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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Book of Matthew: Who is John McCain?

Published: March 14, 2008
Section: Opinions

Not too long ago, John McCain was way behind in the Republican race, and all but counted out by the pundits. Today, he is the Republican nominee. This is why we shouldn’t trust pundits.

The right-wing conservative media says John McCain is far too liberal to be the Republican nominee, and that even Hillary Clinton is more conservative. Obviously they haven’t been watching votes very well. This is why we shouldn’t trust the right-wing conservative media.

John McCain himself ran his campaign based on the promise of “independence” and “straight talk”, which he has not upheld in the slightest. So today, I would like to discuss why we should not trust Senator John McCain.

Lets talk about “straight talk”. McCain has had this “straight-talker” image for a while; it was something he invented during the Keating Five scandal of 1989. The Keating Five were five US Senators, one of whom being McCain, who had tried to convince the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to ease off of the investigation of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which had collapsed at a huge cost to taxpayers. It was then discovered that these same Senators had received a total of about $300,000 in campaign contributions from Charles H. Keating, Jr., the chairman of Lincoln. This set off another series of investigations that led to the five Senators being charged with corruption.

In McCain’s own book, Worth the Fighting For, he talks about the difficult situation he found himself in during this scandal. He had decided that the best way to clear his name was to get on reporters’ good sides, and in order to do that, he committed himself to giving as many interviews and answering as many questions as accurately as possible. It worked, and to this day, McCain has relied on goodwill from the press to get him out of many tight spots.

Does this make McCain a “straight-talker”? No. It makes him a skillful politician. Unfortunately, the media hasn’t realized this yet, which is particularly disappointing when one considers how obvious it is. Just recently, McCain voted against a bill that would have banned waterboarding and other methods of torture, even though he has spent his years in government as a critic of such methods. But did the press attack him for this? Did they call him a flip-flopper, as they have done to so many other candidates in the past? Hardly.

In fact, when it became public knowledge that McCain has voted party line the majority of his time in the Senate, and even more so now that he is running for president, do you think the press stopped referring to him as an “independent maverick”? Not even close.

Of course, in the media’s defense, John McCain makes a mean barbeque dinner. It’s hard to turn against a guy handing you all the ribs and cole slaw you can eat.

But even without all the press support, McCain scares me. I know many of McCain’s supporters are thinking, “John McCain served our nation honorably in Vietnam, and therefore he has the experience to lead.” I cannot agree. Yes, I know that McCain fought in Vietnam and was a POW in a North Vietnamese prison camp, and we should honor him for this service and sacrifice. But, military service does not automatically qualify one for the presidency. McCain has already admitted that he does not understand the economy as well as he would like, and he constantly voices support for a hundred-year Iraq war, as well as other “wars on terror” around the world. Essentially, he is advocating a third Bush term, which is something that, according to the polls, the vast majority of Americans should be against.

So don’t be fooled, America. John McCain is not the man you think he is, and we can do much better.