— Steve Saideman (@smsaideman) January 13, 2015
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, in the NYTimes:
… [S]ix years after losing the presidential election to Barack Obama, Mr. McCain finally has the only job in Washington, other than being president, that he ever wanted: chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, overseer of the American military and the nation’s defense policy. The question is whether he will use his new clout (and ability to subpoena) to make war or some accommodation with the White House.
“McCain now has the power either to destroy the president’s national security policy or shape it constructively,” said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. “This is the first step to see whether he is going to use his new power to clobber Obama as he has for the past six years, or whether he will use it to try to shape and improve Obama’s policy.”
For now, despite hints that he is trying to reinvent himself from cantankerous Obama critic to elder statesman, Mr. McCain still seems to be in clobber mode. In an early assertion of his new authority, he said on Tuesday that he would push legislation to block Mr. Obama from sending detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison to Yemen.
He said in an interview last Thursday that Mr. Obama’s decision not to send more American troops to Iraq to thwart the Islamic State had put America at risk. “That attack you saw in Paris? You’ll see an attack in the United States,” Mr. McCain said. He repeated his frequent assessment that the president’s foreign policy is “a disaster” and “delusional.” He said “of course” he would have made a better commander in chief….
Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, said the president sees Mr. McCain as possessing “a very important viewpoint to consult with,” even if Mr. Obama rejects Mr. McCain’s interventionist stance. Mr. McDonough said Mr. McCain had influenced the Obama administration’s foreign policy, although when he was asked how, he paused.
“The reason I’m pausing,” he finally said, “is I’m trying to give you a concrete example.”…
In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift spoke of the Struldbrugs, born immortal but not ageless:
As soon as they have completed the term of eighty years, they are looked on as dead in law… After that period, they are held incapable of any employment of trust or profit; they cannot purchase lands, or take leases; neither are they allowed to be witnesses in any cause, either civil or criminal, not even for the decision of meers (metes) and bounds… Otherwise, as avarice is the necessary consequence of old age, those immortals would in time become proprietors of the whole nation, and engross the civil power, which, for want of abilities to manage, must end in the ruin of the public…
Three hundred years of improvements in medical science don’t seem to have had much effect on the “necessary consequences” of angry, self-centered old men.