Newsweek of McCain’s Implosion: America ‘Won’t Listen to a Military Man’ Anymore

**Note: It’s been requested that I republish one from July 31 of 2007. So, here it is…

-By Warner Todd Huston

One of the chief reasons that Republicans in general and Conservatives in particular were always wary of John “the maverick” McCain is the slobbering love that the MSM so constantly lavished upon him. The MSM is so distrusted that their love for McCain relayed to the country that there must be something wrong with him. As his campaign descends into ever lower depths of disarray, we may begin to see the MSM fall to the floor in abject lamentations over his demise. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth now that their favorite Republican looks to be a goner, at least if Michael Hirsh of Newsweek is any indication. In “Why McCain’s Collapse Matters”, Hirsh not only laments McCain’s diminishment of influence, but blames the American people for not listening to military “heroes” on how evil this war is. Hirsh also uses his piece as an excuse to repeatedly bash Fred Thompson using the media’s “He’s just an actor” mantra. Naturally, Hirsh learns all the wrong lessons from his review of history and displays it in this little tsk tsking tirade aimed at the American people for their gall in not fawning over McCain like the MSM does.

Hirsh starts out bashing Fred Thompson by reminding us that Thompson was still playing his “tough D.A.” role on TV as McCain was supposedly living that role in real life while he was giving Donald Rumsfeld a piece of his mind during an appearance on the Hill by Rummy early in the Iraq war. Hirsh rightfully bemoans the fact that Donald Rumsfeld was not listening to McCain’s correct advice at that time. McCain was calling for more troops at that early stage but Rummy thought the Administration’s own strategy of fewer troops and quicker “Iraqification” was better. Hirsh is mistaken to imagine that Bush was led by the nose by Rummy, however. It was Bush’s strategy, not just Rumsfeld’s. Hish is correct that McCain’s ideas of a “surge” before there was one was dead on. But, from this point Hirsh flies off track and runs wildly into the tall grass.

Hirsh claims that “McCain’s fellow Republicans … are insisting on success in an impossible nine months (by September, that is). That’s a benchmark Gen. David Petraeus and others in the Iraq command realize is simply untenable.” But, this is simply not true. A few Republicans may be hoping that it happens, but most are calling for, at the very least, time enough to give the surge a chance and wait for General Petraeus’ report before making any further decisions. Few are claiming it will all be fixed and over in a mere matter of months.

After this bit of nonsense, Hirsh attacks Thompson yet again.

Oh yeah, and Fred Dalton Thompson is still acting on TV, having abandoned Washington for Hollywood five years ago, in the middle of the biggest national crisis since Vietnam. Presumably Thompson will keep acting until he announces for president, which some politicos think will instantly make him the front runner in a field that apparently no longer has room for John McCain. Thompson is, after all, a very good actor—an even better one, many say, than Ronald Reagan was.

“Oh yeah.” No he isn’t. Nice Reagan swipe by lefty, Hirsh, too. You mean that “actor” Ronald Reagan who won the Cold War? That “actor” ya mean? One would think that because of all the accomplishments that Reagan had by the end of his successful presidency, a serious political commentator would long ago have dropped the “he’s just an actor” line. Obviously not so with the 1970’s centric leftism of a Michael Hirsh.

Some might say that Hirsh is “acting” like a political analyst at this point.

But it gets worse with the Thompson bashing and one wonder’s why Thompson is continually thrust into a discussion of McCain’s failures? Of course, the answer is that the MSM fears a Thompson candidacy because it just might be a successful one and they are trying to stop it before it starts.

In any case, Hirsh next bashes the American public as “besotted with ‘reality’ TV shows”, calls both Bush and Cheney “draft dodgers,” and calls John Kerry a “Silver Star winner” even though he is suspected of wounding himself in Vietnam so he could get a medal. And for a third time in the same piece, he hints that Thompson is just an actor playing a part. Then Hirsh shows his respect for McCain’s “self-deprication” because McCain refuses to take notice of his campaign’s self-destruction.

But, here we get to the main thrust of Hirsh’s criticism of the American people. We are all just too stupid to listen to the “real” military men in this war which is why, according to Hirsh, we didn’t elect Wesley Clark, why we won’t rise to “draft” Anthony Zinni for office, why the droning Chuck Hagel is being ignored, and why McCain is losing his approval among the voters. To prove it Hirsh quotes war critic Anthony Zinni as saying that “all the generals see it the same (being his) way,” which wasn’t true when he said it either, and approvingly quotes Hagel to the effect that supporters of the war in Iraq “want to rush this country into war and think it would be so quick and easy,” when few people ever made such a statement. Apparently Hirsh is unaware that Bush, for one, said the war would be one of decades in length. So, because we didn’t listen to Hirsh’s idea of the perfect military strategists, Americans are somehow ignoring all of them.

Hirsh harkens back to the fact that we elected generals before (George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower as Hirsh cites) and seems to cry that this is no longer so. I have one fact about our past generals who made it to the highest office in the land, though. They were generals of wars we WON. None of the men that Hirsh holds up as the same caliber as George Washington won anything… including a following who might support them for the presidency.

Hirsh conflates the US people’s respect for their soldiers with an assumption that such respect should translate into an automatic suitability for office. “Americans can’t get enough of praising our military men and women in public,” Hirsh scoffs. He later concludes that because we love our solders we should ignore any misstep a candidate who once served in the military makes on the campaign trail. “But it does seem to me that if we’re going to lionize our military heroes in public we ought to cut them some more slack on the campaign trail.”

Hirsh seems not to recognize that the Founding Fathers, George Washington’s service or no, never wanted the military to be either a prerequisite for office nor a proving ground for candidates for a reason. But, who cares about the basic ideas of our government are, eh? Certainly not Hirsh.

Hirsh doesn’t elaborate satisfactorily upon why it is that we should give candidates with military pasts a break on the campaign trail. He just makes the statement as if it were axiomatic. This is odd because it seems to be his main point of criticism here. One would think Hirsh would expound further on this theory since it seems to be the crux of his argument.

So here is his last point, such as it is. Because Hirsh can cite one instance where McCain was right about something, we should all “think about giving John McCain another chance.” Hirsh does not mention once the many dozens of reasons WHY the GOP base refuses to support John McCain — from his unbelievable support of McCain-Feingld to his membership of the infamous “Gang of 14.” This shows to Hirsh’s complete lack of substance on the whole issue of John McCain’s suitability as the nominee of the very Party at which he has so continuously stuck out his tongue.

The whole thing comes down to the obvious conclusion that Hirsh thinks we should vote McCain just because Hirsh says so or because, as a society, we “lionize” our military. Neither reason holds much water with a thinking voter, for sure.

But, this does go to show that the MSM loves their “maverick” Senator, no matter if it makes sense or not. Oh, and they hate Fred Thompson and Ronald Reagan.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001