On his way to formally announcing his latest bid for the White House, John McCain stopped to consult with the most high-profile supporter of his campaign to become the oldest first-term president in American history.
Perhaps it was a desire to look young and fresh by comparison that led McCain to pose for pictures in New York with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
But the image of the two unreconstructed Cold Warriors giggling with one another about some inside joke — a whispered rendition of the senator’s “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” song, perhaps — did nothing to inspire confidence.
It is a measure of the extent to which McCain has lost his political wits that he thought lining up with the embodiment of America’s corrupt and dysfunctional past and present foreign policies would somehow make him a more appealing replacement for George Bush.
In 2OOO, when McCain challenged Bush for the Republican nomination, he ran as an the outsider. The senator presented himself as an open-minded maverick who, while his stances on most issues might err on the right, refused to fit into the neat ideological i n which Bush wedged himself. Americans responded well to McCain. He won key primaries and was only prevented from securing the GOP nomination by Karl Rove sleazy, race- and religion-baiting attacks. Had McCain secured the Republican nod in 2OOO, he might well have been able to do something Bush could not: win the support of a majority of American voters.
Now, however, McCain is edging closer and closer to the political fringe occupied by deservedly unpopular characters such as Kissinger, who with the passing of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is now commonly referred to as the world’s most prominent war criminal.
Kissinger has yet to wash off the blood stains left from his malicious meddling in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, East Timor, El Salvador and dozens of others countries as a member or ally of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. Yet, now, he is Vice President Dick Cheney’s go-to-man for advice on how to maintain the mess that this current administration has made of the Middle East.
Kissinger does not speak as his own man.
The former Secretary of State has for many years now been a paid mouthpiece for the Chinese government. Thus, the counsel he provides McCain, Cheney and everyone else with regard to global trade in particular and global affairs in general is not the reasoned assessment of a former diplomat. Rather, it is the official spin of a foreign government proffered by a hired gun.