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The Moral Exhibitionism of John McCain
The American Thinker ^ | 9/20/2006 | J. Peter Mulhern

Posted on 09/20/2006 11:59:17 AM PDT by Dark Skies

If a team of geniuses sat down to design a man who should never be President of the United States they would come up with John McCain. Fortunately the character flaws that make him unfit for the Oval Office also put that office well beyond his reach. Sometimes the universe really does unfold as it should.

McCain considers himself a conservative and any number of his apologists are eager to cite his support for military action in our “war on terror” and his predominantly pro-life and conservative voting record. Nevertheless, many conservative Republicans loathe him and there’s a reason for this antipathy.

McCain is a moral exhibitionist. The principal goal of all his public acts is to showcase his exquisite decency. His only apparent ideology is sanctimonious self-congratulation. Consider, for example, his approach to the two defining issues of his career, campaign finance “reform,” and the al Qaeda bill of rights.

McCain repaired his reputation after the “Keating Five” scandal by crusading for the regulation of political speech. This was the cause that built his reputation as a “maverick” and a man of conscience. The solutions for which McCain fought tirelessly never responded to any problem in the real world. They were designed to restrict political freedom and protect incumbents from attack, not to suppress corruption. They have operated within design parameters.

Ironically the McCain-Feingold campaign finance “reform” bill was the most corrupt piece of legislation Congress has passed in modern times. In a democracy there is nothing more corrupt or corrupting that incumbents manipulating the law to protect their own electoral interests.

There was never any prospect that legislation could “get the money out of politics.” Unless you abolish both electoral politics and private property, money and power will find each other. Campaign finance “reform” is a downward spiral of regulation followed by disappointment followed by more regulation. That spiral leads nowhere that any sane person wants to go.

John McCain had to know all this when he built his “reform” bandwagon. He knew and he didn’t care. Fulfilling his oath to the Constitution didn’t matter to him. What did matter to him was looking good.

McCain struck an unholy bargain with the press. They helped him erase the stain of influence-peddling and build a gleaming new image; he cooperated with them to promote legislation that would extend their influence at the same time it sheltered incumbents from criticism.

To anyone who cares about political ideas and the expression thereof, this bargain was nauseating. To John McCain it was an irresistible opportunity to posture and preen. He took full advantage of the opportunity.

Flash forward to the present. The nation is at war and John McCain is doing whatever he can to disable our defenses.

According to the Arizona Senator, if we try terrorists we have to give them access to all evidence against them even if it is top secret. It isn’t good enough to share secret evidence with dedicated military defense lawyers who have the appropriate security clearance. We have to share it with the defendants themselves. Senator McCain’s sense of propriety demands no less.

Never mind that we have learned from experience that detainees can communicate with their fellow terrorists around the world under cover of attorney/client privilege by using treasonous or gullible private attorneys. This means that any secret information shared with a detainee is compromised. But what is national security when weighed in the balance against John McCain’s moral vanity?

The same calculus mandates that we expose CIA interrogators to liability for using any interrogation technique the “international community” might deem degrading. It isn’t good enough for interrogators to stop short of torture and McCain doesn’t want to decide what is good enough. He doesn’t want Congress to define by statute what Americans understand to be the limits of acceptable interrogation.

Those limits have to be as vague as possible so anti-Americans at home and abroad have every opportunity to claim we have violated them. We need to be sure that our officials can be hauled before the bar of justice to answer for the crime of trying hard and successfully to protect us. This may cost a few people their jobs, their savings, their reputations and even their freedom.

But John McCain will look virtuous and that’s what counts.

The stated justification for McCain’s exaggerated concern with terrorist rights is incandescently idiotic and impossible to take seriously. McCain and his merry band tell anyone who will listen that we have to adhere strictly to the most expansive interpretations of the Geneva Conventions because if we fail to do so our soldiers will be abused when they fall captive.

