Now that the most hectic four weeks of university work have come to an end, and I only have one assessment due next month that I can’t work on now, I can turn my attention (full attention that is) back to the things that actually interest me, like CityRail, T.V., cricket, movies and politics. Cricket is over for the season, and T.V. and movies I’m saving for holidays because they are a mountain of interest for me, and CityRail doesn’t interest me, rather it pisses me off. So that leaves politics. And what’s more interesting than American politics?
My knowledge had slipped as of late, not having that much time to keep my ear to the ground, being in a different country, and all. But, generally, I had kept tabs on those in the running for the Democratic primaries. After all, it’s a powerhouse of names that stand a chance at becoming President, as long as they don’t screw anything up: Obama, Clinton, Edwards the three serious names, with fringe candidates like Clark, Gore and Biden. I knew, roughly, how each of these stood in relation to winning the Democratic votes. But I had lost track of where the Republicans stood in relation to one another. One of the Republicans stands a chance at winning the election, and two stand a chance at the primaries.
Who are those Reds? No, not the communists, but the Republicans who stand a chance? Well, none of them really. But whose names are in the hat? Well, we have former favourite to win the primaries and the office out of all the Republicans, John McCain. But his constant flip-flopping and shift to the extreme right, as well as walking all over the qualities that he had that made him favourable out of all the Republicans has simply thrown him out of the running. McCain has quickly turned into the Republican joke, and the guy that the Democrats want to get in. Let’s take a look at his stance on election-deciding issues shall we?
Abortion, first up. What stood McCain out from the other Republicans was that he towed a moderate (for the Reps. at least) line that he wouldn’t ban it it, as it would force women to seek out illegal abortions(1). Then, last year in a whole spat of media tours to secure other’s seats in the lead up to the ’06 General Elections, McCain went on the record and said wouldn’t care in the slightest if the Supreme Court banned abortion, and further, would sign off on South Dakota’s attempts to ban abortions as well (2). So where McCain stood a chance to steal over any Democrat/centre voters on this issue, his move to the extreme right on this issue has, in fact, meant that not only can he steal votes here, but he would have lost Republican (moderate)/centre voters who either don’t enjoy his flip-flopping or don’t agree with banning abortion.
How about economic issues? Bush’s infamous tax cuts, McCain publicly denounced and opposed them for three years (3), then abruptly changed his stance, come the lead up to the ’06 General Elections again, to supporting and voting for Bush’s tax cuts (4). Similarly, when it came to campaign funding, he championed campaign finance reform (5) then, in ’05, was busy laying foundations to opt out of the campaign finance system for the ’08 race (6). So he’s towing the party line here, again, and making himself another red sheep and he stops standing out from the rest, as the Republican’s centrist-counter to Obama in the race, and becomes another Bush.
Social issues are certainly key to winning an election, and being able to capitalise on this is what can win an election. So you would think that someone running for the White House would just pick a stance and not budge, and cover up anything that might cost them votes with policies and opinions that would win them some, right? No, not McCain. Let’s talk about Jerry Falwell, famous for recently dying and being a loud fundamentalist, in which he preached God’s will occurring through everything that happened, claimed Bill Clinton was part of a cocaine smuggling ring, that the gay-oriented Metropolitan Community Churches contained members who were “brute beasts” and a part of “a vile and Satanic system” that will “one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven”, sued Penthouse and Hustler for publishing an interview of his in a magazine like their’s, and was just a general homophobic and sexist. Now, seriously, which political figure would associate themselves with him? Not McCain, of course, who called him an “evil influence” on the Republican Party (7). Wait, no, that statement is more than a day old, and it was time for McCain to say something different. Well, he didn’t just retract any statements he made about his new friend Falwell, no no no, McCain met with this crazy pastor to lay some sort of groundwork for his 2008 presidential run and agreed to speak at Falwell’s Liberty University (8).
Now, of course, when he decided to take up company like this and tow the Republican lines, he certainly had to change his old views on gay marriage, which saw him oppose the federal gay marriage ban in ’05 (9), and come to the red party in supporting a federal marriage amendment (10).
What could someone possibly do to lose more votes on social issues? Well, of course, advocate racism! McCain endorsed George Wallace Jr., keynote speaker at a white supremacist group meeting (11). That, of course, after he had publicly condemned the President for failing to denounce racists attitudes and beliefs at Bob Jones University in ’00 (12).
Of course, our flip-book friend McCain weighed in on the Creationism/Intelligent Design debate. And, once again, he did a back flip worthy of the circus (which is where a lot of Republicans are recruited from I hear). Where he once advocated the choice of teaching Intelligent Design being left to schools (13) , he then turned round and said that “young people have the right to be told” (14) (do note not taught but told) about Intelligent Design, and further, refused to exclude it from any science classes (15).
Ultimately, all this chopping and changing and bullshit on McCain’s part simply reflects what it looks like when a party has only a mediocre politician to offer the people, and they need to shape him to at least secure the extreme of their voters. Of course, it’s a two way street, and it speaks a lot about McCain’s convictions to his own political beliefs. Ultimately, it’s this flip-flopping that will lose him the primaries as well as any chance of becoming President, and thus, sums up the Republicans chances overall.
Next time I’ll dwell on the Republican’s only chance at winning on policy, Mitt Romney, and their only other name-recognition chance, who has no chance on policy, Rudy Giuliani.
(1) San Francisco Cronicle, 20/08/99
(2) CBS News, 25/01/06; ABC News, 29/03/06; ABC News 26/02/06; NationalJournal.com, 28/02/06
(3) Baltimore Sun, 27/04/01; Statement 18/03/03
(4) New York Times, 21/02/06
(5) New York Times 22/10/01
(6) National Journal 17/12/05; Hotline On Call 16/12/05
(7) Kansas City Star, 5/28/05
(8) US News and World Report, 11/14/05; Lynchburg News & Advance, 3/28/06
(9) Los Angeles Times, 25/01/05, 08/03 /05
(10) Meet the Press, 4/2/06
(11) AP, 17/11/05; AP, 06/06/05
(12) Fox, 24/2/00
(13) Times Union, 8/28/99
(14) Courier Journal, 12/20/05
(15) Arizona Daily Star, 8/28/05; NPR, 11/7/05