"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“A Terminally Angry Man”: John McCain’s Dark Quest For Relevancy Has Turned Him Into A Comic Book Villain

It’s a story as old as literature and as modern as a current edition of a Marvel comic book.

A once young and talented protagonist sets out on the road to glory, intent on using his special abilities for the good of mankind in his noble quest to become a hero of mythic proportion.

Along the way, life deals our hero a catastrophic blow—one that turns our protagonist away from the road of righteousness and onto the very different and destructive path of the antagonist. Suddenly, his clarity altered by the indignities, disappointments and tragedies life has unexpectedly visited upon him, our hero resolves to prove to the world the terrible mistake they made when casting him aside—no matter what it takes to do so.

You see, in our character’s mind, he is not the evil one. It is the world that is to blame for failing to accept the greatness our once heroic figure so generously offered to us, something the world will finally understand when our protagonist—now the antagonist—forces us to acknowledge his worthiness, even if it means using dark and dastardly methods to make us appreciate the terrible error the world or, in this case, his country has made in rejecting him.

Earlier this week, as I watched Senator John McCain threaten, during a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer, to lead an effort to take the world’s economies hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling until he accomplishes the spending cuts he desires, I could not help but be reminded of this classic, “hero to villain” literary scenario just as I could not help but feel profound sadness for the transformation that has taken place in this man I once respected—a transformation that can be traced directly to the disappointment McCain suffered when losing his life’s objective, the presidency of the United States.

If you doubt the impact of McCain’s threat, you need only consider the words of Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics and one-time senior economic advisor to John McCain’s presidential campaign:

The cornerstone of the global financial system is that the United States will make good on its debt payments. If we don’t, we’ve just knocked out the cornerstone and the system will collapse in turmoil.”

This is, indeed, very serious business.

And yet, the 2013 version of John McCain was giddy with joy as he filled the television screen with his warnings of the havoc he plans to rain down upon the American and world economies via the hostage drama the Senator and his accomplices are cooking up, a drama that could aptly be billed as “Debt Ceiling II- Revenge Of The Republicans.”

I have no objection to Senator McCain having his position on spending reduction, although I think he would be far more credible on the subject if he was willing to, at the least, choose to consider spending cuts in all government programs— including his beloved defense budget—rather than looking solely to entitlements as the object of his chainsaw’s desires.

I also recognize that a majority of Americans likely share the GOP’s belief that spending cuts are required if we are to get the nation on a more realistic and sustainable financial footing. And while the timing of such cuts remains a critical question—lest we bring our economic recovery to a screeching halt by cutting too deeply and too quickly—getting things on the right track will no doubt involve changes to our entitlement programs just as we will need to alter our defense spending habits.

However, using the threat of destroying the world’s economies to accomplish the direction preferred by McCain, and those who share his objectives, is a plot line far better suited to an old James Bond movie than it is to a rational policy discussion among the leaders of the world’s largest economic power, the United States of America.

Certainly, no American should be willing to stand for anyone who would adopt the tactics of fictional villains as the means to accomplish their wants and desires—even if they believe that their desires are in the best interests of the nation. There is no shortage of leverage points available to Senator McCain in pursuing his agenda—none of which involve taking our nation, and by extension, the nations of the word, hostage by threatening to do unspeakable damage in order to get his way.

You have to ask yourself whether—prior to suffering the loss of the presidency—the one-time “Maverick of the Senate” would have so much as considered blackmail as an acceptable tactic in pursuing a policy direction he believed to be in the nation’s interest.

I truly do not think so.

McCain of old would have hit the television talk show circuit and done his best to sell his countrymen on the merits of his position—not hold a gun to the nation’s head until we cried ‘uncle’. The McCain of old would have campaigned for his point of view with the self-effacing charm and reasonableness we came to expect of him, maybe even dropping by “Saturday Night Live”—the comedy program he used to regularly appear on for a quick cameo—in an effort to bring us around to his point of view.

But that John McCain has disappeared, replaced by a terminally angry man who would now be completely out of place in any environment designed to remind us that it is precisely because he did not take himself too seriously that we should take him all the more seriously.

I have no doubt that Senator McCain believes he is acting in the best interest of the nation. Isn’t that always the way of the ‘hero turned villain’ who believes that imposing his will on the world—by doing whatever it takes—is what is required of him? Don’t these characters always persuade themselves that, while the medicine they are forcing down our throats may be painful, illegal or immoral, we will all thank them for it in the end when we’ve finally seen with our own eyes just how right they are?

It’s tragic that this is the path that John McCain has chosen to pursue. However, it is not a path that we, as a nation, can tolerate from McCain or anyone else.

No matter how much you may agree with Senator McCain’s cost-cutting objectives…no matter how strong your belief that extreme cuts to any particular government program is essential to our financial survival… our national survival cannot be accomplished by giving in to those who would threaten to take us down if we fail to give in to their blackmail.

If Senator McCain— and those who share his point of view— wish to hold up every bit of legislation or appointment offered up by the President or the Democratic leadership in Congress, or utilize any of the many legitimate levers of power that come with the roles they have been granted by way of their being elected to office, that is their right.

It will then be up to the American people to determine whether or not the behavior of those willing to legally obstruct government in furtherance of their conscious was appropriate and in the best interest of the nation—an opinion that will be expressed by the voters during the 2014 election cycle and beyond.

However, threats to create an economic cataclysm as a means to accomplish a political or policy goal is not such a permissible tactic as such are the tactics of thugs and blackmailers. They are the tactics best left to the characters of comic literature and the movies—not the elected officials of a great democracy.

The President is right when he says he will not have a debate nor negotiate with those who seek to blackmail the nation into doing things their way. And whether you support this president or not, every Americans should stand up and reject this profoundly disturbing behavior on the part of Senator McCain and his cohorts. In America, we don’t negotiate with anyone who would threaten to destroy our country, no matter how much they have convinced themselves that it is, in some sick way, in the nation’s best interest to do so.


By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, January 2, 2013


January 4, 2013 - Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , ,


  1. Reblogged this on Ye Olde Soapbox.


    Comment by Michael B. Calyn | January 5, 2013 | Reply

  2. love the post! Lots i didn’t know!

    I would posit however that rather than being this wide-eyed idealist, mccain was an spoiled, partying and underperforming jerk in college, much like the bush-baby and rush-baby (who also have famous daddy issues), and was reviled by his POW-mates for accepting the kid gloves and early release he received because of who his daddy was. Plus, he has always been amazingly rude and demeaning and inappropriate with women.

    so i would hesitate to describe his venomous sputum as subsequent rather than integral to his youth. It looks to me like it borders (at least) on mental illness. Like a good dose of Mad Cow of the personality spectrum. He has always been a bull in the china shop. It’s just that his clever parts know just what bells to ring and whistles to blow to cancel out the squeal from those who have been thrown under his bus.

    it seems that that there are just so many now who have seen his seamy sides first-hand, that his frustration is turning to fury.


    Comment by mary nash-pyott | January 4, 2013 | Reply

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