Saturday, October 11, 2008

The John McCain I Love

I read a news report today that illustrated, for me, the true character of Senator John McCain -- the character that long ago earned my respect, eventually won my support, and ultimately secured my love and loyalty.

Yesterday, according to the article, Senator McCain was at a town-hall meeting in Minnesota where a woman who had the microphone said, "I don't trust Obama. I have read about him. He's an Arab."

At that point Senator McCain took the microphone away from the woman and said, "No, ma'am. He is a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements."

If John McCain only cared about winning an election -- as part of a self-serving agenda -- then he might have considered it to have been in his interest to let this woman be. He might have thought it useful to let her stoke the fearful and bigoted hysteria to which some simple folks at his party's base might respond. But, that is not who John McCain is.

John McCain is an honorable man.
John McCain is a true patriot.
John McCain cares more about his country than a political career.
John McCain is an authentic American hero.

Too often, on both the left and the right, we political activists (and bloggers) have demonstrated a propensity toward slash and burn, scorched earth campaigns. Too often we have allowed ourselves to see "the other side" as being an evil enemy that needed to be destroyed. But, that is a lie. And, that kind of thinking is bad for America.

Our nation is currently divided in an unhealthy and artificial manner. People who would normally recognize that they have a lot in common and share similar values, now find themselves despising one another and buying into extreme agendas that they would not otherwise have accepted if our country were not so polarized. Thus, I am convinced that for our nation's wellbeing we must now seek out and support true statesmen who unite rather than divide us.

Ironically, I think that is exactly what the voters where trying to do when they selected both Barak Obama and John McCain to be the presidential candidates of their respective parties. More than any of the other candidates, these two created the impression that they were the most willing to reach across the political divide in order to serve the common good.

But, apparently, the experienced hands and the big money advisors have since gotten to them and convinced them that they had to go negative in order to win. That's too bad. And, especially in the case of my candidate, John McCain, it seems to be backfiring. (As a Mitt Romney supporter during the primaries, it kind of feels like déjà vu.)

Now, I am not saying that there should not be substantive debate. No! On the contrary! I think that is exactly what we need -- respectful and frank discourse about the individual issues. It's just that I want to hear more "big idea" speeches, and less character assassinating zingers.

Let's hope that Senator McCain and Senator Obama can set a new tone going down the stretch of this election. Whoever wins the presidency is going to have a lot on his plate once he takes office, and all of us are going to need him to be successful. May God bless him, whoever it may be.

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At Saturday, October 11, 2008 10:45:00 PM, Blogger rmwarnick said...

Let's consider another theory. Let's suppose Senator McCain has finally realized that a lot of old, bitter white racists are coming out to see him. Every time these people get media attention, he's losing more votes among the electorate at large.

In recent days, angry supporters at McCain/Palin rallies have loudly called Barack Obama a traitor and a terrorist. They have shouted out "Kill him!" and "Off with his head!"

The reason these extremists are gravitating to McCain might have something to do with the smears his campaign is putting out. All of their advertising budget is now being spent on dishonest attack ads.

It's just embarrassing when the people who take these smears seriously actually show up at events and get on TV themselves. So McCain needs to distance himself from his own base.

At Sunday, October 12, 2008 12:45:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Richard,

John McCain has a long track record. He is a known commodity. We know who he is -- both his strengths and weaknesses. He has a reputation for talking straight, and being the exact opposite of what you are attempting to label him as being.

In fact, none of his long time Democratic colleagues in the Senate would go along with your theory. To a person, they would back-up what I have written. Joe Biden and many other prominent Democrats are on the record with their praise of John McCain and his character.

So, for you and or any other rabid partisan to now try and portray him as being something else is cynical and dishonest. It puts you in that same lunatic fringe as the folks you criticize.

Is that really where you want to be? Aren't you better than that?

Come on, if you are involved in grassroots Democratic politics then you know that you too have your share of racists, bigots, and embarrassments. And, Senator Obama has had to distance himself from them as well. (Ayers, Wright, etc.) So, let's not play those games, okay?


At Sunday, October 12, 2008 4:59:00 PM, Blogger rmwarnick said...

I was a dedicated McCainiac in 2000, campaigning for him in the Utah Primary. But that was eight years ago.

Since then, Senator McCain has completely reversed his positions on practically every issue I care about. The only exception is that McCain still says he is against oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge-- but his running mate is a strong supporter of drilling in ANWR!

