As John McCain moves to smooth the ruffled feathers of social conservatives considered about his past attitudes toward them and about his stance on a number of issues, my doubts about the presidential bid of the Arizona Republican continue to grow. I’m always troubled when a candidate goes out of his way to appease social conservatives — as McCain appears to be doing.
I have long respected this Vietnam veteran and prisoner of war for he is a true American hero. After being captured by the North Vietnamese when his plane was shot down, he “refused early release–which he saw as a public relations stunt by his captors–insisting that POWs held longer than him should be granted their freedom first.” As a result, his captors treated him more harshly. He would have received better treatment had he given in to any number his captors’ demands. He refused.
He has been steadfast in his support of the War on Terror and unwavering in his commitment to victory in Iraq — despite past bad blood with President Bush. He has put his the national interest over his reported dislike of the Chief Executive. Not only has he been great on national security issues, he has also been solid on fiscal issues as well, faulting Congress for “spending money like a drunken sailor.”
But, while he has been excellent on these two items on the conservative agenda, he has equivocated on what kind of judges he would appoint were he elected president. Back in 2000, when I was deciding between him and then-Texas Governor George W. Bush as I prepared to cast my vote in the California GOP primary, I found both candidates compelling until McCain lost it when radio talk show host Michael Reagan asked him about his judicial appointments.
In the last Congress, when Republicans had a comfortable majority in the Senate, he led the Gang of Fourteen to compromise on filibustering the president’s nominees to the federal bunch, thus preventing the Senate from exercising its constitutional responsibility to vote on all the candidates the president tapped.
It’s not just judges where McCain makes me uncomfortable, it’s also his tendency to posture on certain issues to please the media. It seems that since he was in the “Keating Five” scandal, he has bent over backwards to support campaign finance reform, authoring numerous proposals placing onerous restrictions on political speech. At times, when he takes issue with his party, he seems to be doing so only to become the “maverick” Republican. And we know how much the MSM likes Republicans at odds with their party and the president.
With the latest news that McCain is courting Christian conservatives, it seems McCain is trying yet again to placate a group not readily disposed to him. On a number of issues, notably foreign policy and federal spending, John McCain has been a bold conservative, standing up against the media establishment and even his party (when it strayed from its principles). And he was a true hero during the Vietnam War.
But, too often, alas, he seems too eager to please those who might otherwise be an odds with him. Not a quality which would serve him well as Commander-in-Chief. And that’s why I have a problem with John McCain.