First of all let’s be clear, I’m not that big a fan of any politician, my general opinion being that the majority of them are interested in only one thing, staying in office. Because if you stay in office you have political power to make things happen and while some I’m sure are just addicted to the power, that power has to have benefits, hmmmm wonder what those are?
However Senator McCain for a long time had the most respect I could muster for a politician. First you take a look at his background, the man withstood 6 years in the Hanoi Hilton, a prisoner of the North Vietnamese, he was tortured and abused and took it all. Did he crack, sure he did, but there is no such thing as a man who doesn’t crack under those circumstances and McCain himself has admitted that fact. Then as a senator McCain was in fact a maverick, most politicians upon hearing an idea or reading a bill first check to see what party it came from? If it came from their party it’s a good idea, if not, then it is something to be defeated and demonized. This was not McCain’s stance, sure he took the party line most of the time, but that fit his ideology. However he was not blindly committed to only doing what the party wanted and at times crossed the aisle when he thought appropriate. For this he was branded as a “liberal” Republican and at times his party loyalty was questioned.
I was even lucky enough to meet him once at a hotel in Reno. It was when he was running for the nomination of the Republican Party and I happened to be staying at the same hotel. I met him coming out out of the elevator, I had noticed the security standing outside of the door of the room next to mine and I put two and two together. We shook hands and he introduced himself and I joked he better keep the noise down and he replied with a smirk, “I think you better, I have the guys with the guns.” I ran into him getting back on the elevator a couple of hours later and although security had stopped them, McCain waived an elderly couple and then me on to the elevator with him. It was a brief encounter with him but he seemd like a genuinely nice man.
My loss of admiration for McCain started during his run for the nomination and subsequent run for President. First, during the nomination run he was the McCain I knew and respected, and subsequently in a system that does not reward honesty and integrity he was trailing. At this point I would have expected McCain to stand his ground, behind his principles and lose the nomination. But alas, the drive to win, to be the big man was too much for him to ignore and so he started moving to the right and dropping the type of rhetoric John McCain had never used. He even began to court the religious right, a group that he was notoriously at odds with over the last few years. The tactic was as we all know successful and he became the Republican Party nominee.
Once he became the nominee he went even further to the right in hopes of winning and as we all know thrust Sarah Palin upon us all. From everything I’ve read McCain may regret that decision as badly as the rest of us do but now we are subjected to throngs of Tea Party wanna be Sarah Palin’s yelling, drill baby drill. Needless to say I’d lost a lot of respect for McCain by time the election but thought maybe, now that he’d lost, he might return to being the senator I respected, it was not to be.
McCain is right now embroiled in an election battle with J.D. Hayworth a former representative and now a radio talkshow host. Given Hayworth’s right-wing attitudes and his success with the voters McCain has turned drastically to the right particularly on immigration where he once cosponsored a bill with Ted Kennedy. He’s gone from a reasonable man on this issue to a right-wing parrot for the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Pailin and the Tea Party. John McCain has even produced an ad where he says, finish this fence, in reference to the border fence in Arizona. He’s backing Jan Brewer and her idiocy and has taken a brutal hard line on immigration. Were these his beliefs and policies all along I could respectively disagree, but when your beliefs and policy recommendations are based on the political expediency of the moment, well at that point Senator McCain, you’re just another politician and I hope you lose.