Monday, May 26, 2008

Week of 05/26/2008

McCain’s McPains
– by David Matthews 2

In the world of professional wrestling, one of the great entertainment gimmicks for a “heel” or “evil” champion to keep his title is to have a group battle. It doesn’t matter if it is a “fatal-three-way” or even gimmicky Battle Royale with dozens of opponents, the trick is to have the “favorite” run through the gauntlet of opponents, surviving through insurmountable odds, only to have the “evil” champion come running in fresh and rested and steal the victory. It works because, much like the 3-Card Monty game, there are just too many things at play for people to keep track of who is still involved.

Well, the same thing applies to politics.

With Hillary Rodham-Clinton and Barack Obama busy fighting a very caustic primary battle to be the official champion for the Democrats, it’s sort of easy for people to forget that there IS a Republican candidate also running for President, one for whom the voters (and with a little help of his own party’s rules) made it somewhat easier to secure the nomination.

Of course Senator John McCain would love it if people would stop thinking about him right now and just let Clinton and Obama fight it out. The divisive in-fighting amongst the Democrats over who is more qualified or who has the most votes or who has the most delegates pretty much serves to benefit McCain since the bitterness only poisons the voter base and makes him appear to be the more reasonable alternative.

But that doesn’t mean that McCain really is the better alternative. And while the punditry is busy wasting their collective breath and wasting time worrying about the petty pissing contests between a scheming manipulative politician who will stop at nothing to get her way, and the baritone common-man who just can’t seem to get a break in regards to whom he associates with or what he says, there are plenty of faults in McCain’s McCamp that are pretty much going unnoticed right now.

The “Maverick” Myth – John McCain considers himself to be the “maverick” in Congress… the rogue politician supposedly dedicated to cleaning up that corrupt institution and making everyone play fair. He had to re-invent himself and anoint himself with that title after narrowly escaping punishment in the Keating Five affair of the 1980’s. Yes he wrote some of the most restrictive campaign finance laws and worked with the Democrats to get it all passed and enacted. But as will be pointed out shortly, McCain is operating on the erroneous belief that “reform” need only apply to campaign contributions and not necessarily to other parts of the political processes, such as the campaign staff.

McCain’s Temper – One of the behind-the-scenes stories that has popped up over the years is McCain’s “volcanic” temper. The Washington Post had one such article about it back in 1999. Despite his repeated denials of his short fuse, the accusation continues to show up as seasoned politicians and his so-called “friends” recount moments of anger and rage at not getting his way.

To be certain, he is not the only person in this race with a chip on his shoulder. The carpetbagging Senator from New York by way of Washington DC had her ego-driven moments of rage as well, which were documented in the book “Unlimited Access” by former FBI agent Gary Aldrich. But when you’re dealing with an office that has enough power to literally destroy the whole planet and kill every human being, you certainly don’t need someone with a hair-trigger temper holding the future of humanity in their hands. There is a difference between being passionate about what you believe in and being an egotist on a tantrum.

McCain’s “Friends” – While the media has been busy complaining about the people that Barack Obama has been hanging around with, it takes a lot for them to catch on that McCain has some really caustic players in his McCamp as well.

We’ve heard about the “non-affair” affair that the New York Times spearheaded this past February, alleging that a lobbyist by the name of Vicki Iseman was told by McCain’s 2000 campaign staff to distance herself from the Senator. Supposedly this was done because the lobbyist was marketing herself to be so close to the senator that it would IMPLY an affair. That, of course, was the magic word… IMPLY. But the GOP spin made it appear that McCain was being accused of having an actual affair, which of course was not true.

But that was the tip of the iceberg with McCain’s monetary affinity for lobbyists. While he pushes for and defends legislation that cripples campaign contributions and campaign messages, he has no problem with lobbyists being on his own staff. In fact, at least up until recently, most of his key positions in his campaign staff were filled by high-powered lobbyists, some of whom were involved with business interests in areas that have come to embarrass the so-called “reformist”.

Riddle me this, political crusaders: when is a reformer not a reformer? When he’s been in office for so long that he’s considered an insider!

McCain’s “War Song” – For the record, the Beach Boys tune is “Bar-bar-bar-bar-Barbara-Ann”... NOT “Bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran”. Yet that pretty much spells out John McCain’s mindset. America is currently involved with war on multiple fronts, costing us thousands of lives and billions of tax dollars, and yet here’s a candidate that is blasé enough to want even MORE war on even MORE fronts, and to do so with a parody song borrowed from a political comedy group.

