Friday, July 20, 2012

Who John McCain could have been

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Sorry you had to see Anthony Weiner's bulging briefs again (Jon Stewart really needs to retire that photo!), but there's a point to this. Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, is Muslim, and she works for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Yeah, she's perfect loon-bait, huh? And she caught a bunch of them, not just Michele Bachmann. But what makes this noteworthy - after all, it can hardly be considered news when Bachmann says something crazy - was the response from John McCain:
Everything was going swimmingly for Bachmann and her compatriots Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland, who sent letters to five separate Inspectors General demanding an investigation into the Islamic kudzu spreading throughout the federal government, since the only folks complaining about the baseless accusations were liberals like Keith Ellison (also MUSLIM).

But then Senator John McCain had one of his moments of virtue that was not motivated by bitterness at losing an election and spite directed toward the winner (see the maverick-y version of McCain in 2001 for an example of that). Instead, he was just… decent, for decency sake, as he addressed the accusations against Abedin on the Senate floor…
Put simply, Huma represents what is best about America: the daughter of immigrants, who has risen to the highest levels of our government on the basis of her substantial personal merit and her abiding commitment to the American ideals that she embodies so fully. I am proud to know Huma, and to call her my friend.

Recently, it has been alleged that Huma, a Muslim American, is part of a nefarious conspiracy to harm the United States by unduly influencing U.S. foreign policy at the Department of State in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist causes…

To say that the accusations made in both documents are not substantiated by the evidence they offer is to be overly polite and diplomatic about it. It is far better, and more accurate, to talk straight: These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant.

That is eloquent and righteous and… good. What has the Muslim Brotherhood done with the cranky, sore-loser McCain?

The sad thing about it is that John McCain had the chance to be this kind of person, but he wasn't brave enough or honest enough or selfless enough to take it.

Instead of standing up to the crazies in his own party, instead of using his 2008 presidential nomination to lead the GOP back to sanity, he chose to go with the flow. This self-described "maverick," this moderate who flirted with joining the Democrats, chose to embrace the fanatics who've taken control of the Republican Party, rather than fight back.

It wasn't just that he chose Sarah Palin as his running-mate. No, the real problem was that he didn't stand up and lead.

A few times on the campaign trail, he feebly attempted to correct the especially embarrassing crap coming from the GOP base, but he was pathetically ineffectual. Well, when you've cravenly sold your soul for political ambition, I suppose it's hard to stand up for anything after that.

When he lost the presidential election, there was another chance for McCain to take a principled stand, but he ran away from that, too. He could have stood up to the right-wing fanatics during his Senate re-election bid, but instead, he sucked up to them just as hard as he could.

Apparently, he was so scared of losing the nomination in the GOP primary that he was willing to say and do whatever it took. Frankly, it's a wonder that John McCain has any self-respect left!

That's why this is so sad. It's not that Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert are crazy. We've always had crazy people and always will (though it is sad that they've been elected to high public office).

No, this is sad because it shows the kind of person John McCain could have been. It shows the kind of political leader John McCain could have been, with just a little more courage and a little more political virtue.

Could he have returned the GOP to sanity? Maybe not. But it would have been a worthy effort, successful or not.

And without principled leaders, men and women willing to risk their political ambition for what is right, the Republican Party may never recover from what their 'Southern strategy' has done to them.

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