In terms of temperament, McCain is unsuited to the office of President. Just look at how he has flip-flopped all over the place on the financial and economic crisis (a result of Bush administration policies that McCain supported 100 percent).

I'll grant you that John McCain is probably uncomfortable to be running a campaign based on lies about his opponent. He's probably uncomfortable with the race-baiting, too. But he approved those TV ads and he went out and questioned Senator Obama's patriotism again and again in speeches.

It's McCain's campaign and he will have to take responsibility for it.

At Sunday, October 12, 2008 9:15:00 PM, Blogger Nick said...

I found what McCain said to be racist and offensive.

He should have said, "No ma'am, Obama is not an Arab. This is a matter of facts. However, in our country, race shouldn't even matter."

Instead, he said, "No, ma'am, He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with."

Arabs can be citizens, they can also be decent family people (and often are).

Imagine if someone accused John McCain of being Mormon (just as silly of an accusation), and the answer from the Obama camp was, "No sir, he's a Christian, with one wife, who I just happen to have disagreements with."

See the latent bigotry?

At Sunday, October 12, 2008 10:46:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Sunday, October 12, 2008 10:57:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Sunday, October 12, 2008 10:59:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Richard and Nick,

It has been my experience that we as human beings are often quite selective in our perception of reality. In other words, we choose to see the good in the people we want to believe are good, and choose to see the bad in those whom we want to believe are bad. We only seek the evidence for that which we already have chosen to believe, ignoring that which would undermine our bias. And, in my humble opinion, both of your posts are perfect specimens of this phenomenon:

1. Both the McCain and the Obama campaigns have leveled unfair and misleading attacks against the opposing candidate. That should be obvious. Yet, you only condemn McCain.

2. Both McCain and Obama have reversed themselves on some fairly big issues. McCain for example is now for increased offshore oil drilling, and Obama has now chosen not to live up to his earlier pledge to limit himself to public campaign financing. We all know that. Yet, you can only comment upon McCain’s reversals.

3. Both Clinton and Bush administration policies have contributed to the sub-prime mortgage crisis that lies at the heart of the world credit crunch. This is widely accepted. Yet, you want to pin it all on the Bush administration, and by association, John McCain.

But, if you and I were truly honest, we would say something more like the following:

Both John McCain and Barak Obama are fine men, whose basic inclination is to reach across the isle, to be pragmatic instead of dogmatic, and to find honorable solutions in a bipartisan manner. But, they have both been convinced by their handlers to go on the attack against their opponent, even if such resulted in collateral damage to fairness and truth. In other words the man who claims to be a maverick, and the man who claims to offer change, both gave us politics as usual – no maverick, and no change.

That’s the truth. Who has the guts to tell it like it is?

Apparently, my friends, neither of you.

Instead, Richard, you make the shockingly irresponsible accusation that McCain has resorted to “race baiting.” I have seen no evidence of that whatsoever. I think that if you are going to make such a serious claim that you need to provide a specific and verifiable example. But, you have failed to do that, so I am going to give the Senator the benefit of the doubt.

And, please forgive me Nick, but you make the most ridiculous and clumsy attempt to spin what was a transparently responsible act of Senator McCain into a racist statement. I am embarrassed for you. Barak Obama, himself, acknowledged the decency of what John McCain did. Why can’t you? Can’t you see that you do your candidate a terrible disservice by pulling a stunt like that?

My friends, if I have been too hard on you, please accept my apology. It’s just that I am so tired of politics as usual. I want big ideas, not character assassination. I want to see a candidate’s vision, and to hear their plans to carry it out, not this mindless cheap shot artistry that passes for political commentary.

In the future, please tell me why you support Barak Obama. Please tell me how he won your support. That is what interests me.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and for your patience with my imperfections. Please understand that I do not claim to be better than you. No, the reason why I think I can see your alleged failings so clearly is because I have a life time of doing the exact same thing. I'm tired of it in myself, and I don’t enjoy being reminded of my own weaknesses by seeing them in others. It kind of makes me grumpy. I’m sorry.


At Monday, October 13, 2008 11:05:00 AM, Blogger rmwarnick said...

"My friends," talk about drinking the McCain Kool-Aid.

Republicans have controlled the White House, the Congress or both for 26 of the last 28 years. Yet you refuse to admit responsibility for the current condition of America.

