June 14, 2006


Who Is the Real McCain? (Bob Geiger, 6/14/06, AlterNet)

The biggest disconnect from reality comes in the public perception of McCain as a potential president whose strong suit would be national security, even though his record in the 109th Congress alone shows a man who follows the senate majority leader's commands, no matter how much weaker those edicts make our country.

Here are just a handful of things McCain voted against in 2005 and 2006, and bear in mind that these 'nay' votes were not procedural devices to simply allow him to vote for Republican bills with similar, noble intent -- though it would certainly torpedo his bipartisan, centrist mantle if that were the case. McCain voted against a large number of such bills to bolster homeland security, support troops and help Veterans, with no Republican alternatives and while offering no substantive legislation himself to strengthen America:

* Sen. Daniel Akaka's, D-Hawaii, S.Amdt. 3007, which was intended to increase veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in 2007 by closing corporate tax loopholes.

* Three bills by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., -- S.Amdt. 3056, S.Amdt. 1687 and S.Amdt. 1217 -- that would have provided critical funds for interoperable communications equipment for emergency first responders so that they could effectively communicate with one another during natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other public safety situations.

* S.Amdt.2737, sponsored by Jack Reed, D-R.I., sought a rollback in capital gains tax cuts to purchase much-needed equipment for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We have the responsibility to be responsible, not only give the troops what they need but pay for it so we do not increase the deficit," argued Reed on the Senate floor at the time. "I hope we respond by supporting my amendment which takes care of the troops but does so in a responsible way by providing the resources to pay for this necessary equipment."

* Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., had two amendments defeated by the GOP (S.Amdt. 1189 and S.Amdt. 1190) that would have provided $70 million to identify and track hazardous materials shipments and fund new security programs for inspection of air cargo containers.

* Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., both had legislation killed -- S.Amdt. 2634 and S.Amdt. 344, respectively -- that would have funded additional medical care and readjustment counseling "… for [Iraq] veterans with mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, or substance use disorder."

The common denominator in all of these was McCain, the alleged maverick, doing exactly what his masters told him to do: He voted against every single one of these bills designed to bolster our national security and care for our veterans and active military.

So what should voters truly make of McCain as he begins what will most assuredly be a run for the presidency in 2008? Looking at reality, versus a facade strangely reinforced by an overly fawning media would be a good start.

While McCain stridently voted to impeach and remove Bill Clinton from office during Clinton's 1999 trial, he has done absolutely nothing to call George W. Bush to account for lying America into a war and for breaking the law in spying on millions of Americans without a warrant. And, in embracing Falwell, as he now does, the man many like to consider a moderate is lining himself up squarely with a man who once said, "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers … AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

With friends like those, even in Bush's America, you're not a moderate.

And while some actually believe that McCain takes a "moderate" stance on gay marriage because he has said repeatedly that he will vote against a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, that's not exactly his position, as he is too happy to point out to the Religious Right. McCain would only vote against a constitutional amendment if it would supersede a pending, Arizona gay-marriage measure, which he strongly supports.

If the Arizona ban was struck down, McCain would switch gears and vote for a federal prohibition on gay marriage via a constitutional amendment.

"I will vote against a constitutional amendment, which will come before the Senate on this issue, because I think the states should decide. That's the essence of federalism," said McCain, appearing on Meet the Press in April. "In my state of Arizona, we have a ballot initiative on this issue, which I am supporting. And so … if through the court process, they say that that's not constitutional, then I would support a constitutional amendment."

He's also been a leader in the Bush Crew's attempts to blind Americans with fear to regain support for the war in Iraq. "We must win in Iraq. We cannot fail. If we lose in Iraq, they're coming after us. We will fight them somewhere else -- like here," said McCain this month at the Utah Republican Party Convention. "It's all part of a gigantic, titanic struggle between good and evil."

Finally, it is important for voters to examine McCain's entire political identity which shows him to be a 98-pound political weakling who does best when others tell him what to do and who is every bit a George W. Bush conservative.

