Monday, September 3, 2018

John McCain and the Politics of What Matters

Patriotism is an odd quality. Together with its sibling ideal nationalism, it can be turned to the most invidious of purposes. Patriotism has often justified imperialism of all varieties from the Nazi invasion of Europe to the CIA's deposing of leaders like Mossadegh in Iran and Allende in Chile. At the funeral of John McCain an other side of patriotism was movingly dramatized and that's the subsuming of the self to a greater cause. Certainly that's what great moments in American history like D-Day are all about. It's a project that was exemplified by McCain’s life and his choice of former rivals (in particuolar Bush and Obama) to speak at his funeral. You might not like or agree with him but Joe Lieberman gave one of the most moving testaments to the humor, civility and irascability of the man in describing the history of his friendship with his former colleague. McCain's life elicited a profound meditation on human existence from Henry Kissinger. In fact the presence of former adversaries along with one significant exclusion (that of president Trump) turned the ceremony into one of the most powerful political statements of recent times. No revelation about strippers, no inquiry about Russian interference into the 2016 campaign could compete. It was a reminder of everything that's good about America and a real reason why Americans can and should experience feelings of pride which is also a form of faith. Meghan McCain cited a Greek historian when she said “the image of great men is woven into the stuff other men’s lives.” She also said, "The America of John McCain doesn't need to be made great again because it always was great." Obama quoted from one of McCain's favorite books For Whom the Bell Tolls when he said, Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.” This is the kind of discourse John McCain inspired. His funeral was a shot in the arm to principles like free speech, due process and to documents like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights whose primacy is increasingly being forgotten in the current state of siege which characterizes American politics. You don't have a booming economy or any economy without people.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.