If you are anything like me, I always had a lot of respect for John McCain. He could always be counted on to buck the conventional party lines and take positions on issues based on his internal compass – no matter who it would offend. He also would cross party lines in order to craft important legislation. However, that respect died full stop in the mid 00′s.
In the years leading up to the 08 election, I was dismayed to see his transformation from ‘the maverick’ to ‘the ideologue’. Logical and pragmatic positions were replaced by ideological stands. Principal was replaced by pandering. While some politicians might be able to pull it off, ideology did not and does not become McCain.
In recent weeks, we have seen small signs that perhaps the Maverick is still in there some where. McCain spoke loudly about 2 issues that are in direct conflict with the current GOP winds – torture and isolationism.
Below is a recent article where he discusses isolationism:
Former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took aim at his party for what he called its growing movement towards isolationism, chastising the current GOP presidential field for not supporting U.S. military intervention in Libya and calling for speedy troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.
“This is isolationism. There’s always been an isolation strain in the Republican party, that Pat Buchanan wing of our party,” McCain told “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour. “But now it seems to have moved more center stage.”
At the first major Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire last week, several candidates criticized U.S. military involvement in Libya, while on Afghanistan former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney said, “It’s time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can” based on the advice of military commanders.
“I wonder what Ronald Reagan would be saying today?” questioned McCain, saying the isolationism is a stark departure from traditional Republican foreign policy positions. “That is not the Republican party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people for all over the world.” From ABCNews.com.
This is an article where his position on torture is discussed:
Waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques were not a factor in tracking down Osama bin Laden, a leading Republican senator insisted Thursday.
Sen. John McCain, who spent 5½ years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, also rejected the argument that any form of torture is critical to U.S. success in the fight against terrorism.
In an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, the Arizona Republican said former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and others who supported those kind of measures were wrong to claim that waterboarding al-Qaida’s No. 3 leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, provided information that led to bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
“Not only did the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed, it actually produced false and misleading information,” McCain said. He called on Mukasey and others to correct their misstatements.
On Thursday, McCain also penned an opinion piece for The Washington Post on the topic, saying, “I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence but often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering. Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading.” From MSNBC.com.
However, it appears the power of the dark side is strong in this one. Just as we see the return to principled positions, he resorts to fear-mongering about immigration, an almost 180 degree shift from his previous positions.
U.S. Sen. John McCain is blaming illegal immigrants for starting some of the wildfires that have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres in Arizona.
“There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally,” McCain, R-Arizona, said Saturday at a press conference. “The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border.”
The Arizona senator, however, did not say what the evidence is, prompting a swift rebuke from Latino civil rights advocates.
“It’s easier to fan the flames of intolerance, especially in Arizona,” said Randy Parraz, a civil rights advocate who ran unsuccessfully against McCain as a Democratic candidate in 2010.
Parraz called McCain’s remarks “careless and reckless” but not entirely surprising given the political climate in Arizona. The Latino advocate is co-founder of Citizens for a Better Arizona, a group trying the recall the legislator who authored the state’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law.
Parraz said McCain “should know better” than to make such an accusation without presenting any facts.
McCain said that illegal immigrants set such fires either to send signals, keep warm or distract law enforcement agents. But he did not specify which fires allegedly had been started by illegal immigrants, nor did he identify his sources or provide details of the “substantial” evidence he cited.
Firefighters are currently battling five wildfires that have burned a combined 732,427 acres in Arizona, according to InciWeb, an online interagency database that tracks fires, floods and other disasters. The fires are under investigation and suspects have not been named. However, local media outlets have reported anecdotal cases of fires breaking out in areas where illegal immigrants have been known to cross the border.
Parraz said it is particularly distressing that immigrants are being blamed for destructive fires at a time when many are also being targeted given the state’s unemployment, foreclosure and other economic issues.
“People are looking for someone to blame,” he said, claiming it is too easy and convenient to target what he called one of Arizona’s “most vulnerable populations.”
Angelo Falcon, the president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, criticized McCain for what he called “increasingly blatant” political opportunism.
“The degree of irresponsible political pandering by Sen. McCain has no limits,” Falcon said in an email to CNN. “With the lack of evidence, he might as well also blame aliens from outer space for the fires.” CNN.com
It will be interesting to see which McCain will appear the next time he takes a stand.