Skip to comments.John McCain
Posted on 12/02/2007 5:49:02 PM PST by mossyoaks
This is one in a series examining where the leading contenders vying for the Republican and Democratic parties' presidential nominations stand on the major issues. The series will run through early January when the state party caucuses and primaries begin. If presidential candidates were evaluated solely on the strength of their resumes or the quality of their character, it is likely that John McCain would be leading this year's pack of presidential hopefuls.
He is the only major candidate to have served in the military and one of the few candidates in recent history with firsthand experience of the horrors of war. Beyond his military record, he has 25 years of combined government service in the U.S. House of Representatives (1982-86) and the U.S. Senate (1986-present), and is currently the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He has proven his ability to reach across the partisan divide and achieve significant legislative accomplishments.
As for character, John McCain is in a league of his own. His legendary character was formed within the walls of Bancroft Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy and forged by his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, where he was held captive for 5-and-a-half years and tortured at the hands of the North Vietnamese.
At a recent GOP debate, McCain made light of his ordeal by comparing his experience to Sen. Hillary Clinton's support for a publicly financed museum to commemorate the 1969 Woodstock Concert. McCain joked that he had heard about the concert but did not attend, as he was tied up at the time, to which the Republican candidates burst into laughter. While Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the others enjoyed the levity of the moment, McCain looked directly into the camera and with complete conviction declared that no one who supports such projects should be president of the United States. In an instant, the laughter melted into a standing ovation.
With McCain as the GOP candidate, there would be no accusations of an inflated military record, no hints of corruption, no innuendos of infidelity, no rumors of drug use or drunk driving, no questions of his work ethic and no assertions of flip-flopping on key issues. In many ways, McCain appears to be the ideal candidate for a nation involved in a global military conflict and hungry for effective, bipartisan leadership. His trouble gaining momentum in the Republican nominating contest has nothing to do with a lack of character or with inexperience. If nothing else, recent presidents of both parties have established that character issues and inexperience are not necessarily fatal flaws for presidential candidates. McCain's political sin has been his abundance of character and wealth of experience, not his lack of these most important attributes.
His commitment to core issues (what his detractors refer to as his stubbornness) has gained him the reputation as the maverick of the Senate. Without question, Sen. McCain has taken positions that are out of step with the current president and a certain wing of the Republican Party.
Most famously, McCain championed the Bi-Partisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, better known as the McCain-Feingold reforms, which attempted to close loopholes in the outdated campaign finance system. The reform package was initially resisted by President Bush and immediately challenged by the leadership of the Republican Party. Mitch McConnell, then the Republican majority whip in the Senate, unsuccessfully challenged the law in the Supreme Court. While candidates for federal office have found gaping new holes in the reformed system, the most lasting impact of the reform package was to put pro-Bush Republicans on notice, the party was not theirs alone.
Immigration reform is another area in which McCain found himself at odds with the majority sentiment of his party. In 2006, he was a key supporter of a comprehensive immigration plan in the Senate that would have extended guest-worker passes to immigrants and established a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have worked in the U.S. for five years. The Senate bill that McCain favored was opposed by a majority of Republicans in the Senate, while the House version, which focused on border security and offered no mechanism for citizenship, received strong support from Republicans in the House. The House and Senate were unable to overcome their differences and comprehensive immigration reform was set aside. McCain went back to his legislative work, minus a few Republican friends.
No issue reveals McCain's willingness to buck party pressures and public opinion more than his stance against Islamic extremists. While his strong support for the initial use of force in Afghanistan and Iraq might be expected from a Republican in the post-9/11 world, his actions after the initial stage of the conflict were anything but typical. When many on both sides of the aisle grew wary of the conflict and were looking for ways to distance themselves from President Bush's war, McCain was the first and most vocal supporter of sending additional troops to the region. Even with support for the war sharply declining in the American public, or perhaps because of the sharp decline, McCain saw little choice but to intensify his support.
One could almost hear the helicopters buzzing in his head, buzzing over the U.S. embassy in Saigon in 1975. For McCain, Iraq is the continuation of a war he has been fighting his entire life, a war to defend the United States against enemies foreign and domestic. To abandon the mission now might be politically expedient, but it is not an option for McCain.
The memory of Vietnam, scarred into his memory by the ropes of his North Vietnamese interrogators, was most certainly on his mind in 2005 when he opposed President Bush and fought for a ban on U.S. interrogation methods that he considers torture. He certainly did not launch his anti-torture crusade due to the support of Vice President Cheney, who lobbied against the measure, or due to the support from the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Republican Duncan Hunter, who also opposed the bill, or due to the support of President Bush, who threatened to veto the legislation. Faced with the full wrath of McCain and growing public pressure from within the United States and from U.S. allies abroad, President Bush reluctantly signed the bill. Defiant to the end, Bush issued his now famous signing statement in which he reserved the right to waive the restrictions on torture, should they interfere with his broader constitutional powers. Once again McCain had defied his party leaders and landed a less than complete victory.
While he has never shied away from a just fight, it would be a mistake to assert that Sen. John S. McCain III, the son and grandson of admirals in the U.S. Navy, is something akin to a loose cannon. McCain is a conservative Republican, occupying the Arizona Senate seat once held by the father of modern conservatism, Barry Goldwater. Sen. McCain has an 82 percent lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union, suggesting that he has voted in favor of key conservative issues 82 percent of the time. McCain has a consistent pro-life voting record and regularly supports free trade, nuclear power, private Social Security savings accounts, school vouchers, the death penalty and controlling government spending.
