Sunday, November 19, 2006


Occasionally when discussing a particular candidate for office you may hear the old phrase, "That guy? I wouldn't vote for him for dogcatcher!"

Taken literally, and assuming that somewhere in the world Dogcatcher is an elected rather than appointed or (more likely) hired position, this is a pretty tough litmus test.

Would George W. Bush really make such a bad dogcatcher? Would he somehow misdirect his efforts to, say, cats? Would he take too many days off, not really take the job seriously until some sort of disaster, say, an attack on the pound, but in his first reaction spend the time reading about goats? Hey, we didn't elect you Goatcatcher, buddy.

Back in the year 2000 when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) began what I imagine even he believed was a quixotic campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination, I was struck by his apparent populism and intelligence. He spoke straight, with a sense of humor, and I enjoyed watching him in unvarnished live video of moderate-sized gatherings on C-SPAN, where he appeared to touch ordinary New Hampshire residents, particularly those who were veterans. I was also impressed by his comforting literacy when he appeared on a more esoteric PBS book-oriented program. Here was the antidote to the GOP backroom choice, W. himself.

When McCain won the New Hampshire primary, I thought he was going all the way to the nomination, and that I might even be able to live with him being elected. While I disagreed with him on several issues, he seemed like a man or real intelligence and integrity. And when Karl Rove orchestrated the racial smear against him in South Carolina, to which he responded as best he could but came up helpless, I thought it despicable and looked forward to the day when McCain would have his moment to get his revenge against Rove and the boy who would be king.

That moment never came. In fact, with the chance of being elected President turned from quixotic to a real possibility in 2008, McCain went ahead and sold his soul to Bush/Rove by campaigning with El Presidente in 2004, as if perhaps a grim deal had been struck whereby the Bush Family would keep Jeb from running until some later date and instead give McCain free reign to win the nomination, if not back him altogether.

After his notorious final cave-in on Bush's torture legislation -- and McCain having been tortured as a POW in Vietnam (maybe why he didn't show up for the Presidential signing of the bill) -- there was little left to admire about the supposed 2008 GOP frontrunner. Then he hired a Rev. Jerry Falwell operative as his communications advisor and did a commencement address at Falwell's "university".

Then he pretty much hit three big cherries on the Sunday morning talk show slot machine today.

- He reverses an earlier position and comes out in support of a Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade that would allow individual states to outlaw a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy.

- He flip-flops around on homosexual rights, endorsing the very "don't ask don't tell" gays in the military policy for which President Bill Clinton was relentlessly criticized by the right, then going on to say that while we should never discriminate against gay Americans, they should never have the right to marry or, per his backing of anti-gay propositions that actually just failed in Arizona, have the full rights of civil union.

- To ice the cake, he once again expressed his desire for more, not less U.S. troops in Iraq. This as the daily death toll rises in their intractable civil war, today another 112 counted dead, with U.S. troops no longer able to do much good at all, and even Henry Kissinger publicly deeming the war unwinnable.

Is this doing whatever it takes to win the Republican nomination by appealing to the same right wing recidivists who just lost the Midterm Election? If so, are we supposed to believe that McCain will not rule this way as President, or use that Bully Pulpit to trumpet such views?

I really used to admire McCain, so while I have far too much respect for the Senator to vote against him for Dogcatcher, I will never cast a vote in his favor for President or any other high office, given the opportunity.

Maybe someday, in his dotage or on his deathbed, McCain will recant like Lee Atwater and wish he had not just stayed on the Straight Talk Express but actually had the more magnanimous and forward-looking positions. But he's violated my trust and that of countless women, gay citizens, unjust torture victims and U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

After an appearance like the one this morning on ABC, I can only hope that his greater political ambitions, for lack of an appropriate genteel metaphor, get shot down in flames.


Anonymous said...

Read about how W spent his time while visiting Vietnam...

Mark Netter said...

Very funny, pointed site, Ripper. Thanks for sharing!