Sunday , February 25 2024
John McCain has gone back on his positions on every issue on which his national reputation had rested.

John McCain: A Man Without Principle

John McCain is a man without principle.

I don't like the term "flip-flop." It's a flippant word that tends to trivialize important matters. But we seem to be stuck with it, so let's call McCain's latest turnabout yet another flip-flop.

Formerly, the presumptive Republican candidate at least gave lip service to the rule of law regarding executive power. A mere six months ago, asked about warrantless wiretapping, he told The Boston Globe, "I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is… I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law."

Yet this week, a McCain advisor said the candidate believes the president can authorize an intelligence agency to monitor international phone calls placed by Americans without warrants, breaking the law established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Snuggling ever closer to Bush's abusive doctrines and extreme ideology, the "maverick" is looking more and more like a mule. Since beginning his current presidential bid he's gone back on his positions on every issue on which his national reputation had rested.

The war hero who endured years of torture out of loyalty to his country and comrades-in-arms now thinks torture is quite all right. McCain supported the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which stated, "No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Convention as a source of rights." Translation: "unlawful combatants," a made-up category designed to obfuscate, may be tortured at will.

McCain previously enjoyed a reputation of concern for the "little guy," frequently going against Republican tax policy. He originally opposed Bush's tax plans because they cut taxes for the rich "at the expense of middle class Americans." But now, having conveniently reversed himself, he voted to extend those same cuts, apparently no longer concerned about trivial matters like budget deficits and average Americans.

McCain abandoned campaign finance reform – the issue that still has his name on it (McCain-Feingold) – when it became clear that he was going to need more money for his campaign. He abandoned immigration reform when he realized he needed the backing of the Republican party's large Nativist wing. Most egregiously, he’s abandoned our troops. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America examined Senate votes from late 2001 through 2006, and awarded McCain a D on issues affecting "troops, veterans, or military families." That's worth repeating: McCain, the war hero, gets a D in supporting the troops – a grade given not by the press, or through a poll, but by the troops themselves. (Cliff Schechter has a good chapter on this in his recent book The Real McCain.)

Ironically, the only things on which McCain has remained steadfast have been continuing the Iraq war – the most blatant failure of the Bush years – and a general disdain for diplomacy and common sense. Is Iran seeking nuclear weapons? No problem – just bomb them.

A vote for McCain is a vote for an America emptied of moral authority, honor, and cash.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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