By Becky Fenger
McCain’s Hell week
“We’ve wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives,” he told his host as he discussed the 4-year conflict in Iraq. Many Americans took exception to the idea that lives of their relatives, loved ones and fellow American volunteers had been “wasted.” In fairness, McCain didn’t mean it the way it sounded to some.
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U.S. Senator John McCain
Again, this was really not a case of dissing conservative leaders. If he went and spoke to them, he would be accused of pandering to the right. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.
It was the cover story of the April 2007 issue of Reason, the “free minds and free markets” periodical for those with a libertarian bent, that capped a hellish press week. The cover sported a full-page color photo of McCain looking tired and drained, with a blotchy face that rested on a fat white fist. In school-bus yellow, the headline warned: “Be Afraid of President McCain: The frightening mind of an authoritarian maverick.” Usually he revels in the maverick label, but I’ll bet not this time.
The 9-page spread by Matt Welch, assistant editorial page editor for the Los Angeles Times, portrayed the Arizona senior senator’s philosophical view of the proper role of the federal government. “Like almost every past McCain crusade, from fining Big Tobacco to drug-testing athletes to restricting political speech in the name of campaign finance reform, the [Iraq] surge involved an increase in the power of the federal government, particularly in the executive branch,” Welch writes as he notes that President George W. Bush has deferentially adopted McCain’s hawkish approach to the war.
The author doesn’t miss a chance to point out a weakness that many have cited could do in McCain, and that is his famous violent temper which he inherited from his grandfather and father, along with his short stature and poor academic performance. This was attributed to each of the three McCains being a “five-star binge drinker and carouser.” To his credit, Sen. McCain has never hidden this part of his background and jokes about his fondness for hard partying.
I disagree with the author’s reference to McCain’s war on pork-barrel spending as “rhetorical.” One of my fondest memories is how McCain staunchly refused to go along with constructing the new federal court building in Phoenix some years back like a Taj Mahal. It takes a strong and principled politician to refuse to accept pork that is for his home district. Ditto for his speaking out against ethanol subsidies, knowing what that would do to him in the Iowa caucuses last time he ran.
As much as I praise McCain for his extremely high marks from conservative organizations that rate politicians according to how much they snatch from taxpayers’ wallets, I cannot abide the loss of my First Amendment rights due to his campaign finance “reform” laws and loss of my Second Amendment rights that his gun control legislation would bring.
To top it off, strategist Dick Morris is telling everyone that McCain is fading fast and falling far behind Rudy Giuliani. The only way it could be worse is if McCain had loosed the rats and roaches into the wards at Walter Reed Hospital himself. Some weeks are like that.