This defies rational response. McCain might as well be arguing that if we follow the course he proposes the Easter Bunny will bring us lots of treats. There is no Easter Bunny and we neither have nor ever will have any enemies that will be affected in the slightest by the finer points of our policies regarding detainees. Just what exactly will today’s enemies do differently if John McCain gets his way? Will they make sure the knife is sharp before they set it to an American neck? Will they make sure the spirit has departed before they desecrate and display a soldier’s body?

McCain offers one other argument in favor of letting the EUnicks and the other anti-Americans of the “international community” define our obligations under the Geneva Conventions. He says this is necessary for us to keep “the moral high ground.”

Here he moves beyond stupid into the realm of insult.

We have the moral high ground and we will keep it even if every resident of the Gitmo Club Fed mysteriously commits suicide by shooting himself in the back of the head while handcuffed to a chair. No other nation in the history of the world would have wasted any time worrying about the treatment of unlawful combatants who were unfortunate enough to be captured. Who has moral standing to criticize us? The British after South Africa, India and Palestine? The French after Algeria? The Germans? Our position at the apex of the moral pyramid in this fallen world is secure.

America’s characteristic concern with morality does us credit but it has to have limits. We all need to remember that the goal is to protect us from the terrorists not the other way around. Life isn’t a morality contest and purity makes a poor shield.

By opposing all vigorous interrogation McCain is seeking to discard a valuable source of intelligence at a time when intelligence is the key to our defense. This would put us all in increased danger but, no matter. It gives McCain a chance to remind everyone of his years as a POW which are the source of his only genuine claim to distinction. It lets him indulge his passion for preening. It makes him look good.

Time and again McCain has cheerfully traded virtue for the appearance of it. There doesn’t seem to be any depth of foolishness he won’t plumb if it gets him a kind word from the New York Times. This is chronic moral exhibitionism and it would be disabling for a President.

It is also disqualifying for a Republican presidential candidate. Moral exhibitionism is a characteristic disease of the left. Conservatives are accustomed to ridiculing leftists for their hollow self-congratulation in connection with issues as diverse as minimum wage laws and hate crimes legislation. They associate moral exhibitionism with their political enemies and they won’t accept it in a presidential candidate.

Without more conservative support than he is likely to get, McCain will sink without a trace in the Republican primaries. With a little help from his opponents, Republican voters will remember that McCain is the guy who had no problem compromising their safety and freedom for the sake of good press coverage. They will turn away from him in droves.

And it will be beautiful to watch.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 2008; interrogation; mccain; politics; rino; terrorism
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1 posted on 09/20/2006 11:59:18 AM PDT by Dark Skies
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To: Dark Skies

Someone should have this reprinted in the Congressional Record.

2 posted on 09/20/2006 12:03:03 PM PDT by freespirited (Have you hugged a terrorist today? 1-800-JMC-CAIN)
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To: Dark Skies

This man must be defeated in the GOP primary so soundly that he will at least think twice about running as an independent.

If he does run as an independent, the Dem nominee will win due to all the RINO voters he'll garner.

3 posted on 09/20/2006 12:03:54 PM PDT by 308MBR (I'm waiting for the "exit strategy" from the War on Poverty.)
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To: Dark Skies
The principal goal of all his public acts is to showcase his exquisite decency.

Boy, that really hits the nail on the head.

4 posted on 09/20/2006 12:04:23 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: 308MBR

Actually, if Hillary is the Dem nominee, an Independent McCain run would probably pull more Dems than Republicans.

6 posted on 09/20/2006 12:06:08 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Dark Skies
“ ...the two defining issues of his career, campaign finance “reform,” and the al Qaeda bill of rights.”

And the Senate Immigration/Amnesty Bill!

7 posted on 09/20/2006 12:06:13 PM PDT by johnny7 (“And what's Fonzie like? Come on Yolanda... what's Fonzie like?!”)
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To: freespirited

"McCain considers himself a conservative and any number of his apologists are eager to cite his support for military action in our “war on terror” and his predominantly pro-life and conservative voting record."

This description of his apologists describe Bill Kristol and Sean Hannity perfectly.

8 posted on 09/20/2006 12:07:14 PM PDT by jubail (Hannity & Kristol = McCain shills)
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To: dead

I hope we don't have to test the validity of any of the scenarios we have mentioned!

