Thursday October 19, 2017
Some people are living symbols, sheer embodiments of a concept that fits their persona as snugly as their skin: e.g. the Dalai Lama personifies Contemplative Piety, Harvey Weinstein is the incarnation of Brazen Vulgarity, and John McCain’s very person exudes the sweaty blustery spirit of Empire. His entire history – born in the Panama Canal zone, son of an admiral, third-generation centurion, the War Party’s senatorial spokesman – made it nearly impossible for him to be other than what he is: the country’s most outspoken warmonger and dedicated internationalist.
As George Orwell remarked, “After forty, everyone has the face they deserve,” and in McCain’s case this is doubly true. That Roman head, fit for a coin of high denomination, looks as if it might sprout a crown of laurel leaves at any moment: Grizzled brow, wrinkled with the tension of an inborn belligerence, eyes alight with a perpetual flame of self-righteous anger, McCain is Teddy Roosevelt impersonating Cato the Elder. In the extreme predictability of his warlike effusions, he’s become a bit of a cartoon character. Who can forget his enthusiastic rendition of “Bomb bomb bomb Iran!” to the tune of “Barbara Ann”?
The Senator from Arizona represents something relatively new on the American scene: the emerging class of colonial administrators, Pentagon contractors, and high-ranking military personnel, and their families, many of them stationed overseas. These people have a material interest in the expansion of our role as global cop, they number in the tens of thousands, and they are strategically placed in the social order, with enough social power to constitute an influential lobby.