is something deliciously appropriate about William Kristols
hysterical embrace of Sen. John McCain. Kristol and McCain
have for some time been two of the most pernicious figures
in American politics. They fell in love last year as the
bombs were dropping on Belgrade. Every 15 minutes or so
one or the other would be on the box demanding the death
of yet more Serbs and the introduction of "ground troops."
For some years now Kristol had been searching for some larger-than-life
man who would succeed in realizing his puerile dream of
"national greatness." McCain clearly is this man.
All one needs is empty bluster and limitless self-righteousness.
a recent issue of The Weekly Standard Bill
Kristol and David Brooks announced that "John McCain
is taking on the Republican establishment
and Gingrich, McCain makes the corporate and lobbyist types
nervous." Corporate and lobbyist types nervous? They
have to be kidding. McCains entire careerincluding
marriage to the heiress to one of the nations largest
Anheuser-Busch distributorships after he returned from Vietnam
and dropped his first wifeis testimony to the power
of corporate America.
has spent all his time hanging around with corporate lobbyists,
showering political favors hither and yon in return for
campaign contributions. For all his vaunted combativeness,
he has always taken on only the easiest of targets. He is
against "pork." (Who isnt?) He is against
the tobacco industry. (Okay, but he is for the alcohol
industrythe family connection helps.) He is against
"soft money" even as he helps himself to large
dollops of "hard money."
he is the noisiest of patriots. He wants to pick a fight
with everyone. American "values" are always on
the line. The "rogue states" are always about
to commit dastardly deeds. During last years murderous
spree, egged on by the war-crazed media, he talked as if
he really believed he was the commander-in-chief. "When
I urged the President of the United States not to rule out
the option of ground forces," he declared sonorously,
"then I also assumed responsibility for what may be
the loss of young Americans lives... I dont
know how it affects my campaign. But Ive basically
put my campaign on hold to some degree."
senator gassing away with Bob Novak or Bernie Shaw in the
middle of the afternoon has not "assumed responsibility"
for anything. Nor was he unaware how his demagoguery was
playing in the media.
the past three years McCain has used his chairmanship of
the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Science Committee
to squeeze campaign contributions from huge corporations.
McCains biggest campaign contributors all have business
before his committee. New Times Amy Silverman has
reported that people who testified before the committee
between January 1997 and November 1999 donated nearly $800,000.
They made the contributions personally or through their
employers PACs. Of those who testified, representatives
of industry outnumbered consumer groups by more than 10
to one. Witnesses for industry accounted for all of the
contributions. Companies like America Online, EchoStar,
Union Pacific and US Westall of whom regularly have
business before his committeehave hosted fundraisers
biggest contributor to McCain has been the telecommunications
industry, which has contributed almost $1 million. That
includes US West, Bell South and Bell Atlantic, which are
trying to get into the long-distance telephone service and
Internet access business. And McCain is pushing telecommunications
legislation to do just that. Viacom, Boeing and AT&T
are all major contributors to McCain. McCains committee
oversees the Federal Aviation Administration; McCain has
received at least $83,900 from major airline employees and
their PACs. Overall he has received at least $182,000 from
the aviation industry. Not coincidentally, Congress gutted
the so-called Airline Passenger Bill of Rights. For years
McCain has tried to win an increase in the number of slots
at Reagan National Airport for the Arizona-based America
West Airlines. America West Airlines has donated at least
$11,500 to McCain.