(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)
Alex Pareene, at Salon:
John McCain got an earful at a recent town hall, because whenever John McCain actually shows up in his state people generally feel like yelling at him, but this time the angry Arizonans had a good point: Americans and Arizonans don’t particularly want to go to war in Syria, so why are so many people in the Senate about to vote to do that? And why did John McCain basically already vote to do this?
McCain was heckled and aggressively questioned at the Phoenix meeting. One man used marshmallows as a prop but most questioners had pretty straightforward arguments, like “we do not want another engagement in the Middle East.” John McCain promised that this would not be a real war, meaning a war in which Americans would be in any danger of dying in large numbers, but rather just the sort of minor, small-scale military action that will probably just kill a lot of Syrians. This did not seem to satisfy his critics. One of them had a particularly pointed, but sort of misdirected message:
“We didn’t send you to make war for us. We sent you to stop the war,” one man said to applause.
My question is this: Why would you send John McCain anywhere to stop a war? Anywhere besides “retirement,” I mean? Arizonans have been sending McCain to Washington (well, they haven’t been sending him there — he lives there — but they have been asking him to represent them in Congress) for a quarter-century now, or longer if you count his time in the House. In that time he hasn’t been consistent on much, but one thing he’s always been steadfastly in favor of is war. He’s never heard of a proposed military intervention he didn’t immediately support, or not support mainly because it wasn’t a big enough military intervention….
You can count on some Republicans to be purely opportunistic opponents of military invention — this president favors it, so now I am opposed — but that is never going to be the case with John McCain. If military action is on the table, John McCain is going to rattle a saber all over that table. If you’re tired of war, Arizona, just don’t vote John McCain anymore. (This also goes for Californians who dislike war and massive government surveillance programs but keep voting for Dianne Feinstein.)
The people at McCain’s town hall were not peacenik outliers. The majority of Americans are opposed to airstrikes in Syria. (Democrats oppose them more strongly than Republicans do, so thus far “liberal hypocrisy” on the issue is primarily limited to elected officials, as ever.) If President Obama loses a congressional vote and then doesn’t strike Syria, well, that might actually be a pretty politically popular move. But it would lead to John McCain and a chorus of Washington pundits calling him “weak.” Doing your best to reflect the will of the people, as represented either by polls or by the votes of popularly elected representatives, is always considered “weaker” than just doing hugely unpopular stuff because a couple of rich guys want you to….