"I haven't changed. My record is the same on all issues, which is that of a conservative Republican," said McCain in early May. "Not a liberal Republican, not a moderate Republican."

And, on that, it is very important for Americans to take McCain at his word.

Isn't the biggest disconnect from reality the idea that a guy who was winning GOP presidential primaries wasn't a rock-ribbed conservative?

Democrats remain divided on prospect of troop withdrawal in Iraq (Jeff Zeleny, 6/14/06, Chicago Tribune)

The fissures inside the Democratic Party over the war in Iraq were on vivid display here Tuesday during rare back-to-back speeches before a crowd of liberal activists whose cheers — and jeers — underscored the challenges facing the party. "It is important that we recognize the real dangers we face," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who renewed her opposition to setting a date for U.S. troop withdrawal. "Sometimes this is a difficult conversation, in part because this administration has made our world more dangerous than it should have been."

The senator talked over moments of heckling, hissing and booing from a Democratic audience as she sought to explain why she believes it would not be a "smart strategy" to create a specific timeline to leave Iraq. But Clinton said Iraqis must ultimately assume responsibility for their own security, saying: "That is not the job of the American military."

As she left the stage, a chorus of cries began to swell: "Bring the troops home! Bring the troops home! Bring the troops home!"

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who is proposing a Senate amendment calling for most troops to be withdrawn by the end of the year, captivated the same crowd only minutes later with an impassioned criticism of the war. He restated his regret for initially supporting the Iraq war and chastised other politicians, but not mentioning Clinton by name, for failing to follow suit.

Liberal Activists Boo Clinton (Dan Balz, June 14, 2006, Washington Post)
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) drew boos and hisses from an audience of liberal activists yesterday as she defended her opposition to a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, and later she received an implicit rebuke from Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) for failing to acknowledge that her support for the war was a mistake.

Clinton's and Kerry's appearances at the Take Back America conference at the Washington Hilton put on vivid display the Democratic Party's divisions over the foreign policy issue that dominates this year's midterm elections, and the two possible 2008 presidential candidates offered a preview of the debate that could dominate the battle for the party's nomination.

Clinton and Kerry supported the 2002 congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 14, 2006 8:03 AM

I suspect that a consequence of all this, whether intended or unintended, is to give the remaining senior and junior members of the axis of evil incentive to attempt to run out the clock on the remainder of the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Rick T. at June 14, 2006 10:50 AM

Rick, Be easy. Bush has his own agenda and it doesn't include leaving office with any junior or senior strings hanging. Remember he said, you can accomplish a lot if you don't care who gets the credit (or blame).

Posted by: erp at June 14, 2006 11:52 AM

Rick, I think the axis of evil nations realized that, since Bush couldn't handle even an invasion of Iraq, they were in the clear.

I seriously don't think they're deeply concerned about the man that couldn't stay upright on a Segway.

Posted by: jpe at June 14, 2006 2:21 PM


Moammar Qaddafi disagrees with you. So do the Iraqi people.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 14, 2006 2:35 PM

So does Assad who was forced out of Lebanon and Arafat and Schroeder and de Villepin....

Posted by: oj at June 14, 2006 4:30 PM

Isn't the biggest disconnect from reality the idea that a guy who was winning GOP presidential primaries wasn't a rock-ribbed conservative?

You don't think the President is a rock-ribbed conservative.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 14, 2006 5:24 PM

There was nothing to choose between them as regards conservastism, only vision of the future. McCain would have been more orthodox, like Ike, Nixon & Reagan. Bush grasped the Third Way, like Pinochet, Maggie, Blair, Clinton, Gingrich, etc.

Posted by: oj at June 14, 2006 5:27 PM

McCain will be elected President in '08, and, if the GOP is not truly the stupid party, J. Kenneth Blackwell, then Gov. of OH, will be his VP.
2012 & 2016 will, of course, then be the Blackwell years.
Unfortunately, seriously doubt I'll live that long.

Posted by: Mike Daley at June 14, 2006 10:59 PM