McCain is a conservative, but not a Christian conservative in the Southern mold of George W. Bush. McCain has never enjoyed the support of the Republican Party's Christian base and in fact was burned by the Christian Right in his 2000 presidential bid, when a smear campaign caused him to lose the all-important South Carolina primary and eventually the nomination to the evangelical candidate of choice, his rival George W. Bush.
His position on social issues, in particular his position on gay rights, reveals the difference between McCain and the Christian right. In 2004, he broke with the president and leading Republicans by opposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, a position that did not sit well with the party faithful. While he continues to oppose the constitutional amendment, he supports restrictions against gay marriage at the state level. Moreover, while he does not doubt that gay men and women have served the nation with honor in the military, he holds that open homosexuality in the military could weaken the armed forces and the country. Instead, he supports Bill Clinton's don't ask/don't tell policy.
These positions, based more on pragmatism than moral certainty, might very well reflect the majority position in America, but they do little to appease self-righteous interest groups on the right or left of the political spectrum.
A willful moderate in a world of political extremes, McCain is a lonely man these days. Gone is the straight-talk express of the 2000 campaign and the glowing media attention that came with his unconventional approach. Gone is the excitement of a candidate who successfully reached across party lines by appealing to moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats. Gone also are the supporters with deep pockets who funded his earlier campaign. What is left is a candidate who defined himself by resisting the policies of George W. Bush, only to be tainted by the one Bush policy he so outspokenly supported and Bush so fantastically blundered Iraq. What is left is a man of unquestionable character and experience, and the realization that had McCain won in 2000, had his supporters in South Carolina been a little less principled, or had Bush's supporters been a little more honest; McCain would have done a better job.
His record on immigration is abominable and arrogant and tin-eared, as he sucks up to big business monopolists (his forte). Hes the biggest media suckup there is and is HATED by any conservative who dares to follow politics. He's even said things that suggest he's even unreliable on those things he supposedly favors, ie abortion, gun control, etc. He will never , NEVER get the nomination.
re: posts 17 & 18 This still seems to be much more incriminating for Clinton & Kerry, especially Clinton. The connection between Anheuser Busch/Sea World & Lippo is a pretty small blip compared to all the DNC contributions, etc. I’m sure you could find a connection between Anheusr Busch & just about anything on the planet if you look hard enough - I’m not seeing anything that is really a red flag concerning McCain himself.
You seem to imply that McCain wanted to normalize relations w/ Vietnam in order to open the market for profits for Anheuser Busch & was willing to forego investigations into the POW/MIA issue in order to do that. That makes no sense - especially given McCain’s staus as a former POW himself.
What are you implying is the significance in getting the USNA Commandant position upgraded to 4-star?
Said she got the documents from McCain’s office - not McCain himself. Plus, Kerry was the one who said (lied) that the documents were on file when they were not.
Implicates Kerry, not McCain.
Mostly opinion, not facts.
No. Who has the time to?
I did see Jesse Helms’ name mentioned. Is he now considered one of the bad guys as well?
You may be right. We will see.
Some just DON’t get it even if you hit them with a ton of evidence.
Probably all valid points.
But, lets look at this rationally.
How about we look at the pluses and minuses of each candidate?
Who do want as a wartime president of all candidates? Does Mitt Romney, Huckabee, Paul, and Guiliani have extensive foreign policy experience?
I tend to think of the president of someone who knows how to protect the nation. Guiliani knows how to put a city back together, but does he have established international relationships to draw upon in times of crises?
I think the conservatives could keep McCain in line on all the other issues. We proved it on the amnesty bill. We can get the campaign finance bill reversed. He isn’t really running on a mandate expect getting the conservative spending back in line. How do you do that? Cut spending.
As for opposing Bush tax cuts, it doesn’t really matter when Bush is spending money well beyond what we are taking in, and I know a lot is due to the two wars. But I think it will e worth in the long run. But we need to watch the defense-related contractors. Seems like they are running amuck.
There is no perfect candidate. I just don’t want a shopping mall to blow up and that’s going to guide my vote.
Free Republic Opinion Poll:
Would you be for or against McCain?
against 92.4% 2,989
for 7.6% 247
“Campaign Finance Reform is all you have to say about McCain”
Gang of 14 and amnesty, if anything else is needed.
Correction: this is not the endorsement from the Union Leader which I pinged you to earlier. This is from a continuing series appraising the candidates, but it is well worth the read.
Team America Alert!!!
see post #30
Outlawing particular means of political speech for private citizens isn't enough for you? Sheesh!
Yeah, no kidding. Character, as in Keating Five type character?
Make that at odds with the majority of the American people. If McCain had had his way, this country would be finished as we know it.
Fred wasn't in the Senate when the 2006 and 2007 CIR bills came up. And McCain was a leading advocate and heavily involved in both bills. It was really the McCain-Kennedy bill in 2006.
So McCains had some strike outs (some might say - not me), hes also had more home runs than anyone & continues to be true to his convictions w/out compromising his integrity.
Name some home runs. I might also add that McCain's ACU ratings have declined significantly over the past few years. In 2006, it was 65.
Author of a Terrorist Bill of Rights and a strong opponent of free speech for American citizens.
b. On 9 April 1992, at the beginning of the meeting of the Select Committee and prior to the scheduled investigators’ briefing, Senator McCain produced a copy of the intelligence briefing text, with whose contents he strongly disagreed. He charged that the briefing text had already been leaked to a POW/MIA activist, but was reassured by the Chairman that such was not the case. He replied that he was certain it would be leaked. Whereupon, the Chairman assured Senator McCain that there would be no leaks because all copies would be gathered and destroyed, and he gave orders to that effect. No senior staff member or attorney present cautioned against a possible violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2071, or of Senate or Select Committee Rules.
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