Last week, John McCain stepped forward to make a joint statement with fellow Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat, criticizing President Trump strongly and demanding a new course of action.
What action? Why, a hawkish foreign-policy move, of course. The statement criticized the White House for delaying a move to further sanction Russia’s intelligence and defense sectors, designed to punish Moscow for any role it played in Hillary Clinton losing in 2016.
“The delay calls into question the Trump administration’s commitment to the sanctions bill which was signed into law more than two months ago, following months of public debate and negotiations in Congress,” the statement read. “They’ve had plenty of time to get their act together."
McCain has been hailed as a hero by Democrats in recent days. (He must have seriously reformed after being a white supremacist, and a liar, while campaigning against Obama in 2008.) McCain destroyed the seven-year Republican dream to dismantle Obamacare when just after midnight on July 28th the senator rocked the Senate floor by walking in and giving a dramatic thumbs-down to the secretary.
With 48 Democrats and two fellow Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, McCain simultaneously gave the Democrats a miraculous win and handed the Trump administration an embarrassing legislative setback.
But is that the real reason McCain is so beloved among Dems? In 2013, Mother Jones famously ranked John McCain's lust to attack and invade various countries around the world in “Angry McCain” heads. The list included the usual suspects, like Syria and Libya. "Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary," McCain said about Syria, "but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do so is with foreign air power.”
But there were strange countries on McCain's hit-list as well, including Nigeria, Bosnia, and China. McCain told reporters “If [Bosnians] were equipped, especially with TOW missiles, some heavy armor, some tanks, then I think that we could foresee a stable situation.” He surely did not intend the thick irony of those remarks.
Is it any coincidence that McCain is currently more popular with mainstream Democrats than Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich or any of the other stringent liberal anti-war voices in Washington? Would he be allowed to act as the Dems’ token Republican “mascot” in the fight against the White House, were he not willing to help keep the military-industrial complex running at full steam?
Democrats in 2016 signaled that they had become an aggressive war party with the selection of Hillary Clinton as nominee. The former Secretary of State has quietly pushed the idea of using military force to achieve the aims of the United States, even instigating force. Clinton has been a war hawk for most of her career, and stood as much more interventionist than either of the other two major contenders in the election.
What was supposed to be your typical, boring DNC convention in Philadelphia suddenly changed when Wikileaks attacked. The gathering was greeted by an onslaught of supposedly Russian-hacked e-mails outing a rotten scheme to cheat Bernie Sanders. Speaking to the press, Robby Mook and others began and finished every sentence with “Russia” or “act of war.” But deep down, Democratic leaders were likely feeling more threatened by Sanders and his views than by Vladimir Putin.
Sanders had given a memorable anti-war speech at Westminster College in which he flatly rejected decades of Washington foreign policy. “Let me be clear: Foreign policy is directly related to military policy and has everything to do with almost seven thousand young Americans being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tens of thousands coming home wounded in body and spirit from a war we should never have started. That’s foreign policy. And foreign policy is about hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan dying in that same war,” Sanders said, later quoting Dwight Eisenhower on how funds for war abroad should be used for aid to the poor at home.
Stump speeches like that – from a candidate who nearly won the nomination for POTUS – had to be more unnerving to the Democratic Party than any Russian bots on Twitter.
Let’s consider the inner-party politics. Tom Perez, a conformist DNC hack, and its current chairman, won an election against top challenger Keith Ellison in February. Ellison is known to be less bellicose toward the Middle East and North Korea than many of his colleagues.
Lo and behold, Ellison was conveniently branded an "anti-semite" for just the amount of time it took to persuade party leaders to vote for Perez. Jesse Myerson of The Washington Post explained his shock and befuddlement at the time:
‘It all happened so suddenly. Two weeks ago, the ADL’s national director Jonathan Greenblatt regarded Ellison as “a man of good character” in emailed remarks to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Now, per an official ADL release, Ellison’s views on the Israel-Palestine conflict are “both deeply disturbing and disqualifying.” What changed?’
What changed is that when push comes to shove, the establishment wing of the Democratic Party doesn’t want a peace-monger anywhere near the controls. Neoconservatives like McCain are allies because the DNC itself is run by neoconservatives.
A visit to Twitter or Facebook reveals that plenty of Clinton voters think – or pretend to think – that President Trump is going to start a nuclear war that will end the world. These citizens are viewed as useful idiots by the D.C. establishment. Clinton might have instigated war against five or ten countries during a four-year term, but there is reward in maintaining the illusion of a “peace” party going up against a GOP full of hawks…at least toward those constituents who lean Democrat and don’t follow the news closely.
Democrats are fine with Trump making war and prodding nations with sanctions and rhetoric. They just want him to be at war with who they want him to be warring with – namely Russia and Syria.
CNN, practically a paid infomercial for the DNC at this point, offered rare praise for Trump after the President sent Tomahawk missiles to destroy an Assad airbase. “Donald Trump became the President of the United States today,” gushed Fareed Zakaria.
Trump, the ultimate two-faced pragmatist, clearly felt early in his presidency that tacking-neoconservative on military intervention would score political points with the mainstream. Instead, it has given Democrats an opening to out-Trump the Orange One. Deals and alliances are firmly in place, and the partisan public is still blinded to the Coke-Pepsi dichotomy. Trump is being attacked on military policy by three camps instead of one.
The popular talking point at the 2016 Democratic National Convention – Russia, Russia, Russia – was a sinister diversion tactic that has grown into a costly Red Scare and the threat of a new Cold War. But Democrats have succeeded in branding the President for the same sins they stealthily commit.