The Real McCain

Andrew Sullivan dishes on the Republican Candidate’s true nature:

Mickey, of course, is obsessed with immigration and believes that McCain would actually support a Bush-style immigration law were he to win next week. Really? Really? You see: what I’ve learned from watching McCain these past two months is that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do if it could get him a small bump in a news cycle, polarize the electorate, and appeal to a rabid base that is now his only source of power.

In my view, McCain would clearly be prepared to veto such a bill if it helped bring his party base behind him. He would also have a veep who is running from Day One to succeed him and eager to play the most revanchist elements in her base against her boss.


As for McCain, we have seen how he deals with what were once his principles. Balancing the budget? He caved to Bush’s tax cuts and proposes to increase the deficit more than a liberal Democrat in his first term. Torture? He agreed to the 2006 Military Commissions Act, thereby legalizing the very torture techniques that were once used against him. Climate change? He picked a veep who doesn’t believe it’s man-made. When people talk about this man’s honor, they need to grapple with these facts. If McCain is prepared to authorize the torture of other human beings, to do to others what was once done to him in order to help Karl Rove’s 2006 election strategy, there is nothing deep down inside him but a desire for power, no line he won’t cross.

This is the real reason I could never vote for McCain based on his “pro-life” stance, despite the Conservative assertion that Christians should. I would find it very difficult to elect someone who has as voted so clearly in favour of abortion without restriction as Obama has. But I would find it even harder to vote for someone whose stance on abortion is based purely on political aspirations.

Palin I trust when it comes to the pro-life issue. But of course, she’s proven that she’s willing to go even further than McCain regarding political backstabs. Still, considering my assertion that a foetus is a human being, I also believe that thousands of deaths a week would constitute a huge crime toll. If it weren’t for the fact that I believe laws aren’t sufficient to stop abortion from occurring, I would be a lot more conflicted over a battle between Palin and Obama. At least it’s relatively certain she would attempt something to reduce the abortion count.

As it is, McCain, not Palin, is the one who concerns me when it comes to an issue which is a lot more than political, if one accepts the conservative Christian perspective. If we’re really worried about millions of lives being lost, why do so many Christians back someone who has only made this a key issue relatively recently, once it became clear that he needed to win key votes back in the Evangelical base?

An Obama-Biden ticket is superior in many ways to the Republican pair. Conservatives would attempt to make this into a one-issue vote. But if McCain can’t be relied upon for anything else, I’m not convinced we should be making abortion the key talking point… because that’s all it is: Talk.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bridgett
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 11:26:01

    From the National Catholic Reporter:
    Still, to those Catholics who believe that rhetorical support for overturning Roe v. Wade is essential, that the Iranian and North Korean threats should be addressed without negotiation, that the war in Iraq must result in an unambiguous U.S. victory, and that tax cuts to those at the top 1 percent of the nation’s income strata will promote the common good, a vote for John McCain is not only acceptable. It is a matter of individual conscience. 10/24/08

    It is “rhetorical support.” He knows he has to say it to get those votes. Evangelicals and conservative Catholics have been fooled before. One friend: “I voted for Bush the first time until I realized there was nothing pro-life about him.” A neighbor who is still benighted: “I voted for Bush the second time only in the hopes that he would appoint a supreme court justice who would end Roe v. Wade.” Well, it hasn’t happened yet, and she’s upset at several other supreme court decisions that have come out of the more conservative court.

    The overturning of Roe v. Wade is not the magic bullet, either. My aunt had an abortion in 1972, safely in the confines of her doctor’s office. Don’t ask, don’t tell. My pastor said the other night before a meeting started: “If abortion was such an easy problem to solve, don’t you think the republicans would have solved it over the past 35 years?” What will help end/limit abortion more than overturning RvW is good education and access to birth control. Which often times are completely neglected by the party that swears it will end abortion.


  2. Stephen
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 18:12:23

    You appear to be mistaken about McCain’s pro-life convictions. According to the National Right to Life Committee and NARAL Pro-Choice America, McCain has consistently voted for pro-life positions:

    “He voted against family planning, he voted against the freedom of access to clinic entrances — that was about violence against women in clinics,” [Nancy] Keenan [President of NARAL Pro-Choice America] says, adding, “He voted against funding for teen pregnancy-prevention programs, and making sure that abstinence only was medically accurate. This is very, very extreme.”

    Your confusion is understandable, because McCain has flip-flopped, or at least muted his stance on a series of issues — global warming, immigration, the Bush tax cuts, campaign finance reform, even (to some extent) torture — in order to pander to the Republican base.

    In fact, we may legitimately wonder what McCain actually believes on these topics. His “maverick” era was largely motivated by anger at Republicans for choosing George Bush over McCain for leadership of the party in 2000. So did he really believe those “maverick” positions, or did he just want to poke a finger in the Republican eye?

    Now it’s more expedient to suck up to Republicans: but how do we know which is the real John McCain?

    In any event, on abortion his position seems to be consistently pro-life — arguably even extreme.


  3. nebcanuck
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 00:35:41

    I should clarify, I wasn’t suggesting he was pro-life only for the sake of this election, and that there was evidence that he was pro-choice before or anything. I wasn’t sure how his voting record went re. abortion, but I knew he was certainly pro-life.