President Bush alone is responsible for five history-making catastrophes: not stopping the 9/11 attacks, the failed war on terror, the unconscionable invasion of Iraq, incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina, and the mortgage meltdown which is now causing a worldwide economic crisis.

What did Senator John McCain do? He tried to stop Bush in 2000 (I was with him them), but after that he fell in line and voted for everything on the Republican agenda.

John McCain, in the most stomach-churning reversal of all, even voted for Bush's policy of using torture. Of all people, McCain must know that torture is morally wrong and does not even work as an interrogation technique.

Now the McCain campaign is catering to racists, which is not as bad as supporting torture but similarly revealing. McCain has traded in his honor for what he thought would be a political advantage. Have you seen the McCain campaign attack ads?

The McCain campaign continues to accuse Barack Obama of being a terrorist. On Saturday, the Virginia GOP chairman directly compared Senator Obama to Osama bin Laden. When asked about that comment, Senator McCain appeared to support it.

At Monday, October 13, 2008 3:00:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Richard,

You are right, my friend, I do sip McCain's Kool-Aid now and then. I confess it's true. But, and I mean this primarily as a joke so please laugh, you appear to inject the Daily Kos absinthe directly into the vein on your neck. (No filtering whatsoever, the propaganda just shoots straight to the brain where it is accepted as fact.)

I know that I have not been as gentle with you as I should have been, so I bear some of the responsibility for you now being stirred-up like a hornets nest. But, in my defense, you have come onto my blog and posted some pretty outrageous statements:

(1) Like, for instance, you actually blame George W. Bush for 9/11! How do I respond to that?

That's kind of like Blaming FDR for Pearl Harbor, or Bill Clinton for the first attack on the Twin Towers. I'm sorry, but I'm guessing that if you were to say something like that at a Barack Obama rally he would feel compelled to take the microphone out of your hand and say something to distance himself from you.

(2) Once again, you have played the race card against John McCain, and once again you have failed to provide a verifiable example to back up your claim that he is "race baiting." Come on, my friend, if what you are saying is true, then please provide a link to some video of him so engaged. Otherwise, please refrain from leveling this extremely serious accusation.

And, as for torture, John McCain has consistently opposed the administration when it comes to anything resembling that practice. Everybody knows that. So, it would seem to me that his honor remains fully in tact on that score.

(3) At last, your final point provides the perfect example of the problem I have been lamenting here. You wrote:

"The McCain campaign continues to accuse Barack Obama of being a terrorist. On Saturday, the Virginia GOP chairman directly compared Senator Obama to Osama bin Laden. When asked about that comment, Senator McCain appeared to support it."

This time, however, gratefully, you actually provide links to the material being addressed. (Thank you for that.) The following is the transcript:

INTERVIEWER: We have a couple of seconds remaining. The chair of the Republican Party in Virginia has said, quote in Time Magazine, 'Both Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden have friends that have bombed the Pentagon. That is scary.' Is that appropriate for a state party chair to be saying?"

MCCAIN: "I have to look at the context of his remarks. I have always repudiated any comments that have been made that were inappropriate about Senator Obama. The fact is that William Ayers was a terrorist and bomber and unrepentant. I don’t care about that. But, Sen. Obama ought to be candid and truthful about his relationship with Mr. Ayers in whose living room Senator Obama launched his campaign and Senator Obama said he was just a guy in the neighborhood."

Richard, how can you construe McCain's comments above to him supporting the act of calling Senator Obama a terrorist? As any reader can see, that just did not take place. Your accusation is false.

The fact is that the McCain campaign has only half-heartedly gone after Senator Obama with regard to his associates, even though many believe there is legitimate material there to be addressed -- material that allegedly exposes Senator Obama to be, not a terrorist, but someone who possesses extremely far left views about the United States and it's historical place in the world.

For example, most of us have grown up believing that the United States, though imperfect, has been a force for good in the world -- Americans are the good guys. But, some Republicans believe that when we put all of Obama's closest associates together, we see a picture of a man who possesses a different view of America -- one that sees the United States as historically demonstrating itself to be bad, and that it must now be fundamentally and revolutionarily "changed." (Remember Michelle Obama's statement that this was the first time she was proud of her country?)

If that's true, and it could be successfully conveyed to the American people, Barack Obama would lose the election.

But, to his credit, John McCain has actually been reigning in his campaign when it comes to going after these associates, like Reverend Wright, precisely because he didn't want to open the racial can of worms. So, when you make your accusations about him "race baiting," or him calling Obama a "terrorist," I know that to be false. He is actually doing the exact opposite.

