The Always Classy Mccain

by TNR Staff, TNR Staff | October 25, 2007

 I noticed in The New York Times this morning that John McCain's new ad echoes some comments he made at a recent debate. From the ad:

A  few days ago,  Senator Clinton tried to spend  $1 million on the Woodstock concert museum.  Now, my friends, I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time. No one can be president of the United States that supports projects such as these.

Wrapped up in his plea for fiscal "restraint" is a more powerful message. McCain, you might be surprised to learn, fought in Vietnam and was even tortured. During this time, a bunch of drug-crazed hippies were partying at Woodstock and burning the flag. Guess which side of the cultural "divide" Senator Clinton falls on?

Now, people who were in the antiwar movement might make the simple observation that hippies were often not in fact political, and that the counterculture movement and the struggle against military action in Indochina were separate, if overlapping, phenomena. Something tells me this point is lost on McCain, but so be it.

What I get from the Times story, and from McCain's comments at the debate, is that he has not just become shameless about promoting his heroism in Vietnam (see Jon's post below), but now feels the need to smear those who initially opposed the war he now admits was misguided.

This is a neat trick, and consistent with McCain's (and conservatism's) modus operandi. So, for instance, McCain exhibits no anger toward Henry Kissinger (who advises the senator on foreign policy), and instead decides to take some cheap shots at all those rich college kids who always thought the war was wrong and spent years fornicating at debauched concerts. But wait, isn't Kissinger the man who helped sabotage the Paris Peace Talks (and thus the Humphrey campaign) in 1968, only to accept a similar deal (and the Nobel Prize) five years later? I think he is! And wasn't McCain "tied up" during that time? I think he was! Oh well--when wars go bad the only people to blame are the ones who never had the "stomach" to fight it in the first place.

--Isaac Chotiner 

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