A third term would be a continuation of those soulless and unconstitutional Bush policies. A third term would be a White House under new management but with the same reactionary policies.
First and foremost, McCain is a warmonger. He promises America a 100-year war in Iraq. He itches to fight Iran, declaring: “There will be other wars.”
The “straight talker” is no such thing. He once opposed tax cuts for the rich, remarking: “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us.”
But that was when he had a conscience — and not running for president. Now he wants to make those cuts permanent to show his right-wing bona fides. He has also flip-flopped on immigration, abortion and torture.
He co-sponsored an immigration bill to provide a path to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants. But after the immigrant-bashing Right howled that this was amnesty, McCain blusters now about the need for border security.
He once declared that he opposes repeal of Roe v. Wade because it would force many women to have dangerous operations. But now that he is catering to the Right, McCain calls Roe “a very bad decision.”
He also has begun to use the oleaginous vocabulary of the Right, calling for “a nation of traditional values that protects the rights of the unborn.” He supports Bush’s global gag barring family planning groups from receiving aid for abortion counseling.
McCain was tortured while a prisoner in Vietnam so he naturally fought to end torture by America. Yet earlier this year he voted against an anti-torture bill because he would rather be president than right.
McCain is a hypocrite, posing for years as a man of honor who never stoops to influence-peddling. Yet he has had close ties to lobbyists and thrown his political weight around.
Mike Green, history professor at the of College of Southern Nevada, is a highly knowledgeable political observer. He calls McCain “the biggest whore in American politics.” He adds: Nothing galls him more than “someone claiming to be principled while being unprincipled.”
A perfect example: St. McCain was one of the Keating Five involved in a savings and loan débâcle that cost taxpayers $3.4 billion. Charles Keating went to jail. The careers of three pols were derailed. But St. McCain got off with a mere rebuke even though he pressured lawmakers to ward off bank regulators.
His conflict of interests were glaring. St. McCain vacationed with Keating, rode on his jet and allowed his wife to invest in a Keating business. The grateful Keating contributed heavily to McCain campaigns.
As a committee chairman, St. McCain wrote bills favorable to telecom companies, winning praises from their executives and gaining $750,000 from them in campaign donations. He also showed his dubious ethics by interfering in FCC matters on behalf of clients of a lobbyist friend.
The Nation magazine exposed that holier-than-thou stance: “McCain is not a maverick but what Reformation-era Christians called an antinomian, one who believes that for those who are holy, all is permitted. McCain seems to think he is released from the obligations that bind other men.”
He disdains Social Security protection, worker protection and environmental protection. He would appoint “strict constructionist judges,” right-wing code for reactionaries.
His temper is notorious. A reporter asks McCain a simple question and gets an angry lecture. Once in Senate debate he told Sen. Ted Kennedy to shut up. He labeled other senators “shithead,” “fucking jerk” and “asshole.” He even stoops to telling ugly jokes about Chelsea Clinton.
McCain cozies up to Bush despite the horrible smears of his 2000 campaign that subjected him to such canards as fathering a black child out of wedlock. He condones South Carolina’s disgraceful Confederate flag over its state capitol.
But nothing in that horrible record matters to troglodytic U.S. voters. They place image over substance, symbols above issues and the supremacy of things that don’t matter over things that do.
McCain is a war veteran, so often an easy path to the White House, from Washington to Eisenhower with Jackson and Grant in between. McCain can declare that the Democratic standard bearer is not to be trusted with national security, is soft on terrorism and will wave the “white flag of surrender” in Iraq.
Moreover, McCain looks “presidential.” Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton does. McCain will be tough to beat. Alas.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.