The truth is that sometimes simple folks show up at political rallies, and sometimes in their enthusiasm they say foolish things. (This has always been the case for both parties.) Ironically, sometimes even basically decent folks will slip and say something false, or post an outrageous comment onto another person's blog -- sincerely and well intentioned -- but categorically false. In my mind, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama can be held accountable for what such individuals do.


P.S. My friend, please try the Kool-Aid. It tastes great!

At Monday, October 13, 2008 6:59:00 PM, Blogger Nick said...

And, please forgive me Nick, but you make the most ridiculous and clumsy attempt to spin what was a transparently responsible act of Senator McCain into a racist statement. I am embarrassed for you. Barak Obama, himself, acknowledged the decency of what John McCain did. Why can’t you? Can’t you see that you do your candidate a terrible disservice by pulling a stunt like that?

You assume, one, that I'm an American citizen, and two, that I support Obama. (Both happen to be true, but that's besides the point.) This isn't about politics for me. It's about racism.

Note that I'm not calling McCain a bigot or a racist. I would say what he said was responsible, and was transparent. I think he believed what he said, free of scheming and politics. It was the latent racism that bothered me.

When I was a kid, my grandmother and I were picking through a bag of nuts when I asked what something was. "Ni**er toes," was her answer. (They were Brazil nuts.) I would never consider her a racist, but would anyone consider that statement to be anything but?

What John McCain said was entirely void and vacuous unless there is something wrong with being an Arab. It wouldn't make sense it any other context. It's a non sequitur at its absolute best.

Note that McCain isn't the only person who has said things like this: Hillary Clinton has said similar.

Tell you what: Ask a Muslim or an Arab about what they thought of McCain's statement before you call my comment ridiculous. You might learn something. Many of these children of God have suffered in the US since 9/11.

At Monday, October 13, 2008 8:50:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Nick,

John McCain's response needs to be taken within context to be understood. He was at a rally where some of the grassroots supporters present where getting on him for not taking the battle to Obama with the level of aggression that they deemed to be appropriate.

One of these folks, an expectant father, actually expressed his fear of bringing a child into a world with a President Obama. (There are numerous viral email messages floating around the Internet claiming that Barack is an Islamic terrorist mole, the Anti-Christ, or some other such entity.) McCain stopped this man and told him that he had nothing to fear from an Obama Presidency and that Barack Obama was a decent man. In fact, Senator McCain was so honorable, and so willing to stand up to the extreme fear mongering taking place, that the crowd actually booed him at his own rally.

Think about that for second.

I, personally, was so inspired by this transparently courageous and principled act of Senator John McCain that I came out of blog hibernation to post a tribute. (I want to encourage this kind of behavior.) And, being caught-up in the ecumenical spirit of the moment, I actually leveled criticism at both sides of the isle for the irresponsible negative campaigning that I believe is damaging this country.

Now, enter Richard and Nick.

I know that I am an imperfect and foolish man. I am sorry that I am not better, but I am doing the best that I can. And, in my humble opinion, the material that both you and Richard posted to my blog was the exact same type of inflammatory, inaccurate, and irresponsible material that I believe is dragging our nation down.

I felt that your comments missed the obvious point. Everything John McCain said was accurate. Nothing he said was incorrect or racist. (Nothing he said was even close to your Brazil nuts example.) He is not the one who implied there was something wrong with being an Arab. The elderly woman did that, and he was contradicting her, telling her she was wrong. How is it that you cannot see that?

In my opinion, you appear to be nitpicking him because he did not elaborate by saying the actual words, “Oh, by the way, there is nothing wrong with being an Arab.” But, that was the clear spirit and intention of what he was doing by countering the woman’s statement. Nick, I’m sorry my brother, but I honestly believe that your criticism is invalid and unfair. My intention in telling you this is not to offend or embarrass you, but rather to stand up in defense of what was obviously the heroic act an American statesman. That’s all.

God bless you, my friend.


At Monday, October 13, 2008 10:28:00 PM, Blogger rmwarnick said...

You chose to put your own unique interpretation on Senator McCain's defense of the Barack Obama - Osama bin Laden comparison. This is colored by your statement that McCain hasn't gone far enough in smearing Senator Obama.

McCain has put himself in a trap, by personally making the accusation that Obama associated with a "terrorist." I note that William Ayers has never been convicted of a crime.

