25 April 2008

The old McCain, he ain't what he used to be.

    My friends, this is a defining issue...
      John McCain
    ...until you get the nomination.
      Keith Olbermann

Gone is the John McCain of 2000, that's for damn sure.

This is what I was thinking as I read this Washington Post story about McCain's recent tax policy reversals. It is not really surprising. He became a cheerleader for Bush's failed foreign policy, so why not do the same with fiscal policies?

It is just one more sign of his last-chance, stop-at-nothing bid for the presidency. Clearly he wants it badly, and he'll do whatever he thinks it takes. Hell, he has even welcomed the masterminds of the 2000 smear campaign against him.

None of this surprises me, not anymore. I knew McCain had no shame whatsoever since February. That's when he voted against a bill that would require American interrogators (including those in the CIA) to follow the Amry Field Manual. Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow discussed this at the time:

As late as November 2007 McCain argued that torture is a "defining issue" for America and that the Army Field Manual should be standard. So much for that.

McCain has abandoned so many "defining issues" that one wonders if anything is sacred. I seems like the maverick image is nothing more than a convenient facade, cast aside once it outlived its usefulness.


Anonymous said...

"Sentors Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama were absent from the vote."

Andrew said...

What does that have to do McCain's vote? He still voted against requiring interrogators follow the Army Field Manual he previously said should be followed, whether or not Clinton and Obama were there,

And by the way, this was the first week he McCain was present in 2008, and he absent again until the middle of March three everyone was there for the economic stimulus vote.

The fact of the matter is, the only reason McCain showed up was to get the endorsement of the GOP House leadership.

A day earlier they declared their intention to remain neutral.

Then McCain came to Washington and met with them.

Then they endorsed them.

Then he voted to protect the CIA's ability to torture.

Then he left.

Anonymous said...

I certainly have no problem with your disagreement with McCain, but I feel both you and Olbermann and playing a little loosely with the facts regarding his so-called "flip-flop". I can find no reference indicating that he ever felt that the field manual should be applied to anyone other than DOD (military) personnel, and he did take the lead in enabling legislation that does just that, while also proscribing inhumane treatment by ANY agency of the US government:

"Among other things, the DTA contains provisions that (1) require Department of Defense
(DOD) personnel to employ United States Army Field Manual guidelines while interrogating detainees, and (2) prohibit the “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
or punishment of persons under the detention, custody, or control of the United States
Government.” These provisions of the DTA, which were first introduced by Senator
John McCain, have popularly been referred to as the “McCain Amendment.”

Regarding the relevance of Clinton and Obama's absence, none other than the fact that it leaves only one presidential candidate who can legitimately claim that this IS a "defining issue".

Anyway, good discussion :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to beat this to death, and promise last post, but here's a Time story on exactly this issue:


"Despite the claims of some partisans, McCain's decision was not a flip-flop, but rather the continuation of a position he took in 2005 when he first championed a bill to restrict the Bush Administration's ability to mistreat detainees."

Bottom line, don't believe everything Howard Dean tells you :)
But kudos to you for allowing discussion!

Andrew said...

I actually didn't hear the Dean quotes. I wrote this in after reading about McCain's apparent about-face on tax policy. However, regarding his torture stance:

The Time article notes that in 2005 a draft proposal for what would become the The Detainee Treatment Act (introduced by McCain) intended to require that all government agencies follow the Army Field Manual. McCain narrowed the scope of the requirement after meeting with other Senators.

McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers explained that most bills go through a revision process, so it's unfair to hold McCain to the original draft. I don't think McCain narrowed the restriction based on personal reflection, I think he did so because he knew, from those meetings with other Senators, that the broader restriction would not pass. Of course, that's my view, but it is not an outlandish speculation.

Fast forward to the 2007 debate where, in arguing against opponents like Guiliani who is for torture, McCain echoes the opinion that techniques in the Army field manual are effecting, and nothing else is necessary. He goes on to say that "this is what America is all about."

Now we are in 2008, and there is a bill that, as Time points out, is very similar to the McCain's draft proposal of 2005, requiring the all government agencies to follow the Army Field Manual rules that McCain touted in the 2007 debate. Yet he voted against it and supported a Bush veto.

Maybe McCain always thought the military should be held to one standard, but that the CIA should be held to another lesser standard. To be sure, McCain now carefully parses his statements on the subject of torture, meking sure to condemn waterboarding while hedging everything else. Maybe he's always had this double standard on torture.

If so, it means his recent nay vote is not a flip-flop. But it also means he has no right to the moral high ground he claims to stand on.