Saturday, August 23, 2008

John McCain-- too risky to be President.

I remember another summer. Probably a third of a century ago, or maybe even more. I was at summer camp.

Luckily it had been raining, so we were all soaked and miserable, not looking forward to going back to waterlogged tents and sleeping in sleeping bags that would probably be soaked through by the morning. We were all sitting around a campfire trying to get as warm and dry as we could before heading off to bed.

I did say "luckily" it had been raining real hard. Because some IDIOT thought it would be cute to bring along some fireworks that he had saved from the fourth of July and suddenly toss them into the campfire for 'entertainment.' Not just a few either. In those days you could get lots of good fireworks-- strings of firecrackers, black cats, cherry bombs, M-80's, bottle rockets.... well you know the whole list if you were a kid in the 1970's.

Well, it was "entertaining," that I will say. Nobody was bored stiff for the next several minutes. Fireworks started jumping out of the campfire and exploding all around everybody. Bottle rockets were firing off at all sorts of angles, ricocheting off the ground and chasing people across fields. Hot coals jumped up in the air and started pelting people (who quickly got the heck away from the campfire.) Even when the initial burst died down, it still went in spurts-- the odd firecracker here, the odd bottle rocket there would suddenly come shooting out of the ring of counselors who were rapidly throwing dirt and mud on the fire as soon as they could get close.

It's been a long time but if I remember right the camper who brought them was personally driven all the way home late that night by the head counselor.

I relate this story because it reminds me a lot of John McCain. He was against the Bush tax cuts, but now he favors tax cuts for the wealthy (which he needed in order to secure his party's nomination.) He's been on both sides of the drilling issue, and said earlier this year he'd veto the Farm Bill that passed "in a New York minute" if he were President because of the subsidies included in the bill. This of course is popular with the conservative base. But keep in mind that for years, mindful of the Iowa caucuses (which he ended up skipping this year, but didn't decide to do so until late 2007) he not only supported but sponsored several farm bills with much more generous subsidies than this one.

McCain seems to be willing to do anything and say anything to anyone to get a vote. He roundly condemned Pat Robertson in 2000 (once even getting talk-show host Michael Reagan to hang up on him because all he wanted to do was whine about Robertson) but by last year was buddy-buddy with Roberston.

Last year he wrote an illegal immigration bill reflecting how he has always talked about it, but after it failed he quickly wheeled around to reflect the views of the GOP electorate (at least in part) and suggested focusing on securing the border first.

One day he says he will never raise the limit on income subject to the Social Security tax, but the next day he says he's willing to put all options on the table, including raising the limit.

His political grandstanding with regard to the Russian war against Georgia is a new low. His comment that "we are all Georgians" seems clear to mean that we stand with them, but then logically leads to the question of what exactly we plan to do on their behalf and to restore and guarantee their territorial integrity. McCain doesn't answer that question, because he can't. Thanks to how much of our available combat strength is tied down fighting the Iraq war which he has been supporting and the fallout from the Bush policy of unilateralism, there is actually nothing much that we can do about Georgia. His statement is likely to only give the Georgians a false sense of hope. Which is beyond cynical-- it is like selling your soul. The reputation of the U.S. is bad enough now that we don't need to add, 'unreliable ally' to it, which we will if politicians like John McCain continue going around giving false hope around the world or making threats to people like Putin that we can't back up.

Throw in McCain's notoriously explosive temper and you have to ask whether it is safe to consider him for leader of the free world (at least you know Obama will never lose his cool in the Oval office during an emergency.)

The fact is, even conservatives don't know for sure what John McCain will do if he is President. There are days when I wonder if John McCain knows what he will do.

He's just too erratic, firing off in all directions like those fireworks, to be a safe choice for President of the United States.

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