Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

The Real McCain: Tidbits

  • The world is currently outraged that the military dictatorship of Myanmar/Burma is refusing to let U.S. and international aid in to help the millions devastated by the cyclone. Even Pres. Bush is begging to send massive aid (aid he still hasn’t sent to New Orleans, but that’s a different story). So, who has Sen. John McCain picked to run the upcoming Republican National Convention? Doug Goodyear, once a lobbyist for the Burmese military dictatorship! Great choice, no? And yet more evidence that McCain’s relationship with D.C. lobbyists is MUCH closer than he lets on. (Update: Goodyear just quit over the Burma ties. Good call, but doesn’t show much judgment on McCain’s part.  People have made a big stink over Obama’s slight aquaintance with a former member of the Weather Underground–even though that movement took place when Obama was eight years old and living in Indonesia!–but McCain should thoroughly vet people he wants to employ! He’s an adult and trying to become President, for crying out loud.
  • In 2000 and 2004, John McCain tried to modify the GOP platform plank on abortion: allowing exceptions for rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother. These are exceptions that even the majority of pro-life people support. Now, because his relationship with the GOP rightwing base is so shaky (thousands of GOP voters in North Carolina last Tues., long weeks after McCain secured the nomination, still voted for Romney or Huckabee), he is flip-flopping–and won’t challenge the plank’s opposition to all abortions under any circumstances!
  • McCain’s reputation for honesty seems to rest on simply a cozy relationship with the media.  Arianna Huffington claims that in 2000 (after Bush  and Rove smeared McCain grossly in South Carolina), both John and Cindy McCain told her that they didn’t vote for George W. Bush. Now, McCain says that he did.  Who is telling the truth? Well, consider some other McCain denials:
  • He denied ever talking with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) about becoming his VP running mate in ’04. Later, he admitted this conversation did take place. (I thought Kerry was dumb to think about McCain, but that’s a different topic.)
  • McCain has denied that he ever said that he doesn’t know much about the economy. But he said exactly that to The Wall Street Journal (not exactly a bastion of liberal spin!), and the Boston Globe, and The Baltimore Sun. That’s in addition to the original quote to Tim Russert, which you can watch here.  Recently, McCain has been touting economic plans in Iowa (where he polls well below either Obama or Clinton) and Michigan. If I were living in Michigan, I’d remember that when he was campaigning for the GOP Michigan primary in January, he told potential voters that their jobs were leaving and never coming back. So, the new jobs he’s promising must be Wal-mart types, huh?
  • McCain claimed that in 24 years in the U.S. Senate, he’s never asked for an “earmark” (porkbarrel projects snuck into appropriations bills without voting–both parties regularly waste taxpayer money this way) for Arizona. But he did.
  • Less than 24 hours after Cindy McCain told reporters that the McCain campaign would not resort to smear tactics (she was branding a DNC commercial that quoted McCain’s own words and used them against him as a smear), John McCain claimed that Obama is “the favorite candidate of Hamas.” Now, Obama has always said that Hamas is a terrorist group and, in his only trip to the Palestinian territories, told Hamas that unless they renounced terrorism and recognized Israel’s right to existence, NO U.S. President, from any Party, would ever recognize or help them. So, this was clearly a smear. But now McCain says that people want him to link Obama and Hamas. Which people? Bill O’Reilly? Karl Rove? Nasty stuff.
  • McCain has been involved in yet another land swap deal that does not show anything illegal, but does show that he has not been as immune to lobbyist charms as he has claimed after his involvement in the Keating Five scandal.
  • And then there’s major McCain flip-flops: He voted against the Bush tax cuts, but now wants to make them permanent. (Note: McCain claims that, as a fiscal conservative, he wanted tax cuts only if accompanied by spending cuts to pay for them. Sounds good. Except that’s not what he said at the time. The first round of Bush tax cuts he specifically opposed because they favored the rich. The second round he opposed because, as he rightly said, it is irresponsible to cut taxes when going to war!) He voted, and CAMPAIGNED for immigration reform that he now opposes.  He once opposed the Religious Right as “agents of intolerance,” but now actively seeks their support–including the support of the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rod Parsley (who urges America to declare war on all Muslims!), and John Hagee!
  • McCain was formerly for much stronger climate change legislation than he now supports.
  • McCain, a victim of torture while a prisoner of war, used to be completely against torture, including waterboarding (the drowning torture). He had said that all interrogations should be conducted according to the Geneva Conventions as codifed in the U.S. Army Field Manual. But recently he opposed legislation that would have specifically restricted the CIA to the techniques authorized by the Field Manual and praised Pres. Bush for vetoing it.
  • He makes jokes about bombing Iran.
  • He voted against desegregated housing in Arizona and against the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday.
  • He has made crude jokes and comments that suggest a deep-seated sexism, even misogyny.  They are too vulgar for me to repeat or link to, because of the danger that children could see them. But you can find them on the web. One such joke in the ’90s was a put-down of Hillary and Chelsea Clinton and former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno in one breath. It also implied that all strong women must be lesbians.  Another “joke” publicly referred to his wife, Cindy, by a nauseatingly vulgar slang term.
  • Then there is the strange opposition of McCain to a new “G.I. Bill.” Why would someone of the “we support the troops” party oppose Democratic-sponsored legislation to help the brave men and women we send into harms way (especially into stupid, illegal wars like Iraq)? The G.I. Bill after WWII helped to create the vast middle class of the 1950s by paying for college or job-training for millions of vets. Why would McCain begrudge this to today’s vets?
  • McCain’s use of his wife’s jet for campaign purposes may be illegal. So may her refusal to release her tax returns. 

