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Voting For The Man Or The Myth?
John McCain's awfully popular, but why? A few weeks ago, LA Times' assistant editorial page editor Matt Welch yanked off all the mythology and looked underneath. Here's what he found:

Sifting through McCain's four bestselling books and nearly three decades of work on Capitol Hill, a distinct approach toward governance begins to emerge. And it's one that the electorate ought to be particularly worried about right now. McCain, it turns out, wants to restore your faith in the U.S. government by any means necessary, even if that requires thousands of more military deaths, national service for civilians and federal micromanaging of innumerable private transactions. He'll kick down the doors of boardroom and bedroom, mixing Democrats' nanny-state regulations with the GOP's red-meat paternalism in a dangerous brew of government activism. And he's trying to accomplish this, in part, for reasons of self-realization.

The first clue to McCain's philosophy lies in two seemingly irrelevant items of gossip: His father was a drunk, and his second wife battled addiction to pain pills. Neither would be worth mentioning except for the fact that McCain's books and speeches are shot through with the language and sentiment of 12-step recovery, especially Steps 1 (admitting the problem) and 2 (investing faith in a "Power greater than ourselves").

Like many alcoholics who haven't quite made it to Step 6 (becoming "entirely ready" to have these defects removed), McCain is disarmingly talented at admitting his narcissistic flaws. In his 2002 book "Worth the Fighting For," the senator is constantly confessing his problems of "selfishness," "immaturity," "ambition" and especially "temper," though he also makes clear that his outbreaks of anger can be justifiable and even laudable when channeled into "a cause greater than self-interest."

"A rebel without a cause is just a punk," he explains. "Whatever you're called — rebel, unorthodox, nonconformist, radical — it's all self-indulgence without a good cause to give your life meaning."

What is this higher power that ennobles McCain's crankiness? Just as it is for many soldiers, it's the belief that Americans "were meant to transform history" and that sublimating the individual in the service of that "common national cause" is the wellspring of honor and purpose. (But unlike most soldiers, McCain has been in a position to prod and even compel civilians to join his cause.)

Read the whole piece at the link above. Some very compelling points not to go for McCain. Right now, it's a little premature, I know, but my favorite candidate is Rocky Anderson. Perhaps after he gets a Welch job, I'll feel differently.

Posted by aalkon at December 15, 2006 11:59 AM

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Comments

Also, McCain is staunchly anti-abortion and pledged to make that a litmus test for Supreme Court justices.

Still willing to run naked to the polls to vote for him?

Posted by: LYT at December 15, 2006 2:39 AM

Also, McCain favors legislation that would make individual bloggers and commercial websites to report any unlawful internet content to various law enforcement agencies. What would be considered unlawful content? Anything that is considered sexual, illegal images and inapprorpriate online videos. Fines ranging up to $300,000.00

Here is the article:
http://news.com.com/Senator+Illegal+images+must+be+reported/2100-1028_3-6142332.html?tag=sas.email

Posted by: Joe at December 15, 2006 5:55 AM

He's absolutely idiotic on that. Also on the idea that sex offenders would register their email address. Their email address? Like it's so hard to get 50 more on Yahoo? Plus, how do they monitor this? Idiot.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 15, 2006 6:37 AM

McCain latches onto the worst of both sides and then paints himself as a centrist. He's 100% pure opportunist. My guess is he was betting that the Bush administration would reject his call for more troops, and then he could have used the Iraq fiasco as a campaign strategy: "If they had just listened to me, we could have won this war!"

Posted by: deja pseu at December 15, 2006 7:17 AM

God, I miss Ayn Rand.

Posted by: Brian at December 15, 2006 8:09 AM

Remember the Eagleton affair?

As much as I respect and admire McCain, in the back of my mind I think about what he must have been subjected to as a POW. Should anyone who has been tortured by the “enemy” be asked (or trusted) to make rational, possibly world changing decisions involving the “enemy”?

Posted by: Roger at December 15, 2006 8:56 AM

I agree he is a pure opportunist. In the 1980s, he was one of the few GOP members of the Keating Five scandal. Since 1995, he was the chairman of the Senate committee that handled the aviation industry regulations. McCain would recieve millions of dollars in kickbacks from the airline companies and then in 2000 he found religion in campaign finance reform with Senator Feingold.

McCain's strategy for policing the internet is an olive branch to the religious right. He neeeds them to win the Republican primary for 2008. Memories of the 2000 election still haunt him. Karl Rove organized an effective whisper campaign to spread rumors about McCain's past among the evangelicals during the GOP primaries in the Southern states. Fathering an illegitimate black child. (she is actually Indian and was adopted from Mother Theresa's mission) His infamous quick temper and crashing two fighter jets under the catagory of reckless flying before he was shot down in North Vietnam. Signing the war crimes confession during his stay at the Hanoi Hilton. There is a statue of McCain in North Vietnam where he was shot down with hands up surrendering to the N.V.A. During McCain's campaign stops, Bushies would be in the crowd and start raising their hands up and chant: "hands up McCain!" Hoping that he would have a public meltdown in front of the cameras. He was burned once and it won't happen again in 08.

I agree Amy, it would be technically impossible to police the internet. My seven years in DC has taught me that it will not stop them from trying. My guess would be if the law was passed it would resemble the DEA/BATF. The recruitment of local law enforcement as the federlized Sex Cops. The hysterical fear of internet predators under every rock. Email eaves droppping technology. Internet 'analysts' similar to Drug Policy analysts of the DEA. Their job will be to pour through internet records. Compliant internet companies who do not want the scorn of the federal government. Beltway bloggers who will blindly champion the law for access priveleges and to eliminate their blog competitors. The implicit vagueness of unlawful images will be rife for legal abuse by energetic public crusader types. A few deserved public prosecutions of child predators will hide the widespread governmental intrustion and abuse of average citizens falsely accused as persons of interest.

