2024-05-20 12:36 PM

What Happened to John McCain?


John McCain (R-AZ) is defending his U.S. Senate seat against a challenge from ultra-conservative radio host J.D. Hayworth. (Yes, the same Hayworth who was a very large recipient of money and gifts-like sports skyboxes-from the shamed lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to the New York Times)

While voters may find McCain’s name on the ballot, the man is utterly unrecognizable, switching positions daily to mollify the unruly Tea Party crowd. According to today’s Times:

….McCain now finds himself jammed, moving starkly-and often awkwardly-to the right, apparently in an attempt to gain favor among the same voters whom Hayworth, a consistent voice for the far right, could pull toward him like taffy come summer.

McCain now sharply criticizes the bailout bill he voted for, pivoted from his earlier position that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility should be closed, offered only a muted response to the Supreme Court’s decision undoing campaign finance laws and backed down from statements that gays in the military would be OK by him if the military brass were on board.

I never agreed with John McCain’s largely conservative voting record. There once was a time, however, that he had a small independent streak and could be counted on to occasionally buck the party line. Unfortunately, he threw his integrity out the window when he chose Sarah Palin for his running mate.

He knew she was incompetent and not qualified to be President. Yet, he sold out America and placed our national security at risk for a short uptick in the polls following the Republican convention.

Fortunately, after Palin hit New York’s ritzy 5th Avenue clothing stores using the Republican Party’s credit card and CBS News’ Katie Couric revealed that she did not read newspapers, her popularity nosedived.

Choosing Palin was a crass, unforgivable and grossly irresponsible sin of the highest order. The monstrosity that is Sarah was put on full display last weekend when it was revealed that she scribbled notes on her hand, like a first grader, to answer questions at the Tea Party convention.

Even more disturbing, Palin told FOX News that she is now dedicated to boning  up on issues and learning about policy.

“Now that my focus has been enlarged,” Palin said, “I sure as heck better be more astute on these current events, national issues.”

I don’t know about her focus, but it is clear that her ego has been enlarged for quite some time. This quote incontrovertibly proves the depravity of Palin, who accepted the job for Vice President knowing full-well she wasn’t ready.

What kind of reprobate places the health and well-being of her fellow citizens in grave danger so she can elevate her political career? A person of strong moral character  surely would have turned down McCain’s offer and spent the time as Alaska’s governor to study issues.

Interestingly, while Palin was vividly aware that she had no awareness of public policy, she smeared Barack Obama as a “charismatic guy with a teleprompter.”

Back to McCain…the media has always overblown the reality of John McCain’s fleeting independent streak. Still, their were moments when the Arizona Senator fought for what we thought he believed in, such as campaign finance reform.

Even for those like myself who were never fans, it is painful to watch McCain cynically and unconvincingly morph into a Tea Party toady. The Senator’s brand has quickly gone from mythical maverick to mindless miscreant. His willingness to cash in his values and pawn his principles to stay in power proves that he is no longer fit to serve.

Here is what I will never understand.

Before he surrendered his reputation, McCain was a popular figure revered for his military and public service. Even political opponents admired how he had sacrificed for his country. On the personal sphere, his wife Cindy is incredibly wealthy and he could have stepped down from his seat and sailed off with her into the sunset to enjoy life.

Instead, in political desperation he squandered his large stockpile of admiration. The one-time anti-politician has now come to personify the unscrupulous and unprincipled amoral insider McCain used to despise.

McCain’s presidential campaign was premised on him and Palin representing the “Real America” that lived beyond the Beltway. How ironic that McCain will now do whatever it takes – including the destruction of his reputation – to avoid the Real America and remain in Washington.

If one wants to know where John McCain stands on any given issue today, just look at Tea Party polling numbers. If there is one word to describe him, it is “predictable.” This would surely have upset the old John McCain, but he no longer exists.






Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”





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