Man, I have been just DYING to get to this one the last couple of days.
So now we know what ‘the resistance’ really is. It’s the establishment. It’s the old political order. It’s that late 20th-century political set, those out-of-touch managerial elites, who still cannot believe the electorate rejected them. That is the take-home message of the bizarre political spectacle that was the burial of John McCain, where this neocon in life has been transformed into a resistance leader in death: that while the anti-Trump movement might doll itself up as rebellious, and even borrow its name from those who resisted fascism in Europe in the mid 20th-century, in truth it is primarily about restoring the apparently cool, expert-driven rule of the old elites over what is viewed as the chaos of the populist Trump / Brexit era.
The response to McCain’s death has bordered on the surreal. The strangest aspect has been the self-conscious rebranding of McCain as a searing rebel. In death, this key establishment figure in the Republican Party, this military officer, senator, presidential candidate and enthusiastic backer of the exercise of US military power overseas, has been reimagined as a plucky battler for all that is good against a wicked, overbearing political machine. ‘John McCain’s funeral was the biggest resistance meeting yet’, said a headline in the New Yorker, alongside a photo of George W Bush, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and soldiers from the US Army, the most powerful military machine on Earth. This is ‘the resistance’ now: the former holders of extraordinary power, the invaders of foreign nations, the Washington establishment.
The religious allusions, the talk of vengeance against Trump, the misremembering of McCain’s life so that it becomes a moral exemplar against the alleged crimes of Trumpism, exposes the infantile moralism of the so-called resistance. Albert Burneko, assessing some of the madder McCain commentary, says there is now a ‘condition’ that he calls ‘Resistance Brain’, where people display an ‘urge to grab and cling on to anything that seems, even a little bit, like it might be the thing that Finally Defeats Donald Trump’. Even if the thing they’re grabbing on to is actually a bad thing. Like a seemingly endless FBI investigation into the elected presidency. Or George W Bush, whose moral rehabilitation on the back of Anti-Trumpism has been extraordinary. Or neoconservatism: this was the scourge of liberal activists a decade ago, yet now its architects are praised because they subscribe to the religion of Anti-Trumpism. Being against Trump washes away all sins.
I’m not overly familiar with O’Neill’s past work, and don’t know his stance on the Trumpening. But this is a damned brilliant piece, so into Ye Olde Blogrolle he goes on the strength of it.