Saturday, November 1, 2008

Johnny We Still Hardly Know Ye

I like John McCain. He has the best environmental record of any national-class Republican, he attacks pork-laden bills like they were stealing his own wallet and he served his country with distinction both as a military man and as a Senator. I told my lovely wife, "Boy, the Democrats will have their work cut out for them if McCain wins the nomination." Lots of people in the middle felt the same way.

Here's why I won't vote for him on Tuesday: Everything I liked about John McCain has been beaten out of him or paved over by people and institutions who don't give a damn about who he is and what he really believes. Which means they don't give a damn about the grand majority of moderate Americans he represents.

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across an old copy of Esquire magazine dated August 2006. Senator McCain is the cover story by Chris Jones entitled One Of Us. The article relates an appearance at a Darien, CT fundraiser hosted and attended by moderate Republicans. These are John McCain's people.

The attendees worry about the religious Right and their grip on the GOP. The Senator tells them, "I urge my friends who complain about the influence of the religious Right, get out there and get busy. That's what they do! Now, if we believe in the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, the big tent party, then we have to get together and show that. The fact is, some of us have sat idly by while those very active people have basically set the agenda for our party. I get attacked every day because I'm working with Ted Kennedy. How can I work with Kennedy? because I want to get something done!"

Can you imagine those words coming out of John McCain's mouth today? His conservative minders would have a fit. They would issue a "clarification" having little to do with the actual meaning of his actual words. Talk about media filters!

The religious Right dislikes the man but they realize the good Senator is the only chance they have to retain the White House after Dubya wiped his butt with the country. However, they can't resist backing this horse without gelding him first. Unfortunately Senator McCain wants to be President McCain so badly, he'll help them do the job.

That's why I won't vote for him. In 2000, he won the New Hampshire primary. The religious Right boys asked him to stand down so Dubya could waltz to the nomination without spending too much of their money. When McCain refused, they let him have it like Cain slew Abel.

During the South Carolina primary, Jerry Falwell's people called voters and asked questions like,"Would you vote for John McCain if you found out he fathered a black child? Would you vote for him if his wife Cindy was a drug addict?"

Now there is not one atom of truth to either of those queries. South Carolinians thought, "Wait a minute. If Jerry Falwell is asking these questions, they must be true." Unfortunately, the media ran with the story for awhile because they didn't bother with that small detail I like to call fact checking. So the "push polling" worked perfectly.

Regardless, McCain was gone. His own party helped twist the knife. Now he jumps into bed with the very same people who did him in once before. All he had to do was sell out almost everything he stood for. Everything he suffered for.

Case in point: After the whole Abu Ghraib affair broke. Senator John McCain told his President he would not stand for torture by the United States, seeing as he was the only one in the room who had any practical experience with torture. A couple of days later Senator John McCain backed off that stance, in effect telling everyone the United States really practiced Torture Light. All the great taste of regular torture but with fewer calories.

Here is a man who endured years of unthinkable atrocities at the hands of his captors. The North Vietnamese refused to set his broken limbs properly, which is why he can't comb his own hair. They subjected him to mental cruelty. They tortured his fellow prisoners when he refused to cooperate and vice versa. If there is anyone in America who is sick at the thought of Americans participating in anything smelling like torture, it's John McCain. But the man walked away from his own dearly held and hard won principles because his new handlers didn't like them so much.

What happened to THIS John McCain?

Another case in point: Just this last summer, John McCain realized Big Oil's hue and cry for increased offshore drilling to offset high fuel prices was a scam. The reserves would not affect oil prices for years. They would be depleted in eighteen months anyway so it wasn't worth the risk environmentally. Two days later, McCain's ready to put on a hard hat and start drilling himself. Evidently there were meetings where he received "the facts." One wonders whether "the facts" involved a cattle prod.

Meanwhile, the man debates Barack Obama, a past president of the Harvard Law Review, and doesn't lose by much. Not a bad showing considering Barack Obama believes every word coming out of his own mouth and John McCain does not believe everything coming out of his. Some other entity drafted most of his policies du jour. Try debating positions you don't believe in personally. Pretty tough, isn't it?

If John McCain allows himself to be pushed around by fringe elements in his own party, how tough will he be on the enemies of America? Maybe I'm just a jerk with an opinion, but I'm a jerk who votes.

It's very sad for me to see this fine man held in captivity again, this time by his own ambitions. This time around, John McCain seems a lot more compliant than the last time he found himself in this predicament. Perhaps it is better to kneel down than bend over.

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