Wednesday, February 20, 2008

John McCain: Radical Lefty??

The Republican party has moved so far to the right of center, they're in serious danger of falling off the face of the Earth. No other example illustrates this fact better than the radical right's reaction this week to what can only be called the inevitable nomination of Senator John McCain of Arizona. To hear people like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingram, Michael Wiener and Ann Coulter put it, you would think that McCain's political mentor was Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez. In fact, it was the late Barry Goldwater, the father of the modern conservative movement and a man who was known in his day as, Mr. Conservative.
The fact of the matter is, were Barry Goldwater to seek the GOP nomination today, it's more than probable that he would not be able to win a single primary. Looking back on his 1964 presidential campaign against incumbent, Lyndon Baines Johnson, you would think that today he would be a patron saint of the right wing: he was dead set against the Civil Rights Act signed into law that year and had equal trepidations about the proposed Voting Rights Act which came about in 1965. The guy was also a decided, stone-cold hawk. It is believed by some historians that the Gulf of Tonkein incident that summer which was the spark that ignited the American escalation in Vietnam, was actually manufactured by Johnson in order to keep Goldwater from being able to accuse the president of being "soft on Communism" during the upcoming campaign, a favorite accusation among Republicans of that bygone era. Today they accuse their opponents of being soft on terrorism - New day. Different ism.
Truth be told, Senator Goldwater who, like McCain, represented the state of Arizona, was never comfortable with the extremist direction his party seemed to be taking. At the end of his life, he was in collaboration with John Dean on a book that was to be a condemnation of the kooks, criminals and fools who, twenty-eight years ago next January 20, succeeded in hijacking the party of Abraham Lincoln. Dean finally completed the book two years ago. The finished product, Conservatives Without Conscience, is required reading - or hearing (I listened the audio-book version. Hey! I can't be expected to read everything! Cut me some slack, Jack!)
So what the hell is their problem with McCain of all people? To portray him as a liberal doesn't pass the giggle test - not by a long shot. Although John McCain is not the typical, half-witted extremist, so predominant in the modern GOP, he is - and has always been - decidedly right-of-center. The fact that the bloviating gas bags who serve as the media spokespersons for the Republican party are trying to define him as the modern-day Norman Thomas is positively surreal.
The right's main problem with McCain goes back to the campaign of 2000. If you'll remember, it was during that period that he bravely stood up to the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and condemned them as "agents of intolerance". That was when Karl Rove's goon squad destroyed McCain's candidacy in South Carolina with a "phone poll" which asked the musical question, "How would you feel if you found out that Senator McCain has an out-of-wedlock child with a Black prostitute?" This was a cynical reference to the beautiful little dark-skinned girl, visible in many news photographs, whom John and Cindy McCain adopted a number of years before from one of Mother Theresa's orphanages. To no one's surprise, the Republican voters of that state - just about the stupidest people this side of the Milky Way - swallowed it whole. The Bush operation in 2000 was the most despicable in American electoral history.
The reaction of the far right wing to the candidacy of John McCain is instructive if one is trying to understand what has happened to the party they've had a total grip on since 1980. Some of them are threatening to sabotage the McCain Campaign in various ways, as Ann Coulter did when she said she was seriously thinking of campaigning for Hillary Clinton. They remind me of unstable, none-too-bright children, throwing a tantrum because the toy they got for Christmas wasn't exactly like the one shown in the television commercial. Laura Ingram's rhetorical question to the senator, "Just what have you done for us [conservatives] lately?" was the ultimate in arrogance. A Representative is not supposed to serve only one fractured section of his or her constituency - they represent all of the people. This is something that the conservatives (let us call them by their real name, "the plutocracy") have never been able to figure out. That is why they will very soon be consigned to history's trash bin. The times, they are a'changin', baby!
Watching the agents of the "Reagan Revolution" implode before my very eyes is truly a great joy! The American people are finally waking up to the unavoidable reality that the deregulation of American society - put in place by the Gipper nearly three decades ago, passively enabled under Bill (and Hillary) Clinton, and given massive doses of steroids under Bush 43 - has done real and long-lasting harm to our beloved republic. It will take generations to undo all of the damage that has been done by these foolish and unenlightened people. There is much healing that needs to be done. As the ancient Chinese proverb says:
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."
We need to take that first step on November 4.
I have a real sympathy for John McCain. For all of his faults (and there are too many to even mention in this short piece), he at least seems to be a basically decent man. And it can not be denied that he did, at times, go against the extremist doctrine of the modern day Republican party. Should he miraculously be elected in November (and if Hillary Clinton is nominated, he will be - COUNT ON IT), we can only hope that the maverick spirit of Theodore Roosevelt, his political hero, will manifest itself. It's a slender hope but it is all we have.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
THIS JUST IN (2/21/08):
It is reported in this morning's New York Times that some members of John McCain's staff were "convinced" that he was having an improper relationship with a lobbyist, one Vicki Iseman, and that he was voting on certain bills and writing letters to the FCC that benefited the company she represented.
This is kind of weird, being put in the position of defending a Republican candidate for the presidency. But it has to be stated for the record that there is something about this story doesn't sit right. It is based on insinuation and no one, thus far, has been willing to go on the record. My suspicion is that this is a Rovian-like scheme concocted by McCain's detractors on the uber right to derail his candidacy. Does the fact that it is being reported by the Times give the story any legitimacy? Two words: Judith Miller. 'Nuff said? Eventually, the big headline behind this story will not be the allegations themselves, but how it was reported.
Stay tuned.


At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, you are in fine form with a very interesting and educational piece.
I am just old enough to remember Barry Goldwater's campaign and how, among my second grade classmates we were asking each other "Who are you for?" It's quite amazing how political little kids were back then. Almost everyone in my class was for Johnson and I decided I would be for Goldwater just to be different. But then I saw some other kid get picked on mercilessly for supporting him and I kept my mouth shut. So much for free and open discussion among second graders. Hopefully most of us have come a long way since second grade.
Peace and love,
fearless flower

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Greg Lenz said...

I remember Barry Goldwater. Dang... Tom, what a great piece. Good Read.

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet again I disagree..."he is basically a decent man..."
NO! McInsane IS NOT!
I heard him state that his record for the past 24 years is open and above reproach.
Do the math, 1987, Keating (Savings and loan)...ummm, was not Johnny's hand in the cookie jar?
The Times story is relevant in that his workers were concerned about the appearance of the relationship with the lobbyist.
My best guess is that the only appearance McInsane is concerned with is his heroic POW persona.
Seems that the "Straight Talk Express" has had a wheel thrown off and has now become the "Bullshit Express".
If Johnny Jowls becomes the president, expect yet another smirking chimp, but this time on steroids.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

You make some very good points, W. The piece was not meant to imply that John McCain is above reproach - certainly not. But you've got to admit, of all the GOP representitives in the House and Senate, he is about as good as it gets. We're he a Democrat, he would rank at the bottom of the barrel. As a Republican, he ranks near the top. That's probably as good an example as I can come up with as to the dreadful condidition of that party.

Tom Degan

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps he's the best ot the dregs.
The party he's the hope of is indeed in trouble.
Over at Ballon Juice, the name-the-scandal contest seems to have come up with a winner....
"The Stray Cock Express"


At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read your comment over at Alternet regarding Bill O'Riley.
I couldn't agree more.
Well done!

At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Risa said...

You write very well.

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Thank you, Risa.

I see you're really exploring the archives!

All the best,

Tom Degan


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