Won’t Be Fooled McCain

Ever wonder what the French word is for “flip-flop,” that term that after all has become a key component of mainstream American political discourse over the past couple decades, but particularly in the early political campaigns of the 21st century? It’s revirement. (Look, you just knew that it had to sound rather more elegant in French than in English, did you not?) I was spurred to this little bit of self-education by the brief article on John McCain by Prof. Ibrahim Warde of Tufts University, in this month’s issue of Le Monde Diplomatique (John McCain, le revenant, and I’m leaving that title in the original French because the translation of revenant in this context is not straight-forward: my Larousse says “ghost, spook” but also in the sense of “stranger” or “back from the dead” – Prof. Warde could very well be calling Senator McCain the “come-back kid” here). Then the article’s sub-title (placed, however, above its main title) is “Between Flip-Flops and Compromise.”

Whatever Prof. Warde is choosing to call McCain in the article’s title, its purpose is definitely to prevent any illusions over the presumptive Republican Party candidate from lingering for long in the consciousness of the newspaper’s readers. Like he’s some sort of “maverick”; like he is truly ready to sacrifice his political career on some matter of principle. No, as Prof. Warde makes clear, John McCain is thoroughly a product of the “establishment,” whose wholesale changes-of-tack (i.e. revirements on issues such as the Christianist Right and Iraq and even support of George W. Bush generally are there, plain to see to anyone who will but look.

Prof. Ward takes us briefly back to the 1980s days of the “Keating Five” scandal that Sen. McCain found himself caught up in, and in his latest presidential campaign which in the summer of 2007 seemed to be going down the drain. But he survived both these setbacks by adopting a clear methodology: that of seducing the journalistic establishment that is so influential in forming public opinion, by emphasizing his ordeal of five years of torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese, and by keeping himself extraordinarily open to, and seemingly candid with, journalists of all stripes.

He ends his piece with a reference to McCain’s stated willingness to keep US troops in Iraq for a hundred years. This does unfortunately underline the perils of trying to issue commentary on current affairs in the pages of a monthly newspaper, since recent developments there have made such a stance increasingly obsolete. On the other hand, interested readers are referred in his footnotes to three volumes to consult for more details (only one available in French), all of which (from their titles) approach McCain from the same ultra-skeptical perspective.

Make no mistake: a publication like Le Monde Diplomatique (and Le Monde itself, for that matter) is never going to endorse any American conservative for any elected position. (Obama himself is probably too right-wing for their taste in his positions as well, although certainly the lesser of two evils.) However, just in case the newspaper’s readers had inadvertently found themselves caught up in John McCain’s engaging manner and inspiring personal history of sacrifice to his country – perhaps suffering from the certain obfuscation that comes with sporadically observing something happening an ocean away, and in another culture and language – Prof. Warde’s posting from his observation post in Massachusetts is there to set them straight.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Comments are closed.