Saturday, October 11, 2008

Would the Real John McCain Please Stand Up?

The day before the first presidential election, I told two particularly cynical foreigners that they had a misrepresented view of John McCain; that despite being an Obama supporter, I respected McCain's service for his country and his bipartisan work in the Senate; that by most measures, he would be a strong President.  It's simply that, like Barack Obama, I disagree with the bulk of McCain's opinions.  But he's a noble man...right?

In the past few months I have witnessed a radical transformation of McCain, an enormous flip-flop, if you will.  First blinded by the prospect of winning, and now, the fear of loss, he has succumbed to the pressures of American politics, and in so doing, he has changed.

Our story begins August 29, when McCain selected Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate.  Despite a long list from which to choose, including many longtime friends and colleagues, McCain went with a woman he had only met twice prior.  In the clip, MSNBC political analyst Chuck Todd articulates McCain-flop numero uno:

"This goes against everything we think we know about John McCain, that he likes to surround himself with people that he's comfortable with, that are loyal to him.  And all of a sudden, this is a political calculation, and it's gimmicky, and the gimmick could wear out."

The only rational reason to select Palin, McCain's primary motive, was her rising popularity in the Republican party.  In fact, according to the New York Times, McCain had initially favored friend and supporter, (technically) independent Senator Joe Lieberman, but "the outrage from Christian conservatives over the possibility that Mr. McCain would fill out the Republican ticket with Mr. Lieberman, a supporter of abortion rights, had become too intense to be ignored."  If you haven't noticed, McCain likes to paint himself as a "maverick," a guy who stands up to his party for the things he believes in.  Here, however, he simply fell in line.

Unfortunately, it has become all too obvious that Governor Palin is entirely unqualified to be 2nd in command of the most powerful nation in the world.  Don't listen to me, listen to her: 

Ironically, the woman brought on board to stimulate the conservative base has created a bit of an uproar amongst the Republican intelligentsia.  Less than one month after Palin's nomination, Kathleen Parker, columnist for the National Review ("America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for Republican/conservative news, commentary, and opinion"), wrote an article praising Palin's personal story, her graciousness, and her "common sense."  But ultimately, Parker pointed to Palin's indefensible "BS" as evidence that she was/is "Clearly Out Of Her League."  The article called for the VP candidate to bow out, and again, this is the magazine William F. Buckley, Jr. founded.

The next day, Fareed Zakaria, best selling author and editor for Newsweek International, a magazine with 24 million readers worldwide, published a damning review of Palin, citing her canned responses during the Couric interview.  Then, this past monday, National Review writer turned New York Times columnist David Brooks told The Atlantic that Palin is "absolutely not" ready to be VP.  "She represents a fatal cancer to the Republican Party," Brooks said.

But all this Palin talk left McCain out of the picture.  Until yesterday.

In perhaps the most shocking review of all, Buckley's son and former McCain speech writer, Christopher Buckley, not only called to question Palin's qualifications, but McCain's.  He has officially endorsed Obama because, "This campaign has changed John McCain."

Which brings this post back to its central point: John McCain doesn't deserve to be our President.

This week you will undoubtedly hear about the newest issue of Rolling Stone.  The cover story, Tim Dickinson's "Make-Believe Maverick," is already making quite a splash online.

I'd certainly recommend reading it, because it tells a very different story of McCain than the one he's been telling on national television, but I'd also recommend taking everything he says with a grain of salt.  Too much of Dickinson's article relies on hearsay, not his Senate record, to expose McCain as unqualified.  Nevertheless, Dickinson reiterates some of Buckley's primary points and brings to light a few of his own:
  1. McCain has traditionally opposed negative "attack" ads, but in a last ditch effort, has decided to use them against Obama.  These ads, coupled with Governor Palin's relentless efforts to draw a connection between Obama and "terrorist" William Ayers, have led to widespread and intentional misinformation.  Horrifically, McCain's inadequate attempts to correct this situation may actually endanger our next President.
  2. McCain has resurrected what is essentially Bush's campaign team, the same group that smeared him and his family in 2000.  At the helm is Steve Schmidt, a former protege of Karl Rove.  Remember Palin's rousing acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention?  Matthew Scully, a former Bush speech writer, wrote it.
  3. In another attempt to appease the conservative base, McCain has changed positions on the Bush tax cuts & Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling, two proposals which he ardently opposed eight years ago.  At the time, the only other Republican Senator to vote with him, Lincoln Chafee, told Rolling Stone, "Sadly, sadly, sadly--McCain has flip-flopped...McCain is putting himself first."
  4. In perhaps their most despicable move yet, the McCain campaign will now broaden its attack ads to include Michelle Obama.  The connection is decades old and flimsy at best, and McCain has repeatedly deemed spouses off limits, but it appears as though his managers have taken the reigns.

There's more, but I believe I have said just about enough.

I wish that the same John McCain who worked across the aisle with Russ Feingold, the John McCain who stood up to Bush's bogus policies, the John McCain who I would have voted for over John Kerry, was still running for office.  He's not.

Ultimately, none of this matters.  With each passing day, it appears more and more likely that Obama will win this election.  But there's still a decision that every voting American has to make: Whether or not you agree with his policies, or disagree with Obama's, can you bring yourself to vote for John McCain?  I for one, wouldn't dream of it.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Thanks Adam-

I personally don't mind if McCain has "flip-flopped" on policy issues like ANWAR over the course of 8 years. Conditions change over time and policymakers need to have the ability to change their positions and critique themselves over time as well.

However, what I cannot stand, is the flip-flop of McCain's principles. I used to like McCain because he seemed honest and not all the political. The nomination of Sarah Palin was, indeed, an entirely political move that places serious doubt on his judgment. Furthermore, McCain has been completely spineless about refuting the fear that Obama is an Arab or Muslim.

When put in the position of having to respond to whether Obama is an Arab, he says "No, Obama is a decent man, a citizen, etc." That is atrocious. First, it insinuates that Arabs are not decent men or citizens, which is unbelievable. Second, he doesn't address the whether Obama is an Arab or whether it would matter if he was.

In short, McCain has lost credibility with independently minded people and shown that he does not have the principle or backbone to stand up to the intolerance and stupidity of his own supporters when the stakes are high. Right on, Adam-