Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Seattle Center Skatepark: 199?... | Seattle Legislators Propose Gu... »

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Contenders: John McCain

posted by on January 3 at 14:00 PM

Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.

John McCain.jpg

John McCain

Party: Republican

Age: 70

Status: Exploratory committee formed November 2006

John McCain is a war hero, a media darling, a bit of an iconoclast, and, for a Republican, a relative liberal on social issues. He’s the senior Senator from Arizona and a former presidential candidate who in 2000 famously lost a nasty race for the Republican nomination to George W. Bush.

McCain has a storied record of military service, but his most well-known experience is as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was held for nearly six years and tortured repeatedly, an experience that shaped his opposition last year to some parts of the Bush administration’s policy on detainees and unlawful combatants in the “War on Terror.”

The most interesting part of McCain’s second run for the presidency is his attempt, over the last year, to convince the hard-right of the Republican base that he’s their man. In this month’s Vanity Fair, Todd S. Purdum takes a long look at the painful ideological and moral contortions that McCain is going through to sell himself to people like Reverend Jerry Falwell (whom McCain once described as one of America’s “agents of intolerance” before, last spring, accepting an invitation to give the commencement speech at Falwell’s Liberty University). Purdum asks, essentially, whether McCain is jettisoning a key, compelling aspect of his persona—his professed moral and ideological rigor—in order to take what may be his last and best shot at the presidency. (If McCain wins this time, he would be, at 72, the oldest president ever sworn in.) Purdum’s final answer is yes, McCain is forgetting what he told Boston College students in a commencement address last fall: Follow your inner beliefs and don’t compromise them just because it’s more expedient in the short term, or because a lot of other people might not even realize you’re compromising.

I wish that you always hear the voice in your own heart, when you face hard decisions in your life, to hear it say to you, again and again, until it drowns out every other thought: ‘I will know. I will know. I will know.’

McCain has been a leader on campaign finance reform; a hawk on the Iraq War (he’s recently spoken favorably about a troop surge to combat the civil war); a promoter of the idea that life begins at conception; and has been all over the map on gay marriage, voting against the Federal Marriage Amendment but supporting a failed initiative to ban gay marriage in his home state, and then giving this confusing statement on Hardball…

…which he then clarified, to boos, this way:

McCain is married to Cindy Hensley McCain, who heads a large beer distribution company and is his second wife. He has admitted to having affairs while married to his first wife, Carol Shepp, who had been severely injured in a car accident while he was serving in Vietnam and who looked much different upon his return from the war. They apparently remain on good terms.

McCain has seven children, including a Bangladeshi orphan adopted with his second wife. In the nasty 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina, the Bangladeshi orphan was falsely cast by the Bush campaign as McCain’s illegitimate interracial daughter. Bush won the primary, and McCain was furious and never recovered his momentum. But since then he’s apparently gotten over it.


Yesterday: John Edwards.

RSS icon Comments


Full disclosure: I am at this point in my life a die-hard Democrat, and it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for a Republican.

That being said, McCain used to be one of the few Repugs I grudgingly admired. I served 8 years in the military, and have a great deal of respect for his military service and sacrifice. He used to seem pretty independent and moderate, for a Republican, and has on occasion stood up and refused to tow the party line. While imperfect, you have to give him credit for his efforts at real champaign finance reform.

But honestly, in the last couple of years, I have lost all respect I once had for the man. He publicly denounced Bush's abandonment of the Geneva Conventions, but later basically caved. He used to resist the worst of the right wing crazies, but now openly courts them. It seems obvious that he is now willing to sell his soul, and any credibility he once had, in a last attempt to run for president.

It is way too early to tell, but everyone seems to tout him as the presumed Republican front-runner at this point. He could very well win the R primary.

I'm gonna cry if this weasel ends up being our next president. I would not have said that in 2000. (I would of course still have preferred Gore over McCain in 2000. But if we had to have a R, McCain would have been better than Shrub.)

Right now it seems unlikely to me that he could win a general election. His support of the idea of sending yet more troops to Iraq will cost him a ton of votes, with the war being so unpopular, and getting less popular by the day. But the primaries are a long way off, so who knows?

Posted by SDA in SEA | January 3, 2007 3:55 PM

That is the weirdest hug I've ever seen.

Posted by keshmeshi | January 3, 2007 5:02 PM

status - McCain is dead in the water. won't happen. not gunna be Pres.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 3, 2007 5:02 PM

John McCain is far right on economic and social issues; please correct this misconception. He is against choice, very against marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and also against allowing us to serve openly in the military, to name a few. In fact, he recently stated that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is working well even after the GAO reported it has been a fiscal and practical disaster. Name a social justice or civil rights issue and you'll discover that he's against it.

That picture of him almost sucking at the teat of Bush II is sick, sick, sick, especially when you consider the despicable lies that Bush II and Karl Rove spread about him during the 2000 primaries. The manly simply has no principals or honor.

Sorry, but McCain is as regressive and backward as a Kentucky Klansman --he just has better PR.

Posted by Original Andrew | January 3, 2007 5:10 PM

I don't know if I believe the studies which show that the presidential winner comes down to physical appearance, e.g. presidents are always above average height, and we clearly vote for actors like Reagan and Schwarzenegger and buy into Bush's fake Texas commoner image, and some said that Dukakis lost because he looks too greek. With women such as Hillary Clinton, they are constantly described by their clothes and appearance. If it's true that this is an important principle, McCain isn't quite as beautiful as Clinton, Reagan or Bush, although Giuliani has a lisp. Perhaps they'd have to set him against a funny looking democrat.

Posted by Trudi | January 3, 2007 6:14 PM

Inexplicably, the mainstream media loves McCain. He still has this phony rep of being a maverick and the pundit shows treat him with kid gloves. His great PR will make him tough to beat if he isn't destroyed by scandal or a speaking graff.

Posted by neo-realist | January 3, 2007 10:08 PM

He sold out the people who liked him to court the people who will never fully embrace him.

He's Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls.

Posted by monkey | January 4, 2007 11:48 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).