There is no questioning John McCain’s war record or his service to the United States. His status as a former POW is in and of itself proof of his service. But part of being a leader is not only about taking action when needed, but also NOT taking action when needed. And being flippant about bombing other nations is not a good sign of leadership.

Conservative Doubt – Yes, conservatives and neo-conservatives are still not comfortable with McCain. They would much rather have put their support behind Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. They don’t like McCain. They can’t trust him. And even though they have sold their souls to the Republican Party and are thus bound to support the guy who becomes the nominee for that party, they still can’t wholeheartedly support McCain after the things he’s done to hose them over. They still haven’t forgiven him for working with the liberals to pass the McCain-Feingold Act.

Conservatives have to constantly wonder if the conservative and neo-conservative rhetoric that he’s been spewing of late is genuine. They have to wonder if he’s going to screw them over. And McCain needs to constantly make sure that they’re on his side too. He needs to know that they could very well turn on him and vote for the Libertarian candidate if they feel threatened, since a couple of years of all-Democrat rule could very well be what the Republicans need to get their act together.

Bush Legacy – You have to seriously wonder why McCain would actively entertain an endorsement from what is slowly becoming the worst president in recent American history! But then again, he really needs that endorsement in order to secure the few conservatives and neo-conservatives that still cling to cultish myth that the Bush Imperium is the greatest government in history.

In normal circumstances, a candidate really treasures the endorsement of the outgoing president, because it gives him (or her) the illusion of carrying on the “tradition”. For presidents like Ronald Reagan, it’s the closest thing to having a third term.

But our current president is someone whose support and credibility has been slowly dwindling after 2005. This is the guy who took us through one economic downturn only to watch as the slide into another, and he even refused to admit we were in one until it was too late. This is a president who glossed over one war, dragged us through a second one, and then was looking for new wars to start while using Orwellian logic to justify and sustain the first two. A president who acts like he barely glossed over the Cliff’s Notes version of “Waging War for Dummies”. A president that claimed that he didn’t care what history thought of him and now is believing that history would treat him better than the public is treating him now. A president that has to go OUTSIDE of the United States to find people who love him… and then he has to make as ass out of himself in the process.

THIS is now John McCain’s baggage! The moment he picked up the endorsement of George W. Bush, he inherited not only what little that was right, but he also inherited all that was WRONG with the Imperium. He has given the voters a reason to vote for anyone BUT him.

But perhaps the biggest of McCain’s McPains is…

McCain’s “Allies” – While the media has been busy looking at Barack Obama’s former minister and anyone they can possibly connect to him, John McCain has a whole crew of caustic ministers in his camp.

First there was the late blowhard Jerry Falwell. You remember Falwell, don’t you? The same guy who blamed liberal groups for 9/11.

Then there’s Rod Parsley… yes, he’s really named after an herb… who believes that Islam is “the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil”… not to mention an “anti-Christ religion that intends through violence to conquer the world."

And then there’s the equally bombastic John Hagee, who has condemned the Roman Catholic Church as being “the great whore”. As soon as he apologized for that statement, another one of his caustic sermons come out whereby he claims that Nazi Germany was operating on “God’s behalf” as part of the overall plan to drive the Jews to Israel. The latter comment forced McCain to distance himself from the unholy trinity of self-righteousness.

But here’s the thing… McCain didn’t just arbitrarily pick up these three voices. He actively SOUGHT their support! He went out there and BROUGHT them into his camp, knowing full well what they stood for!

Which is worse: inheriting a caustic minister that you’ve known for years, or actively searching for and begging for the support of that caustic minister? At least when it’s someone that you’ve known for years, you can always say that you didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

And that makes you wonder… whom else in his camp is just like Parsley or Hagee? Or, perhaps, is there someone even worse than them that has yet to come out?

All of these things, when put together, point to a very dangerous picture of McCain’s campaign. One that, if the media wasn’t distracted by the caustic infighting between Democrats, would pretty much sink his presidential aspirations for 2008 and possibly beyond.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the best that John McCain can hope for right now is that the political squabbling between Clinton and Obama continue well beyond that party’s national convention. Because if by some chance the Democrats get their act together before the November election, they will turn their attention over to McCain’s various McPains, and then the same scrutiny that they put on each other would be put on him and his campaign. At that point, he wouldn’t stand a chance in November.

John McCain’s campaign seems to be pretty much a comedy of errors, and he is really very lucky that the voters picked him since he was on the verge of actually going bankrupt before he started pulling off his winning streak. He should consider that to be a sign of his campaign is far from sound, and that eventual success for him is far from certain.

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