Livin' it up, American style

Friday, October 13, 2006

Warner in...2012? McCain in...never?

I was disappointed to see that Mark Warner, former Democratic governor of Virginia, has decided not to run for president in '08. Warner had been seen as the candidate of choice for those who are not thrilled by the idea of supporting Hiliary Clinton (D-NY). His withdrawal has led to some donors to turn to his heir apparent, Evan Bayh, a very moderate Democratic Senator out of the very red state of Indiana. I, on the other hand, hope that Warner's absence leads to some new, more liberal candidates jumping into the race. Enough of all these careful moderate Dems, I want to see some unabashed liberal run, someone like Paul Wellstone, like...Russ Feingold. Feingold (D-WI) has long been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, and can't really be described as a moderate on too many positions. Perhaps a Feingold/Obama ticket? One can only dream, but like the saying goes, The Midwest Will Rise Again!

Meanwhile, John McCain (R-AZ) is continuing to posture himself as the front runner for the Republican nomination. He came out swinging against Hilary Clinton, the perceived Democratic front runner. Republicans are hoping for a Clinton V McCain matchup in 2008, because they think that McCain would attract more moderates from both parties than Clinton would. It annoys me that McCain still has this reputation for being a moderate who is not afraid of going against his party. That John McCain no longer exists. That McCain wasn't afraid to write a bill on campaign finance reform, when most other Republicans and many Democrats avoided the topic like the plague. He criticized leaders of the religious right, like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. He was the leader of the Gang of 14, the 14 moderate Senators who worked together to keep the Senate from using the nuclear option to end Democrat filibusters on judicial nominees. He was pro-environment, and against passing several of Bush's tax breaks.

But that was the old McCain. Now we are in the era of the McCain who goes to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University to give a commencement address, even though he once called Falwell an agent of intolerence and said he would never back down from that opinion. McCain evidently realized that isolating the religious right might not be the way to become president. He also supports the teaching of intelligent design in schools, another pandering to the religious right. During Bush's reelection campaign in 2004, McCain became a staunch supporter of the same man who had run an extremely dirty primary campaign against him in 2000. He has been an unwavering supporter of the Iraqi war and Bush's actions there.

However, the final unveiling of McCain as a party line conservative was when he sold out and supported a bill that permits the administration to continue to use torture. For a little while back in September, it had looked like McCain, Sen. John W. Warner (R-VA.), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) were going to make the Bush administration clarify the interrogation tactics it was and was not allowed to use on detainees. These senators were being lauded for not giving in to the Bush administration and giving it a carte blanche for torture. But the so called compromise bill they came up with did just that. Basically it said that people who commit torture that causes serious bodily harm or death could be convicted of a felony, that there should be a ban on interrogation methods that inflict "serious and non-transitory mental harm", and none of these rules apply to people who committed torture before the bill goes into effect. So um, that's it? So you're saying...uh...only really, really bad torture is wrong? How is this new bill going to do anything to change what the CIA is currently doing? You'd think a man who had been a POW for years would take a more decisive stand against this issue, but I guess getting a few more conservative votes is more important.


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