Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dislike McCain then you must hate the military

There is an essay up on today's Front Page Magazine by Dan Rabkin about a New York Times article which attempts to be an "expose" of the "links" between the Pentagon and the retired general officers who now work as analysts for the media. It seems that the NYT thinks that there is something surprising and possibly sinister about the fact that retired generals would have ties to the Pentagon and to the defense industry. The Times also finds the fact that most of these retired officers are generally supportive of the war and the military to be proof of the fact that they are little more than puppets whose strings are being pulled by the administration.

Mr. Rabkin does a good job of mocking the left-wing anti-war NYT's hysterics however his article takes the position that bringing any criticism against these retired military officers represents a trashing of all veterans. Early in his essay Rabkin inserts this completely gratuitous paragraph:

The first piece, titled “For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk,” was published on February 21st. The article, heavy on drama and light on sources, attempted to brand Sen. John McCain a philandering, lobbyist-bedding, crook. Some might say that as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee McCain is fair game for such liberal-media hit jobs. Be that as it may, the fact that the paper was willing to publish such a low-grade attack on a decorated veteran was a revealing demonstration of its deep-seated contempt for the military.

This reference to a NYT article which referenced the fact that McCain once had a close relationship with an attractive female lobbyist, a relationship which some of his staffers feared was "too close", was gossipy and many on the right thought it was an inappropriate low blow (although I don't recall any of those right wingers complaining about the American Spectator's "troopergate" stories).

In my view the Times piece was entirely appropriate because one of McCain's primary selling points to the American public is his supposed honor and integrity. This makes the microscopic examination of all of McCain's personal and public relationships entirely fair just as the fact checking of all of Hillary Clinton's stories about dodging sniper fire or bringing peace to Northern Ireland is fair. Hillary is trying to sell herself on her experience and so her supposed experience is a legitimate subject for inquiry.

Dan Rabkin's attempt to close off any criticism of McCain by framing it as an attack on a veteran which reveals a "deep seated contempt for the military" is a cheap attempt to shield McCain from attacks against his most vulnerable area, what George Will calls McCain's "towering moral vanity".

McCain's absolute faith in his own purity and moral rectitude and his tendency to define the honorable as "anything which John McCain thinks or does at any given moment in time" blind him to the danger of questionable acts or associations. How convenient for McCain and his sycophants if anyone who points out anything negative about the Arizona Senator is simply an anti-military quack spitting on a veteran.

Does Mr. Rabkin think that any criticism of John Kerry or Jack Murtha is just a symptom of contempt for the military? McCain himself came close to that attitude when he damned the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth when they dared to tell the truth about John Kerry's inflated claims of heroism on the battlefield.

As this political season advances expect McCain's kool-aid drinkers to become ever more hysterical as their candidate is brought under ever more intense scrutiny. Some of the left-wing media's attacks will be unfair but many of them will not be and it will be the shots which strike a legitimate target that generate the loudest cacophony of shrieks from McCain's self-appointed defenders.