Remember, McCain is doing this for the children of America. All he has to do is schedule a future press conference and declare a "War on Internet Predators." Now does this sound familar? How many government based initiatives issued as 'wars' been successful? The real scary picture will be the broad range support from the christian right to Oprah for the bill.

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis


Posted by: Joe at December 15, 2006 9:34 AM

I agree he is a pure opportunist. In the 1980s, he was one of the few GOP members of the Keating Five scandal. Since 1995, he was the chairman of the Senate committee that handled the aviation industry regulations. McCain would recieve millions of dollars in kickbacks from the airline companies and then in 2000 he found religion in campaign finance reform with Senator Feingold.

McCain's strategy for policing the internet is an olive branch to the religious right. He neeeds them to win the Republican primary for 2008. Memories of the 2000 election still haunt him. Karl Rove organized an effective whisper campaign to spread rumors about McCain's past among the evangelicals during the GOP primaries in the Southern states. Fathering an illegitimate black child. (she is actually Indian and was adopted from Mother Theresa's mission) His infamous quick temper and crashing two fighter jets under the catagory of reckless flying before he was shot down in North Vietnam. Signing the war crimes confession during his stay at the Hanoi Hilton. There is a statue of McCain in North Vietnam where he was shot down with hands up surrendering to the N.V.A. During McCain's campaign stops, Bushies would be in the crowd and start raising their hands up and chant: "hands up McCain!" Hoping that he would have a public meltdown in front of the cameras. He was burned once and it won't happen again in 08.

I agree Amy, it would be technically impossible to police the internet. My seven years in DC has taught me that it will not stop them from trying. My guess would be if the law was passed it would resemble the DEA/BATF. The recruitment of local law enforcement as the federlized Sex Cops. The hysterical fear of internet predators under every rock. Email eaves droppping technology. Internet 'analysts' similar to Drug Policy analysts of the DEA. Their job will be to pour through internet records. Compliant internet companies who do not want the scorn of the federal government. Beltway bloggers who will blindly champion the law for access priveleges and to eliminate their blog competitors. The implicit vagueness of unlawful images will be rife for legal abuse by energetic public crusader types. A few deserved public prosecutions of child predators will hide the widespread governmental intrustion and abuse of average citizens falsely accused as persons of interest.

Remember, McCain is doing this for the children of America. All he has to do is schedule a future press conference and declare a "War on Internet Predators." Now does this sound familar? How many government based initiatives issued as 'wars' been successful? The real scary picture will be the broad range support from the christian right to Oprah for the bill.

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis


Posted by: Joe at December 15, 2006 9:34 AM

Yeah, I worked on the McCain 2000 campaign, but after six years of Straight Talk Express junk mail the guy's on my shit list. And I'm not sure I liked the tone of that "...libertarian, vegitarian" crack he kept carting around neither.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at December 15, 2006 10:14 AM

Some positive attributes of John McCain as Presidential candidate...

> He has the most chance of being a unifier of the parties in the House and Senate.

> He'll be hugely respected by our armed forces and will give them the support they deserve.

> He will push hard for a deficit reduction.

Not the ideal candidate to be sure, but those are huge points to consider.

Posted by: Hasan at December 15, 2006 10:25 AM

Oh, I forgot. Ayn Rand sucks:p

Posted by: Hasan at December 15, 2006 10:26 AM

> a unifier of the parties in the House and Senate.

How is this good?

Polarity is underrated.

Posted by: Crid at December 15, 2006 10:43 AM

Hear, hear. Pinatas don't beat themselves. Whoops, and I think that's supposed to be "vegetarian".

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at December 15, 2006 12:10 PM

How is this good?

Polarity is underrated.

We've had it for the past 6 years, and they've sucked.

Maybe you disagree. But it certainly isn't working for me.

Posted by: LYT at December 16, 2006 1:44 AM

"Hugely respected by our armed forces"? I couldn't find anyone in my unit who voted for Mr. Clinton, and doubt that any of them (in my absence) lately voted for Mr. Kerry. I doubt this appraisal, because we sailors, at least the enlisted ranks, are highly sensitive to the behavior of anyone seeking command. There are just too many nitwit officers out there not to notice, and the truly great ones shine so brightly that they make said nitwits obvious.

From the "enlisted puke" view, Mr. Bush was the lesser of two evils by far, and I have to ask this question, apparently, of everyone:

What does being captured by the enemy have to do with being a capable leader? "Not breaking under the strain" is no answer at all, for a variety of reasons.

Posted by: Radwaste at December 16, 2006 3:35 AM

What does being captured by the enemy have to do with being a capable leader? "Not breaking under the strain" is no answer at all, for a variety of reasons.

Good point. This is the nonthink of far too many people.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 16, 2006 7:00 AM

I'm a sensitive boy but political rough-and-tumble bothers me less and less. What does trouble me is the amount of cynicism I detect in it -- not so much that it's evil, but algorithmic.

Being captured by the enemy is not a virtue or vice in itself, but it does imply that one risked said outcome in the first place, and that is a useful insight into one's character. As is taking an existential ass-beating, and then picking oneself up and moving on in life without pouting or losing one's sense of humor or purpose. And weathering extreme crisis does have a way of more properly calibrating your should-I-freak-out-yet? meter. Anyway, I suspect that's the unsaid arithmetic people are doing. Could be wrong.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at December 16, 2006 12:06 PM

And weathering extreme crisis does have a way of more properly calibrating your should-I-freak-out-yet?

Mm. On second though, Maria Shriver may differ on this point.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at December 16, 2006 12:17 PM

>>John McCain's awfully popular, but why?

This is also the question I have about Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: Gary S. at December 17, 2006 10:10 AM

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