A little over eight years ago, I had just graduated from the Basic Training and tech school of the United States military. I arrived at my first base, Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California, around the time the primaries for the 2000 election were kicking into high gear. At the time, I remember not being too thrilled with Al Gore being the Democratic nominee. Looking to the Republicans, I wanted no part of ‘George Junior’ still remembering the total let down of his dad’s time in office. Then there was easily the best candidate for either party, John McCain. Senator McCain impressed me for many reasons. First, he was a former Navy pilot and POW survivor. You have to have character to do either of those things, let alone both. As a Republican senator, he always seemed willing to go against the party line, work with Democrats and generally do what he felt was right versus what other politicians told him to do. He ruffled the feathers of the staunch conservatives who seemed more concerned with defeating liberals and democrats than actually accomplishing anything.
Senator McCain seemed less styled, formulaic, and politically correct. He was known for speaking frankly and saying non-politically correct things. This made me feel that he would be a straight shooter not afraid to say and do what needed to be done, as opposed to a soft move which accomplishes nothing, which has become normal in Washington.
Unfortunately, as this year’s Presidential Election comes closer, John McCain is nowhere to be found. Instead, we are left with someone who looks like Senator McCain but no longer acts or sounds like him. Gone is the individual spirit and man who refused to be bound by a party line. It seems the thrashing Senator McCain took in the 2000 Primary at the hands of President Bush forever changed him as a politician and a man.
At the time, a smear campaign was launched against Senator McCain, including rumors that his adopted child was actually his illegitimate child fathered with another woman out of wedlock. Of course there were no ties to President Bush’s campaign but everyone knew it was perpetrated by Bush supporters in order to secure the nomination from their primary opponent in the race. The subversive efforts worked according to anonymous phone surveys, with the primaries swinging many voters to then Governor Bush.
The campaign even up to that point was pretty nasty, and no one thought the two politicians admired each other. That is why it seems so odd to see Senator McCain and President Bush spending time together, complimenting each other and essentially vowing to work together to win Senator McCain the Presidency.
McCain has gone out of his way to agree with many of President Bush’s policies despite previously being one of his loudest Republican detractors. McCain has swapped many of his stances on important issues to better fall in line with current conservative Republican stated positions. He has even made many speaking gaffes when speaking about some of his most hotly-contested ideas and policies.
First he repeatedly said Al-Qaeda instead of Shiite when discussing Iran’s’ involvement supporting groups in Iraq. This lead many to think maybe McCain would continue the President’s push towards conflict with the other troublesome nations in the Middle East. He has already expressed solidarity with Bush on his plan for Iraq. McCain expressed no discomfort over the Bearn Sterns bail-out by the Federal Reserve, but expressed contempt for the idea of the government helping average citizens caught in the Sub Prime loan fallout and facing foreclosure. McCain stated, “It is not the duty of government to bail-out and reward those who act irresponsibly,” which sounds strange considering Bear Sterns was bailed out because it acted irresponsibly.
After eight years, it seems McCain has worked to drop his previous status as a rogue element of the Republican Party in order to prove to Republicans that he has fallen in-line with the party’s ideals. He has even sought to get the religious conservatives on his side. One of the major endorsements McCain has sought and received comes from Pastor John Hagee, famous for saying “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans” and calling the Catholic Church “the great whore” and a “false cult system.” Again this seems odd considering that just eight years ago McCain denounced Bush for seeking these same endorsements. Today he has changed his tune, seeking to follow President Bush’s path to power.
Ted Trevorrow is a third-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at ET666499@wcupa.edu.