The GOP could do worse than McCaine with Mitt or Rudy, but not by much.

9 posted on 09/20/2006 12:08:31 PM PDT by 308MBR (I'm waiting for the "exit strategy" from the War on Poverty.)
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To: Dark Skies
His only apparent ideology is sanctimonious self-congratulation.

I couldn't quite put my finger on WHY I dislike this man soooo much. Above statement nails it.

Thanks for posting Dark Skies.

10 posted on 09/20/2006 12:10:26 PM PDT by jan in Colorado (The light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light;Jn3:19)
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To: freespirited

What I don't get is why so many people feel he'll get the Republican Nomination. Why?

11 posted on 09/20/2006 12:11:03 PM PDT by divine_moment_of_facts
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To: jan in Colorado

Hey Jan...Yeah, I don't think he'll go far in '08.

12 posted on 09/20/2006 12:11:29 PM PDT by Dark Skies
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To: jan in Colorado
His only apparent ideology is sanctimonious self-congratulation.

Which makes him a liberal, despite his voting record.

13 posted on 09/20/2006 12:12:31 PM PDT by Socratic ("I'll have the roast duck with the mango salsa.")
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To: Dark Skies

Title correction in the interest of truth in advertising:



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To: Dark Skies

He puts McCain in his place. I wish he would have had the time and space to expound on his butt boy buddies like Chuckie Hagel, Lindsay Graham, and Little Bwilly Kristol.

15 posted on 09/20/2006 12:17:03 PM PDT by Biblebelter
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To: 308MBR

If he runs as an independent, he just might pick up as many Democrats as Republicans.

16 posted on 09/20/2006 12:17:38 PM PDT by ZULU (Non nobis, non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: Socratic

Even discussing this loathsome character is so repugnant that acceptable adjectives are inadequate, regardless of one's command of English.

Remember: McCain, Warner, Collins, and Graham - traitors.

17 posted on 09/20/2006 12:19:36 PM PDT by ZULU (Non nobis, non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: Dark Skies

Well, when he got in bed with the swimmer with the immigration "reform" bill that was all I needed to know.

18 posted on 09/20/2006 12:23:46 PM PDT by Riverine
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To: 308MBR
The GOP could do worse than McCaine with Mitt or Rudy, but not by much.

I would take either of the open RINOs over McCain precisely for the reasons stated in this article. McCain really is the GOPs version of St. Jimmy Carter. He would be a disaster for the country.

19 posted on 09/20/2006 12:23:49 PM PDT by Ditto
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To: dead


Vietnam: Release Prisoners Before More Privileges

By John E. Carey and Honglien Do

Smack in the middle of the controversy about how America treats it prisoners is one Senator John McCain, himself a former prisoner of the Communists in Vietnam. John McCain revisited Vietnam, including the infamous prison which held him, a few years ago. "My job here is to commemorate the beginning and continuation of a new relationship between the United States and Vietnam," said McCain, a leading advocate of reconciliation between the former foes.

Just this week, Senator McCain intervened in the case of U.S. citizens wrongly held by the Vietnamese Communists.
Two of these prisoners are Cong Thanh Do and Thuong N. “Cuc” Foshee, and there are others.

Vietnam is seeking entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Vietnam is also seeking U.S. Congressional approval for Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) from the U.S. The President of the United States is expected to travel to Vietnam in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference.

Yet Vietnam continues to take actions contrary to its own self interests by jailing political antagonists for “crimes” such as posting democratically themed essays on the internet.

Cong Thanh Do used the internet to spread “democratic” messages, a crime in Vietnam. Mr. Do is from San Jose, California. His activities, taken for granted by all Americans, came to the attention of the government of Vietnam, a government that insists upon regulating all media and information, including the internet and email.

The Washington Times web site, for example, is not available to readers in Vietnam. The Washington Times is too “seditionist.”

While the United States cannot appropriately intervene and tell another nation that it must insist upon an American style of freedom of speech, American Congressmen and Senators can insist upon the release of Americans wrongly held in jails in Vietnam.

