John McCain is a military man thru and thru. His is the son of a military man who was the son of a military man.
John McCain is an insider. His father was not just a military man, but an admiral. McCain's family has been in the U.S. for many generations, and represents the Scots-Irish branch of the American family, which is arguably the most prototypically American. McCain is very wealthy. His family is very wealthy. McCain was raised in unusual circumstances that placed him in close contact with the military officers of our nation and the power-elite, but not necessarily the ordinary people.
Here at Third Way Center we can only speculate on what a man like McCain truly stands for. He does not stand for the Third Way, that much can be said. Rather, he stands for some version of "neoconservatism." But then our quandary is determining quite what this stands for, "neoconservatism."
It is an axiom of American politics that the further to the Right you are, the more pro-Israel you are, unless you fall off the deck and become a neo-Nazi. McCain has some Rightist credentials on this score. His is a friend of Israel. Neoconservatism--ditto. But he is a different brand of neoconservative: neither a Jew nor a Fundamentalist. Rather, he is an Episcopalian neoconservative: he comes from an Episcopalian background, but attends a Baptist church. In short he is a George F. Will neocon with some Fundy shading. He must satisfy the religious-Right and Zionist lobbies, but must also appear hard-headed and open to the pragmatism of the business community (which cares very little about Zionism unless it is going to make them money).
Let's be clear: Third Way Center has no objections to Zionism, nor to U.S. support for Israel. Israel is an important ally of the United States, even if it's policies concerning Palestinians are indefensible.
But we cannot understand who McCain the militarist is except by situating him relative to Zionism. Without Zionism, McCain is nothing, a backbencher ex-military man who would long ago have had to retire. But McCain does not have the true Christian Right credentials of the hard-core Zionist, which makes him difficult to understand. Why has the Right gone to such elaborate lengths to invade Iraq and maintain Bush in office, if it is going to turn next to a figure such as McCain? Is it simply a question of military contractors allying with belief-centered Zionists?
Perhaps that's it. There doesn't need to be a more involved explanation. Some people have a financial interest in seeing the government spend more on the military, and less on education and health care. Some people have a spiritual and/or ethnic interest in seeing Israel's enemies in the Middle East defeated. On this reading, John McCain stands primarily for military spending. But what of the long-run? What will the GOP do once it has sufficiently pacified the Iraqi insurgents? Or do the pro-McCain movers-and-shakers just not care about this issue?
Alternately, might see McCain as standing not merely for military spending, but also for further overseas interventions. I suppose there are any number of other countries we might invade. Apparently the Republicans are electable no matter how odious the circumstances of such invasions.
The Third Way stands against Big Government, and for innovative government approaches to social and cultural issues. It most certainly does not stand for endless war abroad. John McCain's way is not the Third Way; it is the old way of death and war.