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What Does John McCain Stand For?

Friday, 23 May 2008 08:55 AM

By John LeBoutillier

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Three months after (somehow) winning the GOP nomination for president, Sen. John McCain has so far failed to put any flesh on his almost-bare political bones. In other words, McCain is an empty shell — or, as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, “There is no there there.”

Here is a good test: take any successful politician and you can sum up their message or legacy in one easy sentence. For example:

  • Ronald Reagan: won the Cold War and limited the growth of government

  • Abraham Lincoln: ended slavery and saved the nation

  • FDR: kept the country hopeful through the Great Depression and fought Hitler and Tojo

    Or among current politicians:

  • Ted Kennedy: big government liberalism is the solution to everything

  • Ron Paul: Libertarian conservatism is the only philosophy that works over the long haul;

    Now, take John McCain and try to come up with his one-sentence message.

    Is it:

  • John McCain: political reformer, fiscal conservative who took on run-away, out-of-control big spending GOP and who challenged the dominance of the Christian conservatives

    Or is it:

  • John McCain: railed against the inherent corruption in D.C. but is, at the same time, surrounded by inside-the-beltway lobbyists, used clout to help Arizona political contributors

    Or is it:

  • John McCain: voted against Bush tax cuts, then voted to make them permanent; attacked concept of a withdrawal date from Iraq and then proposed his own 2013 withdrawal date; created Gang of 14 and then said he’d nominate ‘constructionist judges.’

    Or is it:

  • John McCain: passionate advocate of amnesty for illegal aliens who then swore he would oppose amnesty for illegal aliens

    The contradiction of the above is one of McCain’s many problems: there is no consistent, constant John McCain.

    He has tried to be all things to all people. And thus he inspires no positive emotion. If he is to win in the fall, it will be because his campaign demonizes the Democratic nominee and scares the voters into voting against that nominee. (No wonder the GOP wants to run against Obama. There is a vast, unmined trove of material to use to paint Obama so far out of the mainstream as to make his election almost impossible.)

    But how many people will be voting for McCain?

    And if he should win, how can a man who basically stands for nothing, and who heads a party with which he disagrees on almost everything from taxes to amnesty to global warming, run the federal government with an overwhelming Democrat House and Senate?

    All of this makes McCain such a strange anomaly. No one knows him. What would he do? What does he really believe?

    My guesses: McCain's knowledge of business and economics is zip. His knowledge of foreign policy and history are equally weak. He has terrible candidate skills. His speaking ability earns a D-minus; he cannot rouse an audience and is not good on TV, either.

    His attempts to make light of his age are backfiring. Unlike Reagan who defused the age issue, McCain actually seems to be aging right in front of our eyes.

    His recent removal of lobbyists from his campaign does not and cannot alter the fact that he hired them in the first place. He chose these people and now that he sees it may hurt him he is canning them.

    The same with Rev. Hagee’s endorsement brouhaha. McCain accepted the endorsement months ago and refused to budge until the heat grew to an unbearable degree. So now he has ‘rejected’ Hagee’s endorsement. How can that be — any more than Obama trying to separate himself from the Rev. Wright.

    One bright spot: McCain is running against an equally empty suit — Obama — with all sorts of political problems.

    November is a long, long way off.

    I will guarantee one thing: There will be a big surprise before too long which will upset this race for the White House.

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