One of John McCain’s most notable accomplishments has a strong Massachusetts tie-in. It’s when he and John Kerry worked to repair and ultimately restore relations with Vietnam. In hindsight their efforts paid off in several ways-achieving some closure on the anger and enmity that followed a military defeat for the U.S., and in the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with Vietnam has clearly worked to the advantage of both parties.
This could not have been easy for McCain. We can certainly understand how hard it must have been to come to grips with his P.O.W. experiences. But also, working with Kerry could not have been easy given their sharply divergent backgrounds-with McCain a product of the military culture that Kerry, after his military service, explicitly rejected. And it could not have been easy for McCain to have to deal with the Rambo-deluded P.O.W./M.I.A. crowd who so preferred to wallow in their anger than to make peace.
But they did it. And both can take credit. And that’s why it’s so striking how little of that John McCain remains in the last weeks of a presidential McCain. McCain has worked hard to transform himself into a loser. And now that the transformation is almost complete, he’s clearly deeply unhappy with being stuck in this mold he himself created. Even Bob Dole in 1996-another wounded and decorated veteran-managed to retain a certain sense of mordant humor as he slid off the electoral map. And then Dole went out and made commercials to sell Viagra. Can you image McCain doing this?
And as we prepare for the vice presidential debates another aspect of McCain’s loser-dom hoves into view. If McCain has made himself into a loser, then Palin is a loser’s loser. How agonizing it must be, having rolled the bones, to see snake eyes coming up like this. What a long, long way from healing up the wounds of a lost war-in which he himself suffered so much.