By Mario Carter
Elm Staff Columnist
John McCain has officially reached the height of his political career. In an interview with Newsweek, the senior senator from Arizona said, “I never considered myself a maverick… I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities.”
This is, of course, so absurd and such a demonstrable lie that there is no need for me to even recount the millions of times that he has referred to himself as a “maverick,” a title that he never deserved in the first place.
But why, after years of clubbing us over the head with the word maverick and doing everything short of wearing a shirt with the word emblazoned across his chest, has he decided to not refer to himself as such? Well, now he’s facing a re-election, a primary challenge of which he is in severe danger of losing.
Since former fifth district congressman J.D. Hayworth has announced that would be challenging McCain for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, McCain has been in an all-out campaign to prove that he’s the most conservative politician since Arizona’s patron saint Barry Goldwater. He’s been touting his credentials, which include voting against President Barack Obama’s legislative proposals and, of course, telling outright lies about their content, such as suggesting that the senate healthcare bill used taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.
McCain told his home state newspaper, the Arizona Republic, that he was deceived into voting for the Wall Street bailout because he was under the assumption that it would be used to support those who had been affected in the housing crisis, when in actuality it was he who requested President George Bush hold an emergency summit after temporarily suspending his campaign.
Also, just to ensure that Republicans do not get the impression that he believes gays should have a right to openly serve in the military despite past claims of support, he along with his wife and daughter lend their name to the number H8 campaign. He chose to put on a performance by aggressively interrogating Robert Gates during a hearing on ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But his “I am the true conservative,” routine has turned him from a widely perceived respectable statesman to a pathetic and desperate man willing to mortgage his last bit of self respect.
But the moment that perfectly captured the willingness McCain has to do anything and everything to win, was when his campaign invited Sarah Palin to endorse his re-election. As Palin stood at the lectern, revving up the crowd, giving McCain backhanded compliments, who stood there looking like someone who had lost everything. And he had. McCain, who for years defined himself as someone who was willing to take on the political establishment and not be bound by what others demanded, was now being forced to take positions that he did not agree with and court endorsements of people he did not like.
But of course, this is certainly not the first time that we have seen McCain show political cowardice. When senator McCain was running in the 2000 Republican South Carolina Primary, he said of the Confederate flag that, “it’s a symbol of racism and slavery.” However just three days later, as he could feel the tremors of the Sons and Daughters of Dixie storming to the polling center to vote against him en masse for saying what every intelligent person in the country knows to be true, he “corrected” himself by saying, “Personally, I see the flag as a symbol of heritage.” Of course, he then admitted that it was an act of cowardice, but his cowardly acts did not stop with the Confederate flag.
During his second presidential run, he consistently flip-flopped on some of his most core issues. After co-authoring the immigration bill with the late senator Ted Kennedy, he later said that if that same bill were to come across his desk, he would veto it. As one of two Senate Republicans who voted against the Bush tax cuts, he rightly decried them as benefiting only the wealthy; however, he then “amended” his position and said that he would implement them if he were elected. Without a shadow of a doubt, his most conscience-stricken act was when he had an amendment removed from a defense authorization bill that would have banned torture after spending so many years condemning its savagery. The Vietcong could not have possibly inflicted as much misery as the kind that he has put himself through.
Whether McCain is successful or not, is now irrelevant. Any ounce of character that he may have had is now gone. Personally, I would like to see J.D. Hayworth win the Republican nomination. I do not have the slightest respect for Hayworth as an individual or for his political views. He is a right wing extremist who was already defeated for re-election in 2006 in a fairly conservative district because the voters realized that his ideology bordered on a level of insanity. If he failed to win re-election in the fifth district, I can only assume that this fanatic would once again lose on an even larger scale.
But whoever wins, McCain will always live with the knowledge that he sunk to the bottom of the barrel and left a legacy of succumbing to gutlessness and political expediency.