Thursday, 22 February 2007


Ken Berwitz

At the outset I want to make something 100% clear.  I consider John McCain an American hero.  He is a man of unquestionable courage, character and valor.  I can't even begin to imagine how anyone could think less of him. 

What he did in Vietnam, the years he spent as a prisoner of war, his refusal to leave unless his comrades were allowed to leave as well, puts him in a class of one.   He has earned my undying admiration and respect.

Unfortunately, however, there is also a politician by the name of John McCain.  Same fellow.  And John McCain, the politician, scares the hell out of me.

The least of what I don't like about John McCain the politician is the shifting sands of his positions on issues.  He has gone from being a Christian conservative, to a Christian conservative with a few maverick positions on issues that - by a wonderful coincidence - would probably gain him votes in an election.  Then he was an ersatz Democrat when John Kerry was pretending to consider him for the Vice Presidency.  Then he went back to being a Christian conservative with a few maverick views.  And now, his current incarnation is a chameleon, perfectly willing to say this one day, that another, and be whatever you'd like him to be.

McCain is 71 years old this year. .  In 2012 he will be 76, and almost certainly past the point of any realistic chance at the presidency.  So this is his last hurrah. And he is pulling out all stops. 

Support the troop surge?  Sure, it brings home some Republican Iraq-support votes.  Crap on Rumsfeld and accuse Bush of mishandling the war for years?  Sure, it brings home some anti-war votes.  Stick by the McCain Feingold campaign financing legislation that has managed to do the impossible - i.e. make a terrible, unfair system of campaign contributions significantly worse and more unfair?  Sure, it keeps the sheeple who have been deluded into thinking McCain-Feingold actually accomplished something positive in the fold.

A couple of days ago, David Geffen said that all politicians lie, but the casual ease with which the Clintons lie makes them particularly troublesome.  He was almost right.  Most politicians do lie (not all, that's where he has it wrong).  This is as true of one side of the aisle as it is of the other. 

So when McCain changes positions, I can't say I'm surprised.  How many of them don't?  And of that small number, how many are in districts where they would pay a price for it?  Not everyone is in Charlie Rangel's Harlem or Jerrold Nadler's Brooklyn, where the only way a Democrat could lose is if he DID change a position. 

Some people actually have to deal with multi-dimensional electorates.  Therefore John McCain's position changes, distasteful though they may be, are de rigueur in politics. That is not my biggest problem with him.

My biggest problem with John McCain is that I consider him a ticking time bomb.

Listen to that controlled, monotonal, deliberate enunciation of every word.  Look at the blandness of the facial expression.  And be scared. 

John McCain is not an unflappable neutral-dispositioned drone.  This is a man who has gone through three wives and is legendary in the senate for his temper.  Make no mistake:  the person being put in front of you for your voting consideration is not John McCain.  It is a concoction.  A mask.  A charade.

How different John McCain must be from the way he is being marketed.  Think of "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers".  Think of Laurence Harvey in "The Manchurian Candidate".  The idea that he could have his finger anywhere near the nuclear trigger makes me cringe.  

I am, to say the least, no fan of Hillary Clinton's.  But if John McCain ran against Ms. Clinton, I would hold my nose (until it bled) and vote for her.  She may be amoral, devious and socialistic.  But congress can stop her harebrained programs.  I have less to fear from Ms. Clinton as commander in chief than I do from John McCain.

I began this piece by saying that I have the utmost respect for John McCain, the man.  That still goes.  To say the least, what he is he has come by honestly. 

But that doesn't change the fact that he IS what he is.  And what he is should not be sitting in the oval office.

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