    The part where there may have been the most confusion over this was when I said he only made abortion a big issue for the sake of this election. And I still believe that. I don’t recall any mention of abortion for the first half of this run. Perhaps it was because he was running against other Republicans for the leadership, but even after it was basically guaranteed that he would win, he didn’t set the stage against Obama by presenting the pro-life issue front and centre. Instead, he focused on his own “maverick” reputation, and allowed Obama and Clinton to duke it out.

    Honestly, I heard a ton in evangelical media about abortion being something critical in the election long before McCain even brought up the issue. I feel like it was a cause and effect relationship. The evangelical vote was somewhat divided, until McCain heard that they wanted a pro-life candidate, and then suddenly that was issue number one on his agenda for a good stretch. To me, that’s taking a non-political situation and using it for your own ambitions.


  4. juggling mother
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 09:24:04

    Is abortion REALLY the MOST important issue in this election?

    Or any election TBH. the only time we have any major interest in the topic here is when there’s a specific vote on the abortion law. It is absolutley NOT a headline issue for ANY party. Or any person that I am aware of.

    Surely things such as home & foriegn policy, social policy, finances, education and employment issues are more relevant to the people as a whole?


  5. Bridgett
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 21:33:15

    JM, it isn’t my most important issue. It is my neighbor’s, and I think, reading her blog today, my mother’s. And it is the most important if you are a CAtholic bishop who was appointed in the 80s because of your extreme views on the topic.

    I WISH it didn’t reign so supremely. I don’t get us (USA) sometimes.


  6. juggling mother
    Nov 02, 2008 @ 06:18:01

    Actually, having had a think about it, it is not even a party issue. no party here has any abortion policy in its manifesto, nor has it ever been raised in an electioneering in my lifetime. The two times it has come up for a vote in my memory (both times the legislation remaining the same) it was a “free” vote- meaning that each individual voted as they wished with no partyline being specified or imposed.

    I can’t understand how a personal lifestyle choice* for at the max 50% of the population is a central political issue!

    * i say it is a personal lifestyle choice because in the VAST majority of cases it is, both a choice whether to have one or not, and indeed, a choice whether to need one in the first place!


  7. Stephen
    Nov 02, 2008 @ 07:30:44

    I’ll just pop in to point out that Juggling Mother is English, for those who don’t know that. She’s describing the political situation in England.

    Nice little international dialogue we’ve got going here. O, the marvels of the blogosphere!


  8. nebcanuck
    Nov 02, 2008 @ 10:23:30

    I’m actually planning on doing a post on the abortion issue more fully soon enough. But I wanted to respond to a couple of the comments.

    What will help end/limit abortion more than overturning RvW is good education and access to birth control. Which often times are completely neglected by the party that swears it will end abortion.

    Absolutely how I feel too, which is why even if I could believe McCain 100%, I wouldn’t be certain I’d vote for him (if of course, I had any vote in the American election). Many conservative Christians argue that “safe, legal, and rare” isn’t enough, and I agree with them. Zero abortions would be the absolute best (which I will discuss later). But I think a lot of Christians and Conservatives are fooling themselves if they think that simply putting out a law is going to change whether abortions happen or not. It won’t. When people are desperate, and feel that the only solution is an abortion, they’ll go the illegal route, and put themselves at risk in a lot of ways. Conservatives tend to think people have more “sense” than that and will stop, but history has proven otherwise.

    Is abortion REALLY the MOST important issue in this election?

    Simply put, from a Christian perspective, I don’t see how it can’t be basically the single most important social issue going. If I said to you that the problem with the Chinese government is that they kill thousands of people a year, I think most people would agree. If I told you that in some pre-modern society, everyone had the right to kill their enemies whenever they wished, most people would cringe and agree that modern society is much better. Really, if you believe that abortion is the voluntary termination of human life, 50 million legal abortions since Roe vs. Wade is a phenomenal tragedy. Period. The biggest we see today. More than hunger, economic woes, or laws combating murder.

    However, there is still the thought underlying this that the most effective way to combat abortion, at this point in time at least, is clearly to combat other social issues. Helping women have the ability to pay for their child and themselves is incredibly important. Providing better education so that people are having safer sex is important. I would also say that moral education, where you teach a man to stick around if he gets a woman pregnant, is an of-overlooked but very important step. Social accountability, in its right use, would be an incredible boon to the pro-life movement.

    But insofar as the question goes, yes, it should be social issue number one, since it’s the one with the greatest death toll attached.

    Actually, having had a think about it, it is not even a party issue. no party here has any abortion policy in its manifesto, nor has it ever been raised in an electioneering in my lifetime.

    I also agree with that. Which goes back to McCain’s position. It seems to me that he’s picking up the banner of pro-lifeism only because it’ll win him votes in an election he is losing. Although I have to say, if there’s any party which has an abortion policy in its manifesto, it’s the Republicans, who, at least in my memory, have always stood for some sort of moral conservatism in this regards. In Canada, there’s no such party, and though many friends maintain that a vote for the Conservatives is a vote against abortion, the opposite is true: Harper has stated that he sides with neither extreme on the issue.


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