whose actions directly impact the lives of millions of people.  The real John McCain was not a hero, a conservative, or a rebel.  He was shrewd indeed, in the sly manner of an arch-D.C. insider.  Son and grandson of admirals...

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