For more on the John McCain who is NOT the jolly maverick created by the media, see The Real McCain.  With a McCain presidency we get less jobs and more wars. No thanks.

May 10, 2008 Posted by | U.S. politics | 1 Comment

Hillary Clinton’s “Macaca Moment.”

When former Sen. George Allen (R-VA), once one of the GOP’s stars and seen as a major presidential contender, referred to an independent, student journalist filming the campaign as “Macaca,” an apparent racial slur, it wasn’t just a gaffe or a stumble. It was also an opening for VA voters to consider seriously for the first time the candidacy of his challenger, Jim Webb, a former Republican who was Sec. of Navy under Reagan and whose son was serving in Iraq–but who was strongly against the war and running for the Senate to stop it.  Since VA, like the rest of the U.S. in ’06 (and still–the latest numbers are 68% of the population wanting the troops home within 6 months and 85% of Democrats wanting the same!) wanted to end the Iraq War, they gave Allen the boot and welcomed Webb.

I have no idea whether or not George Allen is a racist or intended his “Macaca comment” to be a racial slur. (I had never heard the term before the controversy.) But the term has now entered the U.S. political lexicon as a huge, possibly fatal, gaffe on matters of race.  Earlier this week, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) had her very own “Macaca moment.”

She was telling USA Today why she should remain in the race for the Democratic nomination. That she had a coalition that was more electable than Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)’s coalition  in the general election because “she had the hard working, working class white people.”  Well. I am a white Southern male. I come from working class roots (and she doesn’t). Although I have spent time in the ivory towers of the academy and in other white collar situations, I currently work a blue collar job for the union based health insurance and other benefits.  I have to tell you, I found Clinton’s comments insulting.  It seemed like she was trying to recreate Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy or channeling the ghost of (former Alabama Gov.) George Wallace and saying, “Vote for me. You and I are white together–not like YOU KNOW WHO!”  I felt that I was being called a racist and urged to vote for because I am (supposedly) a racist at the same time.  That was incredibly insulting.

Clinton has insulted me and other Obama supporters throughout the primaries.  We are not the right kind of voters. We live in the “wrong” states. We are college educated or college students. We make too much money (Is she kidding me?  First off, my wife and I work 3 jobs to make less than $45,000 for a family of 4–in which we are trying to save for both our children’s upcoming college costs and our retirement–as the GOP keeps trying to privatize Social Security. Second, she and Bill made $109 million since leaving the White House. WHO makes too much money!!!) We are too intellectual. And now, we are not white working class. Well, I AM BOTH a highly educated intellectual AND white working class. And I am proud to support Obama.

BTW, by calling the white working class voters who support her “hard working” is she implying that African-Americans are lazy?  I’d expect a comment like this from Trent Lott (former GOP Sen. from Mississippi), but this is Hillary Clinton. What gives?

Yes, Clinton has done better among white working class voters than Obama. But it’s not like Obama has not had any voting for him. In some states, including Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama, he got the majority of white voters as well as the majority of black voters.  In many states, he won where there are hardly ANY African Americans (e.g., Iowa, Wisconsin, Washington State, Vermont, Idaho, Wyoming, etc.) Yes, some of those states will NOT likely go Democratic in the Fall. And, YES, Clinton’s edge with white, working class voters in OH, PA, WV, and KY gives her the (current) edge in the Electoral College delegate math.  But, as everyone knows, that edge is fluent.  And, if she urges her supporters to support Obama in the general election, there is no reason to think that enough of them won’t help him win.  Nationally, he is once more out-polling (slightly) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) after falling behind him during the month long smears in March.

Look, Democrats cannot win the White House without working class whites in key states, it’s true.  But neither can they win without African-Americans (13% of the population that votes 90% Democratic). For Hillary to try to create or widen divisions instead of healing them shows that her desire to be president is outweighing the interests of the Party and the Nation.  I hate to see her and Bill Clinton, who used to try for national dialogues on race to try to address our divisions, now become remembered for race-bating. But they have been guilty of it at several times during this campaign. Now, it seems Hillary is trying to get in touch with her inner Klansman and urging whites in WV and KY (and superdelegates) to do the same.  This blue collar evangelical WASP from the South says–“No thanks!”

P. S.: Jimmy Carter in 1976 was the last Democrat to win the majority of white working class voters. Bill Clinton only got 39% of white males in ’92 and owed his election to Ross Perot. John Kerry only had the same % of white males as Obama does at this point in the ’04 campaign, but went on to lose the popular vote by less than 1%.  I don’t know if Obama will get the majority of the white working class, but in a year in which the economy stinks, in which 68% of Americans want the troops withdrawn from Iraq(not stay indefinitely as McCain urges), and in which the GOP brand-name itself is very unpopular (as recently both Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich both warned their GOP colleagues!), I think it quite possible that Obama can win enough white working class voters that, combined with the other parts of the coalition, can beat McCain in November.  John Kerry lost in ’04 by less than 1 million votes. In the 7 primaries that culminated in PA, alone, there have been 1.8 million new Democratic voters. Obama, who has great experience in voter registration drives, just launched a 50 state voter registration drive that hopes to register millions of new voters between now and November.  He’s growing the Party. Clinton is pandering to racial stereotypes.  What has happened to her?

May 10, 2008 Posted by | prejudice, race, U.S. politics | 6 Comments