Recalling a past outbreak of fete-in-mouth disease.
Pols will say anything, especially at chicken-dinner affairs where they pat one another on the back in front of selected guests of their own ilk.
That must be the reason that John McCain gave George W. Bush something called the Freedom Award in 2005.
We’re nearing the third anniversary of that barely noted annual event hosted by the International Republican Institute. (Laura Bush “won” it in 2006; other recipients include Dick and Lynne Cheney.)
You’ll say that this is typical behavior by pols to give one another awards and make glowing speeches, so don’t give much weight to such speeches. OK, fine, but it’s still funny and somehow a little tragic to hear these pols log-rolling. My old guru, John Bremner, tried to pound into my head that “words convey ideas.” So, these words by McCain mean at least a little something about our democratic process and its phony-baloney “civility.”
The only time to pay attention is when the candidates (not their handlers or aides) are ripping into each other. “Dirty politics”? Bullshit. That’s when you get down to what democracy is all about: lots of arguing, with, hopefully, some deals and compromises struck.
This chicken-dinner speech, though pretty humorous, may not reveal anything that’s specific to John McCain, because every pol indulges in this kind of ass-kissing in selected venues. But McCain hasn’t always been very good at checking the credentials of the asses he has kissed.
Back in Arizona, he pinned his tail to donkeys like financiopath Charles Keating and phony-war-hero Duke Tully (publisher of the state’s largest paper). He stroked those two schmucks vigorously.
In the end, that’s what McCain is really good at. When he’s not losing his temper, he’s a hail fellow well met, as I know from personal experience — he’s a good guy to talk with, smart, lively, and great with the press, which will always cut him a break.
Anyway, back in May 2005, when this marvelous dinner took place in D.C., McCain was the president of the IRI, an org that sprung from the Cold War tool called the National Endowment for Democracy.
McCain gushed over Bush like a White House intern. And why not — they were at a GOP soiree, not in front of the general populace.
“We have a president who dares to work for the best. He works to achieve a safer, freer, better world — a world in which governments are chosen, not imposed, a world where freedoms are embraced, not abridged, a world in which there is justice and opportunity for all, not rights and riches for some. …
“Years ago the President and I were once opponents. Now it is my privilege and honor to stand with him, in the great and noble work he has undertaken. Like all of you, and like all who believe in our good cause, I am indebted to and very proud of our honoree. It’s my great honor to present the 2005 Freedom Award to our President and my friend, George W. Bush.”
It chokes you up, right?