Alexander's Column

Patriot Candidate Profile: John McCain

By Mark Alexander · Jan. 25, 2008

“In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.” –Alexander Hamilton

Time for some “straight talk” about John McCain, who posts a solid “7” in our ratings. That is to the right of center, between Ronald Reagan and the ignoble ranks of “useful idiots.”, Western apologists for socialist political and economic agendas – essentially, advocates for Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collectivism.

Indeed, Sen. McCain has come a long way since his unfortunate performance in the 2000 Presidential Primary.

For his part, McCain now says, “I seek the nomination of our Party, because I am as confident today as I was when I first entered public life as a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution that the principles of the Republican Party – our confidence in the good sense and resourcefulness of free people – are always in America's best interests. In war and peace, in good times and challenging ones, we have always known that the first responsibility of government is to keep this country safe from its enemies, and the American people free of a heavy-handed government that spends too much of their money, and tries to do for them what they are better able to do for themselves.”

OK, sounds good.

He continues, “We want government to do its job, not your job; to do it better and to do it with less of your money; to defend our nation's security wisely and effectively, because the cost of our defense is so dear to us; to respect our values because they are the true source of our strength; to enforce the rule of law that is the first defense of freedom; to keep the promises it makes to us and not make promises it will not keep. We believe government should do only those things we cannot do individually, and then get out of the way so that the most industrious, ingenious, and enterprising people in the world can do what they have always done: build an even greater country than the one they inherited.”

That's the talk, but how about the walk?

McCain's Congressional record is extensive and well documented, but his history prior to being elected to Congress is certainly worth a review.

John Sidney McCain III was born 29 August 1936 at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in Panama within the then-American-controlled Panama Canal Zone. He was the son of John S. McCain, Jr. and Roberta McCain. His father and grandfather were the first pair of father/son full admirals in the United States Navy.

John and his older sister Sandy and younger brother Joe moved with their parents to their father's naval postings in the United States and the Pacific, attended more than a dozen schools before his parents settled in Northern Virginia, where McCain attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria. He was a good student and excelled in wrestling before graduating in 1954.

As his father and grandfather before him, McCain entered the United States Naval Academy where he was well liked, and demonstrated leadership abilities. He also became a lightweight boxer. He graduated from Annapolis in 1958 and became a naval aviator. Flying mission into Vietnam, his first brush with death was in 1967, when he narrowly escaped death after ordnance explosions on the USS Forrestal.

On his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam later that year, he was shot down. He suffered severe injuries was captured by the North Vietnamese. He spent five and a half years as a POW and like others, suffered severe torture at the hands o fhis captors before being released in accordance with the 1973 Paris Peace Accords.

McCain retired from the Navy in 1981. His service awards include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross and the National Order of Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam).

He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona's 1st congressional district in 1982, and after two terms, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning reelection in 1992, 1998, and 2004. As the Senior Senator from Arizona, McCain has a well-earned reputation as a political maverick.

John McCain has considerable “insider” support from highly-rated conservatives Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson, both of whom know McCain well. He also has the support of a broad cross section of Congress, including many Reagan foot soldiers like Jack Kemp, Phil Gramm and Sam Brownback, and broad grassroots support of many fellow Patriots such as Vietnam veteran and former POW Roger Ingvalson, who was profiled in a Patriot Veterans Day edition.

To his credit, and deficit, McCain has a substantial legislative record on national issues – which is why one can find voters who like him, and those who loathe him, on both ends of the political spectrum.

McCain's lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union is 83, comparable to Thompson's 86. It is worth noting that the ACU does not rate voting records on how they comport with the Constitution, but how they comport with contemporaneous Republican mandates – which are not always one and the same.

He has been ranked favorably by other conservative organizations: National Federation of Independent Business – 100 percent; Concerned Women for America – 100 percent; Family Research Council – 100 percent; National Tax Limitation Committee – 94 percent; Citizens Against Government Waste – 91 percent; and the National Taxpayers Union – 88 percent.

However, all Patriots should take pause at McCain's C+ rating from the National Rifle Association, and his lack of clear support for the Second Amendment, the “palladium of all other rights.”

Also, take pause at his Demo-memo comments about why he did not support the Bush tax cuts: “I cannot in good conscience, support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief.” Stupefying.

Fortunately, McCain has some key advisors who are fiscal conservatives, namely Jack Kemp, Phil Gramm and supply-side economist Arthur Laffer.

