Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Myth of McCain as Political Maverick

David Ignatius has a positively silly column in the Washington Post today in which he parrots the lame old myth of 2008 presidential hopeful John McCain as a straight-talking, tough-guy maverick who damns political consequences and goes his own way. As a Veteran with boundless admiration for McCain's heroic conduct during his imprisonment in Vietnam, I must also evaluate his career incarnation which, if you examine his record, shows him to be a 98-pound political weakling, who does best when others tell him what to do.

Even putting aside his nauseating and ongoing devotion to the White House after what Team Bush did to smear him, his wife and his child in the 2000 presidential primary, McCain's Senate record shows a man who toes the party line and is a straight-shooting nonconformist only when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Bill Frist tell him he's allowed to be.

The biggest disconnect from reality comes in the public perception of McCain as a potential president whose strong suit would be national security, even though his record in the 109th Congress shows a man who follows the Senate Majority Leader's commands, no matter how much weaker those edicts make our country.

Here are just a few samples of the things McCain voted against in 2005 and 2006, while offering no substantive legislation himself to strengthen America:
  • Senator Daniel Akaka's (D-HI) S.Amdt. 3007, which was intended to increase Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in 2007 by closing corporate tax loopholes.
  • Three bills by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) -- S.Amdt. 3056, S.Amdt. 1687 and S.Amdt. 1217 -- that would have provided critical funds for interoperable communications equipment for emergency first responders so that they could effectively communicate with one another during natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other public safety situations.
  • Christopher Dodd's (D-CT) S.Amdt.2735, which was intended to “…support the health needs of our veterans and military personnel and reduce the deficit by making tax rates fairer for all Americans.” In short, the measure proposed additional funding to shore up the failing infrastructures at Veterans hospitals all over the country. The bill would have mandated a minor rollback in the capital gains tax cuts the Bush administration has given to the richest one-fifth of one percent of Americans.
  • S.Amdt.2737, sponsored by Jack Reed (D-RI) sought a rollback in capital gains tax cuts to purchase much-needed equipment for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We have the responsibility to be responsible, not only give the troops what they need but pay for it so we do not increase the deficit,” argued Reed on the Senate floor at the time. “I hope we respond by supporting my amendment which takes care of the troops but does so in a responsible way by providing the resources to pay for this necessary equipment.”
  • Charles Schumer (D-NY) had two amendment defeated by the GOP (S.Amdt. 1189 and S.Amdt. 1190) that would have provided $70 million to identify and track hazardous materials shipments and fund new security programs for inspection of air cargo containers.
  • S.Amdt. 16, by Dick Durbin (D-IL), would have exempted military people from some facets of the GOP's hideous 2005 Bankruptcy Bill by disallowing "… certain claims by lenders charging usurious interest rates to service members, and to allow service members to exempt property based on the law of the State of their premilitary residence."
  • Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) both had legislation killed -- S.Amdt. 2634 and S.Amdt. 344, respectively -- that would have funded additional medical care and readjustment counseling "…for [Iraq] veterans with mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, or substance use disorder."
The common denominator in all of these was McCain, the alleged maverick, doing exactly what his masters told him to do and voting against every single one of these bills designed to bolster our national security and care for our Veterans and active military.

As McCain himself is quoted as saying in Ignatius's column, "It's awfully hard to say no to the president of the United States."

Yes, we can tell.