One response to the ridiculous cover of the latest issue of The Weekly Standard should be digust for the shameless adaptation of an iconic image from the Tiananmen Square massacre for the purposes of shilling for an awful candidate in a democratic election, but it seems to me that this might take TWS‘ democracy-promoting ideology and its alleged support for democratic dissidents far more seriously than they deserve. Of course it should go without saying that it is ludicrous and obnoxious to portray the frontrunner in a reasonably free and open election in the role of the Chinese military squashing the democracy activists of 1989, but then I expect that there is a nontrivial percentage of McCain supporters who think that the comparison is quite apt.
McCain is not standing alone in the path of a tank; he is not a valiant martyr to the rights of conscience and political expression. He is likely to be the runner-up in a large-scale contest for supreme power, and he will lose because most people in this country do not trust him or any other member of his party with that kind of power any longer. The perversity of comparing a man of his wealth and power, who seeks even more power, to a lone dissident engaged in futile resistance against overwhelming force is amazing. This certainly says something about that magazine’s respect for real dissidents in systems where contested and competitive elections essentially free of political violence are not possible. An example of real political dissent and courage is appropriated here for McCain to provide some lustre to the fading reputation of a dangerous and misguided politician.