What to Believe About John McCain?
Recently, several people have sent me a chain email with the title "10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't)". I've seen enough chain emails over the years to recognize that some are legitimate, but far more are, at best, junk, or at worst, more nefarious. So, I decided to check with the source. It appears that the genesis of this email is MoveOn.org. While I agree with some of the positions espoused by MoveOn.org, I have had some concerns about some of the things that have come from that organization. Furthermore, I'm not naive enough to think that, just because a particular political organization says something is true, then that something is, in fact true.
Nevertheless, with those caveats aside, it is worth reprinting the list of things that voters "should know" about John McCain (at least according to MoveOn.org). I'm not reprinting them solely for the purpose of attacking McCain or his supporters; rather, my purpose is to offer McCain's supporters (or the candidate himself?) an opportunity to rebut these allegations and to offer those who may not know much about Sen. McCain an opportunity to learn a bit more. So, if you support Sen. McCain (or the Republican platform), take a minute to review these allegations and let me know if they are accurate or not; but, if you do rebut the allegations, please offer some evidence to support your position (as MoveOn.org has offered citations and link in support of the allegations). (Note that I've modified the original post by moving the citations to immediately follow each allegation.)
- John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has “evolved,” yet he’s continued to oppose key civil rights laws. “The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day,” ABC News, April 3, 2008; “McCain Facts,” ColorOfChange.org, April 4, 2008.
- According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain “will make Cheney look like Gandhi.” “McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq,” Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008; “Buchanan: John McCain ‘Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi,‘” ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008.
- His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban. “McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill,” ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008.
- McCain opposes a woman’s right to choose. He said, “I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned.” “McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned,” MSNBC, February 18, 2007.
- The Children’s Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children’s health care bill last year, then defended Bush’s veto of the bill. “2007 Children’s Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard,” February 2008; “McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion,” CNN, October 3, 2007.
- He’s one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a “second job” and skip their vacations. “Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady,” Associated Press, April 3, 2008; “McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End 'Systemic Risk,'” Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008
- Many of McCain’s fellow Republican senators say he’s too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He’s erratic. He’s hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.” “Will McCain’s Temper Be a Liability?,” Associated Press, February 16, 2008; “Famed McCain temper is tamed,” Boston Globe, January 27, 2008.
- McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates. “Black Claims McCain’s Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: ‘I Don’t Know What The Criticism Is,‘” ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008; “McCain’s Lobbyist Friends Rally ‘Round Their Man,” ABC News, January 29, 2008.
- McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his “spiritual guide,” Rod Parsley, believes America’s founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a “false religion.” McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church “the Antichrist” and a “false cult.” “McCain’s Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam,” Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008; “Will McCain Specifically ‘Repudiate’ Hagee’s Anti-Gay Comments?,” ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008; “McCain ‘Very Honored’ By Support Of Pastor Preaching ‘End-Time Confrontation With Iran,’” ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008.
- He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year. “John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record,” Sierra Club, February 28, 2008.
Only a few of these allegations are, by themselves, of the "disqualifying" variety; however, taken as a whole, these allegations, if true, suggest that John McCain would truly be bad for the United States.
One of my reasons for highlighting these allegations is the concern that has been growing recently following discussions with others about the fall election. Numerous people have said, point blank, that while they want to vote for a Democrat in the fall, if the candidate is Barack Obama, they will vote for McCain, while a similar number of people have said the exact same thing in reference to Hillary Clinton. Perhaps these statements are being made "in the heat of battle" as the Democratic candidates continue to bash each other and Sen. McCain gets a veritable free pass until after the conventions. Or, perhaps, it is simply that people have not really stopped to learn more about John McCain, his positions, and his personality. I hope that's all it is; I sincerely hope that, come the November election, people will consider the candidates on the basis of all of the information and not on snap judgments made during the primary process. But I also hope that those people who say, even though they want a Democrat as President, that they will vote for Sen. McCain instead of Sen. Obama/Sen. Clinton, will take some time now to learn more about Sen. McCain before so glibly making pronouncements about their intent in the general election, especially in the weeks leading up to Indiana's own primary which may help decide who will be the Democratic candidate.