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Think You Know John McCain?

He’s earned the nickname “McSame” for a reason

Jun. 11, 2008
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Back in 2000, when John McCain first ran for president, he was considered a maverick. Back then, he labeled televangelists Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell “agents of intolerance,” was working on campaign finance reform with Democrat Russ Feingold and was viewed as someone who stuck to his principles, party loyalty be damned.

But that’s the old John McCain. In the past eight years, the presumptive Republican nominee has morphed from outspoken rebel to the very embodiment of a George Bush-style neocon Republican. How much has McCain conformed to Bush’s agenda? So far this year, according to Congressional Quarterly, John McCain has voted with Bush 100% of the time.

This is not an anomaly, because since 2001, McCain has voted with Bush at least 89% of the time (although in 2005 a mere 77% of McCain’s votes supported Bush’s policies). What makes this all the more surprising is that Bush’s approval ratings have fallen steadily since their all-time high of 90% after 9/11 to his current approval rating of 29%. Yet McCain has continued to support the president’s unpopular decisions on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to denying assistance to low-income kids who need health insurance.

Most obviously, McCain supports the war in Iraq while 67% of people feel that the war was handled badly and want out. The former Vietnam POW claimed that he did not support waterboarding, but then he voted against a bill that would have outlawed such harsh forms of interrogation.

Bush vetoed the bill, in alignment with McCain’s new torture-supporting position. McCain opposes the bipartisan 21st Century GI Bill, which would provide post-9/11 veterans with comprehensive educational benefits; instead, he proposed a bill that would tie education benefits to the length of time one serves in the military (which, you guessed it, George Bush also favors).

On the domestic front, McCain supported Bush’s veto of a much-discussed bill that would have expanded a children’s health insurance program (known as SCHIP), telling CNN that it was the "right call." Yet an ABC News/WashingtonPost poll conducted last fall, while the bill was being debated, showed that 72% of those surveyed support SCHIP’s expansion. Only 25% supported the Bush/McCain position.

And don’t even think about President McCain doing the right thing and rolling back some of the heavy-handed policies created by Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Last week, National Review’s Web site posted a letter from a top McCain adviser affirming the candidate’s belief that spying on U.S. citizens without a warrant is perfectly legal and acceptable and that telecom companies should be immune from prosecution for anything illegal they may have done while collecting intelligence without a warrant.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com


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