So Senator Straight Talk has decided to make nice to Team Bush. He wrote the bill that put a ban on torture, a bill which Bush threatened to veto, then signed with a signing statement that rendered it meaningless, while torture continued in practice at least until the Hamdan decision ruled in effect that torture constituted a war crime under U.S. criminal laws. But what’s a little torture among friends?
Meanwhile, President Sticks To His Principles seems ready to sell out Senator Straight Talk’s “balanced” immigration package and go with “enforcement-only” plus a figleaf. Yet there’s no hint that Senator Straight Talk regards this as a betrayal.
In fact and in truth, McCain and Bush are virtually identical products: both are right-wing by instinct, but neither will allow his policy views to get in the way of his relentless pursuit of power. Neither can be bothered with the facts, and both have short attention spans, enormous egos, and hair-trigger tempers.
Yes, there are differences: McCain is a war hero who was tortured himself and disapproves of the practice. Bush is a chickenhawk who has never faced any pain that wasn’t self-inflicted and seems to get off on torture. McCain married money (dumping an inconveniently non-wealthy first wife in the process), while Bush made his money via crony capitalism and eminent domain.
But when push comes to shove, they’re more or less on the same side. Now that they’re no longer competing for the Presidency, they’re natural allies. I expect Bush’s admirers to adjust quickly to the new alliance; the certifiably crazy McCain who hated free speech (because he supported limits on legalized bribery) will disappear down the usual memory hole.
But what about McCain’s admirers (Marshall Whitman and Ana Marie Cox, to name two more or less at random)? They saw in him, or claimed to see in him, independence and integrity. Will they now recognize that they’ve been duped, and react with appropriate outrage?