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Debunking the McCain Myth

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Jack O’Spades

Hello dear readers, there is something I feel that I need to discuss with you. Many people hold misconceptions about Senator McCain. He is widely seen as being more of a maverick and more progressive than he actually is. These distortions are not held by one segment of society, but are nearly universal, affecting everyone from the lunatic right to even moderately progressive individuals. Most recently we have seen this erupt from the right wing luna-pundits, who seemed to believe that McCain was horribly progressive because he appeared on The Daily Show to often, and *gasp*, actually questioned the Republican line. He also did the unthinkable for a conservative politician by calling the amazingly dickish pastor Jerry Falwell one of the political “agents of intolerance”.

Granted for a progressive these things are amazingly refreshing to see in conservative leaders, but it certainly isn’t enough. Going on the Daily Show isn’t going to make you more progressive, just as appearing on Fox News doesn’t turn you into a complete duchebag, and everyone knows Jerry Falwell was a jackass. However, for all his maverick posturing it simply hasn’t been enough to win him the White House for the last two times he has ran. So in short order our friend McCain has completely ditched whatever claim he had to being a maverick to become what he is now, a neocon boot licker. Going so far as to prostrating himself before religious conservatives by giving the commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University back in 2006.

McCain’s voting record eliminates any doubt as to his conservative credentials. He has consistently low ratings from unions and womens’ groups (rough average of about 20%), often low rankings from environmental groups, dismal ratings from peace minded organizations, and nearly consistent 0% ratings from the ACLU, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood. While he supports the neo-liberal (as in “Free Trade”, not to be interpreted as, in any way, liberal) CATO-Institute about 80% of the time, is fast friends with tax cut groups and big business lobbies (although he has made enemies among government contractors), and has a life time rating with the American Conservative Union at 83.2%. All of this information was obtained from Project Vote Smart (www.votesmart.org), an organization that is ironically supported by John Sidney McCain III himself.

Although this refreshingly available voting record has already hit the blogosphere, many on the right hemisphere of it are still choking on the “maverick” image of John McCain. Their claim, in a nutshell, is that 82.3% isn’t really that much, and that he is one of the most progressive republicans. First off, I’d challenge anyone to argue that being 82.3% dead, or 82.3% paralyzed, is not really that bad. For those of you who really don’t think that’s too bad, you may want to talk to some of our Iraq war wounded, although they’re probably still over there. If you can’t get a hold of them, you could always try it yourself, although from a moral standpoint I should probably tell you not to.

As for being one of the most progressive Republicans in the Senate today, thats not exactly a big deal. We are perhaps the most conservative nation of the advanced industrial democracies, and being the most progressive of the most conservative party in our country, in one of the (or just the) most conservative eras in our history, is that really saying anything? Uh, probably not.

McCain has accepted virtually all of Bush’s policies verbatim. If anything he is even more dangerous than Bush, who’s own effectiveness has been limited by his obvious cronyism and incompetence. McCain is replaying the same Republican political maneuvers of 2000 and 2004, which seem to be still effective. Employing his “outsider” status, the oldest, perhaps most effective American political tactic, of which issues such as being a longtime Senator never seem to offer much of a damper to. In addition, he holds the Republican ideological trump card, “stability” which is achieved both through martial action abroad and prisons at home.

It is perhaps the former where McCain is the most dangerous. He has accepted the ideological framework of “Islamo-facisim” to a tee, the basic concept of which is that Islamic militants are going to take over the world unless we bomb all Islamic countries into a fine slurry of rock an bone. The ones that we don’t bomb must have a pro-western government, regardless of how undemocratic it will be.

McCain has a multitude of ideas which will help to further strain our military and diplomatic capacity to the breaking point. In addition to wanting to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran (to which he has been quoted singing to the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann”) he also seems bent on re-starting the Cold War, because James Bond movies are so much better when you have those rascally Russians with their funny accents and furry hats. He has openly advocated expanding NATO to the Ukraine and Georgia, and placing missile defenses there. Such a move would infuriate Russia, and place it on the defensive, not a move that you want to make with a nuclear superpower.

In addition, McCain has also called for Russia to be removed from the Group of Eight, a relatively informal meeting of some of the world’s leading industrial and military powers. Although this is mostly a petty gesture, it is the diplomatic equivalent of the bitch slap. Considering his already threatening stance towards Russia, this will only exacerbate diplomatic problems of his own making. Granted, Russia has problems with democracy and civil liberties, but confronting them in a martial fashion will only give Russia more of an excuse to continue such practices. Furthermore, it should be remembered that Russia’s potent nuclear arsenal puts it in a powerful position, and it will not be frightened into negotiations from a military standpoint, particularly when it knows that we are already overstretched in our military capacity. We’re not even in a position to start a good ol’ fashioned proxy war.

Further “brilliant” foreign policy ideas by Mr. McCain include developing a “League of Democracies” and reviving the Office of Special Services. The first of which sounds like a brilliant plan, reminiscent of President Wilson’s League of Nations or perhaps the UN. The big difference is that the League of Democracies is not an inclusive body, it is essentially to be a forum for nations that the US believes to be democracies. Considering our track record of what we will be willing to accept as a “democracy”, such as nations ruled by one time American allies Mobutu Sese Soku and Saddam Hussein, I’m not terribly enthusiastic. It will essentially be a UN in the model of the “Coalition of the Willing”, ie. anyone willing to get on board with American hegemony. More than likely it will be used to provide the fig leaf of international support that the UN was unwilling to grant the Bush administration back in 2003, when Saddam had his magical, vanishing, anthrax warheads.

The idea of reviving the OSS, is yet another foreign policy idea from hell. The Office of Special Services was the precursor to the modern CIA. It has been considered, if it can be at all possible, even more reckless than the CIA has been. This comment has been made due to the more lax regulation that was afforded to the OSS and also to the early CIA. McCain believes that the CIA is over regulated, and that we need a “can do” intelligence organization. While I certainly do not dismiss off hand the necessity of an intelligence organization, I would argue that having yet another one would simply add to the alleged problem McCain is trying to solve. We already have the FBI, the Homeland Security Administration (AKA FBI II), the National Security Administration, and Dick Cheney, adding yet another voice to the cacophony doesn’t seem prudent. If anything it will only provide a greater ability to tailor military intelligence to fit whatever mold you want it to. CIA not being agreeable enough about telling us what we want to heat? Set up a new intelligence agency!

To conclude, McCain is NOT a maverick, he is for all intensive purposes Reagan III or W II. Although he has made some appreciated headway in issues of campaign finance reform and has taken military contractors to task, these achievements do not make up for his nonexistent social policy and militant foreign policy. He will only stay the course into America’s economic, military, and cultural ruin.

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