It is not often that the world of Washington politics produces something that can be construed as hilariously funny, but that is what took place last week with the announcement of the launching of Arizona State University’s John McCain Institute for International Leadership. According to the press release the think tank will be “guided by the values that have animated the career of Senator McCain – a commitment to sustaining America’s global leadership role, promoting freedom, democracy and human rights, as well maintaining a strong, smart national defense.” Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman plus CIA Director David Petraeus are reported to be involved in the project.
The Institute press release promises to “Provide decision recommendations for leaders through open debate and rigorous analysis” while promoting “and preserv[ing] the McCain family spirit of character-driven leadership and national service.”
That the vainglorious McCain, who never encountered a rigorous analysis that he couldn’t ignore nor a war that he couldn’t support, should see himself in heroic terms is not surprising. But that others who are not bereft of their senses might see his various posturings as something not only positive but even exemplary is perhaps an indication of the loss of any kind of introspection within our political class. Graham and Lieberman will certainly have some characteristic insights to contribute regarding the global leadership and strong national defense bits, particularly if bombing Iran and Syria are involved, though they are likely to be a tad shaky on the human rights stuff. And how is Petraeus participating? I thought he was a government official being paid to run CIA. Well, maybe the Institute’s a bit of both public and private as the $9 million start-up money appears to be cash left over from the McCain-Palin campaign that was recycled through an eponymous McCain Institute Foundation.