That John McCain has more moves than Olga Korbut or Kerry Strug. The back flips and front flips and flip-flops of this would-be President would make perfect fodder for Bill O’Reilly’s nightly tirades against all things truly American, except that John McCain is an ultra-conservative Republican and you will never hear O’Reilly indict one of them the way he castigates others. Did you hear the latest? Senator John McCain, one of the strongest supporters of Pres. Bush and the illegal invasion of Iraq has now gone on record as saying that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “will go down as one of the worst Secretaries of Defense in history.”
Pretty tough words from a man who said as recently as last November when Rumsfeld mercifully resigned that he was deserving of our respect and gratitude. So, should we respect Rumsfeld’s “mismanagement” of the Iraq war or should we be grateful for it? Hard to know since it’s almost impossible to keep up with the ever-changing moods of Senator John McCain.
It has been painfully obvious for several years now that McCain’s lust for the Oval Office is so great that he has been willing to play Faust to George W. Bush Mephistopheles. Or does that role go to Karl Rove? Hard to tell for sure, but whoever it is in the Republican Party that has been dangling the carrot of a nomination in 2008 in front of John McCain, you’ve got to give them credit. In less than two years they took a man many saw as the conscience of the GOP and turned him into a drooling lapdog being led around by a very short leash.
During the 2000 Republican primaries George W. Bush’s dirty dogs effectively destroyed McCain’s campaign by engaging in push-polling in South Carolina and suggesting that McCain had an out-of-wedlock black daughter. Well, among South Carolina Republicans the only thing worse than that would be if they said he was the real father of Chelsea Clinton. A man with any integrity at all would have immediately and forever distanced himself from a man like George Bush.
Instead, much like Joe Lieberman-though, unlike Lieberman, for reasons that are crystal clear-John McCain embraced George Bush, both figuratively and literally. (Check out my video for The Internationale to see images of McCain and Bush engaged in a hug that appears to be two seconds away from a kiss). No other Republican of the stature of John McCain has been as fervent a supporter of the Iraq invasion as he has. At every step along the way, McCain has moved in to back up his bestest buddy George W. Bush.
Of course, that’s not the only back flip that McCain has engaged in to show the GOP power brokers the depths to which he is willing to sink into the muck and mire in order to get the Republican nomination in 2008. The Republican Party far more than the Democratic Party has shown a willingness to confer their nomination upon the guy whose turn has come around. Going at least back to Richard Nixon in 1960 the nomination has never been a surprise. With one exception, of course; that of the man who had paid no dues but was still rewarded, George W. Bush. Of course, GOP politics is a different game today. The shift to the right virtually assures that no moderate politician-and today Richard Nixon would fit into that category, believe it or not-can ever win the GOP nomination. John McCain understands perfectly now that mavericks may win the adulation of the press corps, but they don’t win the nomination. In order to re-establish himself as the phony maverick he successfully sold to the media seven years ago, John McCain is all too painfully aware that he must win the approval of the Religious Right. Without them-as a large collection of Congressmen and Senators recently discovered-he is bound to lose.
During the 2000 campaign John McCain referred to the Religious Right supporters of George W. Bush as “agents of intolerance.” He then went on to say of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that they were “corrupting influences on religion and politics.” Is this the same John McCain who recentlyy spoke at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University? Is this same John McCain who criticized the ban on interracial dating at Bob Jones University in 2000, but has said he would not turn down an invitation to speak there this time around? For a guy who sets great store in his reputation as a maverick within his party, John McCain sure is getting chummy with the very same people who accused of destroying it just a few years ago.
Yes, John McCain is right when he declares that the legacy of Donald Rumsfeld is one that will remember him as the most incompetent war leader in the entire history of the United States. But it is a testament to the integrity of John McCain that he waited until Rumsfeld was out of office and unable to do any more damage before finally expressing his “honest” opinion.