Thuong N. “Cuc” Foshee, according to her family, “was detained by the Vietnamese government and has been in a detention center in HCMC [Ho Chi Minh City, formerly, as many Vietnamese still say, Sai Gon] ever since. She has not been charged with any crime, has been denied bail, has been denied a visit with an attorney, her prescription medication has been withheld and she has been denied adequate dental and medical care.”

Mrs. Foshee has not been charged, though she has been held since September 8, 2005.

Mrs. Foshee was also known for her internet postings of democratically inspired documents from her home in California.

Both Mr. Do and Mrs. Foshee went to Vietnam to visit elderly relatives.

When Vietnam’s current government leaders ascended to power last June, we responded with a Washington Times commentary on America’s Independence Day, July 4, 2006. “Recently, more enlightened thinking has made Vietnam an emerging economic force,” we wrote, “the news of the new leadership gives great promise.”

Now is the time for that new leadership to live up to its great promise.

Vietnam has released imprisoned persons guilty of similar “crimes.” Earlier this month Vietnam released prominent dissident and pro-democracy activist Pham Hong Son. Son was originally sentenced to five years in prison. His crime? He translated articles from the U.S. State Department web site for an online journal. The articles were titled "What is democracy?"

The Vietnamese government is manipulating the international community by feigning partial respect for human rights. Vietnam has been releasing thousands of prisoners in order to convince the United States government to approve Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) and the world to support them in accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Scott Johnson of the Montagnard Foundation, a group that fosters understanding of the indigenous Vietnamese tribal peoples wrote, “The recent announcement by the Vietnamese government that they will release ‘some’ dissidents in a general amnesty reminds me of a conversation I had with a former U.S. State Department official about his dealings with the Soviets during the Cold War. ‘Throw them a dissident’ was what he said and he described how the Soviets would play the stalling game by keeping Western diplomatic pressure at bay for a time.”

According to Vo Van Ai of the Buddhist Information service in Paris, there are only four prisoners of conscience out of the 5,313 recently released by the government of Vietnam and he describes this "piecemeal amnesty" as a "propaganda exercise."

Scott Johnson and Vo Van Ai are telling us what is obvious to most international observers: Vietnam’s recent prisoner release effort is window dressing designed to thrill the most shallow students of human rights. The exercise is an effort to please U.S. Congressmen and Senators without getting to the real heart of the issue: that Vietnam continues to hold political prisoners, indigenous Montagnards and others; many without charges and without rights.

While we applaud Vietnam’s granting of freedom to those formerly held in incarceration, we urge Vietnam to free the remaining victims held in prisons.

A letter from Reporters Without Borders on September 6, 2006, stated in part, "Five people are currently imprisoned in Vietnam for having expressed democratic views on the Internet. Contrary to the claims of the Vietnamese authorities, none of them is a terrorist, criminal or spy. These [people] have been punished for using the Internet to publicly express their disagreement with the political line of the sole party. They are non-violent democrats.”

It is time for Vietnam to make a clean slate of its past human rights abuses. Entry into the WTO, granting of PNTR and the President of the United States’ visit during APEC all give the Vietnamese a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate fairness, forward thinking, a renewed commitment to human rights and modernity.

So we urge Vietnam to release the key political and religious prisoners it still holds, many without charges or any access to attorneys, family, medical treatment or religious advice.

And we urge U.S. Members of the House of Representatives and Senators not to move forward on PNTR for Vietnam until the release and safety of these jailed prisoners can be secured.

Senator John McCain is currently embroiled in a standoff with the President of the United States on how this country should treat its prisoners. He shrugged off suggestions that the dust-up could hurt him politically this week, telling reporters that his "credibility with the American people is that I do what I think is right."
While we welcome the prisoners recently released by the government of Vietnam, we urge Vietnam to now release those still held: prisoners such as Cong Thanh Do and Thuong N. “Cuc” Foshee.

Honglien Do escaped from Communist Vietnam after serving time in detention. Mr. Carey is former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

20 posted on 09/20/2006 12:27:20 PM PDT by John Carey
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