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John McCain 1936-2008

September 20, 2008

Why I no longer support McCain

There is no one who I admire more than McCain. However, like De Gaulle (on Petain), I believe that, “John McCain was a great man; he died on August 29 2008’. I agree with a lot of McCain’s ideas including his support for spreading democracy, toleration of immigrants and his belief in fiscal responsibility and businesses standing on their own two feet. As someone who is left of centre on domestic issues it was encouraging to see that he had the sense to initially oppose Bush’s tax cuts. At the same time I was deeply unimpressed with Obama and the way in which the Democratic left had treated Joe Lieberman and even Hillary Clinton (though Clinton was wrong to attribute it to misogyny).

The problem is threefold. McCain’s incredibly botched attempt to get Lieberman on the ticket, revealed that, whatever they might have said last December, the Republican right have a dislike for moderates that is just as great as The Daily Kos. McCain also compounded the problem by capitulating to them and leaving Lieberman out to dry, the latest in a string of such backdowns over taxes, immigration and other issues. Finally, after rejecting one of the few people who could have unified America, McCain decided to select someone who was not only totally inexperienced but a representation of the nastier elements of the Republican Party.

There is no doubt that McCain’s heart is in the right place. His acceptance speech at the convention and his initial opposition to the AIG bailout clearly demonstrated that. However, good intentions are irrelevant unless one is willing to follow through on them. It is clear that McCain has neither the expertise to stand up to Wall Street’s (and Detroit’s) begging bowl, nor the will to stand up to the Republican right on immigration. At the same time the far-right associations, lies and inexperience make Governor Palin one of the most frightening politicians to have emerged on either side of the Atlantic.

Of course, this could all change. If Sarah Palin was forced off the ticket or if McCain actually mustered the courage to oppose Paulson’s plan then he might regain some of his honour. However, even I have to admit that it is unlikely at this stage that the ‘Pitbull with lipstick’ will be replaced with the ‘”friendly little puppy’ (to quote a speech Lieberman made on religion). Also, it is clear that McCain is under the thumb of advisors such as Gramm and Fiorina who will call for more bailouts and more tax cuts for the rich. Of course, given that I am not American, my support doesn’t matter but I would guess that many moderates who previously considered voting for McCain feel likewise.

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