In an effort to make amends on the tax issue, McCain now paints himself a tax reformer. When asked recently by former Clintonista George Stephanopoulos, “Are you a 'read my lips' candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?” McCain responded, “No new taxes…in fact, I could see an argument, if our economy continues to deteriorate, for lower interest rates, lower tax rates and certainly decreasing corporate tax rates, which are the second-highest in the world, giving people the ability to write off depreciation in a year, elimination of the AMT. There's a lot of things that I would think we should do to relieve that burden, including, obviously, as we all know, simplification of the tax code.”

Despite his initial lack of support for the Bush tax cuts, to his credit McCain has voted for virtually every measure to cut “porkmarks” from the federal budget.

McCain has a commendable record when it comes to the primary constitutional responsibility of the executive branch: national security. His position on Operation Iraqi Freedom has been clear, consistent and politically courageous.

His support for border security and comprehensive immigration reform are also notable, though tag-teaming with Teddy Kennedy (McCain-Kennedy) on this issue undermines McCain's credibility. (Call it “amnesty” if you must, but the nescient evocation of this term short circuits a clear evaluation of a very complicated issue.)

Regarding immigration reform, McCain says, “I've listened and learned. No one will be rewarded for illegal behavior. They'll go to the back of the line, pay fines and learn English.”

Regarding constitutional constructionists, McCain strongly supported the Supreme Court confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, and he aggressively supported the Reagan nomination of Judge Robert Bork.

Perhaps the most important domestic policy issue the next president will undertake is the nomination of one or two Justices to the Supreme Court. McCain has stated admirably, that he is committed to nominating constitutional constructionists: “[T]he duties and boundaries of the Constitution are not just a set of helpful suggestions. They are not just guidelines to be observed when it's convenient and loosely interpreted when it isn't. In federal and state courts … there are still men and women who understand the proper role of our judiciary and I intend to find them and promote them…. My nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power.”

In contrast, his principle opponent, Barack Hussein Obama, says of his nominees, “We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old – and that's the criteria by which I'll be selecting my judges.”

His McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform legislation, however, is an abomination and an outright affront to the First Amendment.

Equally deserving of outright contempt from all objective scientific observers is McCain's white flag on the issue of “global warming” – not so much whether the planet is warming, but why. He also supports the dubious cap-and-trade carbon emissions program, and does not support oil exploration in ANWR.

As noted by my colleague, George Will, “When McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced legislation empowering Congress to comprehensively regulate U.S. industries' emissions of greenhouse gases in order to 'prevent catastrophic global warming,' they co-authored an op-ed column that radiated McCainian intolerance of disagreement. It said that a U.N. panel's report 'puts the final nail in denial's coffin about the problem of global warming.' Concerning the question of whether human activity is causing catastrophic warming, they said, 'the debate has ended'.”

Will added, “Interesting, is it not, that no one considers it necessary to insist that 'the debate has ended' about whether the Earth is round. People only insist that a debate stop when they are afraid of what might be learned if it continues.”

When profiling McCain, one is obliged to mention those billion-dollar savings and loan Senatorial skeletons, who, along with McCain, comprised the Keating Five: Alan Cranston (D-CA); Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ); John Glenn (D-OH); and Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (D-MI). Note, four Democrats and one Republican? In doing so, however, we must also note that Robert Bennett, Chief Counsel to the Democrats during the investigation, said that McCain should not be included in the investigation and that their was not evidence of any wrongdoing by Senator McCain.

Perhaps the most injurious “straight talk” on McCain is the endorsement he received from The New York Times (along with its endorsement of Hillary Clinton), which proclaimed, “There is a choice to be made, and it is an easy one. Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field.”

So, we are no longer “the vast, right-wing conspiracy” but the “small, angry fringe”?

The bottom line with McCain: There's more to like than dislike, but until further policy clarification, he only gets a midland Patriot rating. John McCain is only a marginal Reagan conservative, but fortunately, he is no Clinton/Obama liberal either.

(Publisher's Note: The Patriot's editors have provided Presidential Candidate Ratings. These ratings are based on comprehensive analysis of many factors, including each candidate's record, experience, capability, character, leadership qualifications and, of course, demonstrated ability to grasp the [plain language of our Constitution | http://patriotpost.us/alexander/2006/07/07/constitutional-exegesis-v-eisegesis/] – and promote it accordingly.)