OTOH McCain happens to be closely associated with several unrepentant convicted criminals: Charles Keating (fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy), Ahmed Chalabi (bank fraud, embezzlement and espionage) and G. Gordon Liddy (conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping). Let's look at that last association.

According to Carl Bernstein:

"During the same period that Bill Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground, Gordon Liddy was making plans to firebomb a Washington think tank, assassinate a prominent journalist, undertake the Watergate burglary, break into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, and kidnap anti-war protesters at the 1972 Republican convention.

...In 1998, Liddy gave a fundraiser in his Scottsdale, Arizona home for McCain's senatorial re-election campaign -- the two posed for photographs together; and as recently as May, 2007, as a presidential candidate, McCain was a guest on Liddy's syndicated radio show. Inexplicably, McCain heaped praise on his host's values. During the segment, McCain said he was "proud" of Liddy, and praised Liddy's 'adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.'"

If I were John McCain, I would think about the old adage, "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks." His campaign of character assassination against Obama is not going well for him. McCain will get the racist vote, but he'll lose the election.

At Monday, October 13, 2008 11:54:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Richard,

My brother, I did not state that "McCain hasn't gone far enough in smearing Senator Obama." I did not write anything close to that.

I did, however, attempt to explain to you the rationale of SOME Republicans for identifying Obama's associates, because you seemed to be having trouble distinguishing the difference between calling Obama a terrorist, and pointing out that he has exhibited a pattern of associating with individuals possessing extreme leftist views -- including a certain 1960's era radical domestic terrorist.

I did not say that was my position. I actually have repeatedly stated that I disapproved of the tendency of both sides to engage in negative campaign tactics, that I considered such to be bad for the country, and that it actually appeared to be backfiring on my candidate.

So, please go back and re-read my posts. Hopefully, my true position will come through, because I don't know how to make it any clearer.

Does that sound fair? I hope so. God bless you, bud.


At Tuesday, October 14, 2008 1:05:00 PM, Blogger rmwarnick said...

You're equating lies, smear tactics and character assassination with factual albeit "negative" ads. That's a false equivalence.

I think it's interesting that nobody at an Obama rally has ever been reported as yelling "Kill him!" when Senator McCain gets mentioned from the podium. Yet every day, people at McCain/Palin events are calling for blood.

At Tuesday, October 14, 2008 2:29:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Richard,

No sir. What you are saying is not correct.

I want to be clear. I am not talking about factual ads that happen to be negative. I am saying that there are both Democrats and Republicans resorting to "lies, smear tactics, and character assassination" to accomplish their political objectives.

And, please forgive me, my absinthe neck-injecting friend, but I am specifically accusing you of being complicit (either knowingly or unknowingly) in such destructive activity.

On my blog alone, you have made outrageously false statements regarding both George Bush and John McCain. And, you didn't stop there. You also repeatedly misrepresented my own written words, even though they are out there for all to see.

Talk about chutzpa!

My brother, I don't know if you are such a zealous partisan that you can't really see what you are doing. Or, if you are actually just a cynical operative willing to stoop to any level in the pursuit of your agenda. All I do know is that much of the material you are publishing is false. And, I am convinced that what you are doing is unhealthy for both you and society.

Was that blunt enough? It was probably too blunt, huh? I'm sorry. Please tell me your side of the story.


At Tuesday, October 14, 2008 3:02:00 PM, Blogger rmwarnick said...

The irony that you don't see: I'm not a "zealous partisan." I am actually a registered Republican and I was a die-hard McCainiac in 2000. I'm saddened to see the depths my former hero has sunk to.

I just care about the truth. From your perspective, I guess that makes me some kind of a partisan because I don't buy the McCain campaign's lies.

At Tuesday, October 14, 2008 3:18:00 PM, Blogger rmwarnick said...

Just as a parting comment on this post, I'd like to invite you to check out my posts over at One Utah. All comments welcome.

At Tuesday, October 14, 2008 4:48:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Richard,

Thank you for the discussion and the invitation to your blog. I am actually quite familiar with OneUtah -- probably the most prolific team of local blog writers around. I had a pleasant exchange with Glenden long ago, and I actually owe Cliff a follow-up response to his "Dialog with a Mormon Republican" post. I've been stringing him along now for what must be close to nine months, so I better get my act together and finish that discussion.

Anyway, thank you for the talk, my brother. Take care and God bless!



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