Pay No Attention to That John McCain Behind the Curtain
POSTED BY: Dennis DiClaudio
Eight years ago, when John McCain lost the GOP nomination to George W. Bush, a lot of reasonable liberals and reasonable conservatives were disheartened. The better man lost. No, scratch that; the way better man lost.
Or, at least, that was the general consensus.
Since then, we've been dismayed to watch the John McCain we thought we knew sidle up to Jerry Falwell, suck up to George Bush, turn his back on immigration reform and embrace "enhanced interrogation techniques" that had once disgusted him. It appeared as though McCain had lost his moral rudder and was getting pushed along by whatever political current he thought might best wash him up on the White House lawn.
But what if he never had a moral rudder to begin with? What if his harsh words for Falwell, Bush, nationalistic xenophobia and legalized torture were all just politicized components of his "maverick" image, "proof" of his willingness to buck the system and break away from his party? Meaningless gestures that he believed would lead to the White House to be dropped as soon as it became apparent that they were political baggage for a Republican?
Has this campaign changed John McCain? Or has it simply torn down the facade he'd erected around himself?
Andrew Sullivan got me thinking about all that this morning when he wrote...
[W]e have seen how he deals with what were once his principles.
Balancing the budget? He caved to Bush's tax cuts and proposes to increase the deficit more than a liberal Democrat in his first term. Torture? He agreed to the 2006 Military Commissions Act, thereby legalizing the very torture techniques that were once used against him. Climate change? He picked a veep who doesn't believe it's man-made. When people talk about this man's honor, they need to grapple with these facts.
If McCain is prepared to authorize the torture of other human beings, to do to others what was once done to him in order to help Karl Rove's 2006 election strategy, there is nothing deep down inside him but a desire for power, no line he won't cross.
My view is that McCain has shown his character in this campaign: it's vicious, petty, lazy, reckless, vain and dishonorable. Campaigns do that. They reveal who someone really is.
Remember a few years ago when rumors were circulating that McCain had approached John Kerry about being his running mate? Rumors that John McCain denied in no uncertain -- and, quite often, angry -- terms. I think that a lot of people -- myself included -- took McCain at his word, because they believed him to be a relatively honorable man. Or, at least more honorable than most politicians. Certainly above out-and-out lying to the country's face.
Well, how many demonstrable lies has John McCain stated along the campaign trail so far? How many times has he stated things about his opponent or his running mate or denied things about his own campaign that went beyond differences of opinion? I'm talking straight-up untruths. How many times has he placed the well-being of the country second to the well-being of the McCain campaign?
Should we really still believe that John McCain -- honorable John McCain, maverick John McCain, straight-talker John McCain -- is beyond betraying his party and his conservative ideals to secure his place in history as a White House tenant?
Uh oh, I forgot to make any jokes in here.
Luckily, John McCain brought one along as his running mate and apparent successor. "Country First," ya know?