Why I will not vote for McCain
By John D. Turner
12 Feb 2008

Romney has dropped out. Huckabee is far behind and not expected to catch up. According to the press and Republican activists therefore, McCain is now my man. Whatever my personal views are, I am told, I should just “suck it up”, hold my nose and vote for him anyway. After all, he’s better than Clinton or Obama.

And a cold is better than the flu. So what? I am tired of holding my nose.

I held my nose in 1992 and voted for George H. W. Bush’s second term. I didn’t particularly like him. I didn’t think he was that much of a conservative. He was vitriolic in his primary campaign against Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election. It was George H. W. Bush who coined the term “voodoo economics” to describe Reagan’s economic plan, which has subsequently become known as “Reaganomics”. Reaganomics is now a central tenant of Conservative thought, much as Social Security is for the Democrats. Bush never subscribed to it, which became evident when during his presidency he raised taxes despite his “read my lips” pledge during the campaign.

Bush played conservatives like a fiddle. But, I was told, he was better than Bill Clinton.

But George the First either thought it was in the bag, or else he really didn’t want it that bad. He ran a lackluster campaign similar to that recently seen by Fred Thompson. And he lost 370 to 168 in the Electoral College.

In 1996, the Republican Party served up Bob Dole as the candidate. Once again, I was told to hold my nose, and once again I did. I didn’t agree with him. He was a moderate, not a conservative. I thought that his candidacy would be an unmitigated disaster. Yet, he won 44 of 60 statewide primaries. It was his turn at bat, I was told. The Republican Party was rewarding an old warhorse who had carried the party’s standard faithfully for many years.

Dole got the nomination, and went down to defeat. Bill Clinton swept him 379-159 in the Electoral College. The electorate, it seems, was not that enamored with a candidate who constantly referred to himself in the third person.

After the election, he got a no-doubt well-paying job hawking Viagra. I’m sure it made his wife happy. There were those who said the nomination should have gone to her instead of him in the first place. She certainly had more charisma.

Elizabeth Dole did run in the 2000 primaries. In fact, the Republican field was even more crowded this time around than it was before. During that primary, I supported both Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes. By the time the Texas primary rolled around, both were out and George Bush pretty much had it wrapped.

John McCain ran in that primary as well. And he won in New Hampshire, just as he did this time. But he lost in South Carolina. McCain blamed his loss on campaign “dirty tricks” (similar to those he perpetrated on Romney in Florida). His meltdown following his loss did nothing to help his public image, and he lost big-time at the Republican convention, scoring one delegate to Bush’s 2038. Alan Keys, with two delegates, did better than McCain.

So in 2000, I had my first chance since Ronald Reagan to vote for a Republican candidate who, on the surface anyway, seemed to be a conservative. George Bush had done a good job in Texas; I didn’t see any reason why he couldn’t do a good job in Washington D.C. And he certainly was a better choice than Al Gore.

George the Second turned out to be conservative in some areas, in others, not so much. Conservatives were supposed to stand for smaller government. It is the Democrats who believe government to be the solution to all the country’s ills. Under W, government has grown at an unprecedented pace.

It’s true that 9/11 didn’t help. You can’t fight a war without spending money. But the country has managed to fight wars in the past, without creating new cabinet level positions to do so. It is my understanding that the Department of Defense (previously known as the Department of War) is charged with the responsibility of defending the nation. Remind me again why we need an entire new Cabinet level government bureaucracy to do what we already have an Army, Navy, and Air Force to do?

Please tell me how making the TSA civilian employees of the U.S. Government did anything to improve airport security? Job security, yes. And now we have thousands of new government employees on the payroll.

And then there is No Child Left Behind, which hugely expanded the budget of the Department of Education. And the prescription drug bill. And others.

The example set by the President was infectious; Congress went on a spending spree. Not a Democratic congress, mind you, but a Republican one. And the voters turned them out. Now we are faced with a Democratic Party that can creditably lay claim to being a party of fiscal responsibility. Not that they truly are, of course, but they can point to a budget that was balanced under Bill Clinton (not due to his own efforts, but it was on his watch), and is now running deficits of $400 billion plus, not all by any means due to the ongoing war against radical Islam.

Still, George was a better choice than Kerry. And he was conservative on many issues that matter to me.

Now we have John McCain. And once again I am being told to hold my nose. He’s better than Hillary or Obama, so I am told. Does anyone see a pattern here?

John McCain. Champion of Free Speech. Except when it comes to political free speech. And if the first amendment protects any sort of free speech, certainly it protects political free speech. Not so, according to McCain. John McCain claims he will nominate conservative Supreme Court justices if elected. Really? Even if they might overturn McCain-Feingold?

John McCain. Champion of workers everywhere. Particularly those which are undocumented. McCain now says he is in favor of closing the border. Interesting. Why is this not considered a flip-flop? How can we believe him on this issue when the head of his “Hispanic Outreach” program is none other than Juan Hernandez, a man holding dual American and Mexican citizenship, who was the head of Mexico’s Office of Mexicans Living Outside Mexico under Vicente Fox? A man who is on record as saying that the North American southwest is “not two countries; it’s just a region.” A man who has consistently argued against building a fence on the border, who insists the border needs to remain wide open so that illegal immigrants can easily cross into the United States? A man who believes that all Hispanics in the U.S. are Mexicans, even those who are citizens of the United States? A man, who has said, with regard to Mexican immigrants in the U.S., “I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think ‘Mexico first’”?

And I am supposed to believe that John McCain has had a genuine change of heart regarding stopping illegal immigration and dumping the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill? Not.

John McCain. The man who evidently, based on statements he made to Mitt Romney during the Reagan Library Republican debate, believes that if you haven’t served in the military, then you can’t be a leader? Reality check. Not everyone can serve in the military. Guess all you folks that haven’t served are for all time relegated to the status of “manager”. This would, I suppose, include people such as Lee Iacocca, who didn’t serve because he suffered from rheumatic fever as a child; or Franklin Roosevelt, who couldn’t serve because he suffered from polio.

How about Ronald Reagan? Was it his time in the military that made him a leader, time he spent doing pretty much exactly the same thing he had done as a civilian, making movies? What if he had been 4-F instead, which he could have been; he was classified for limited service as it was due to nearsightedness, excluding him from overseas service. Would he then still have been a leader? Or only a manager?

John McCain. The man who claims he will appoint conservative judges in the mold of Alito and Roberts. Really? How exactly will he do that? Whomever he nominates will have to get past a judicial committee headed by Democrats, and get a majority vote from a Democrat majority congress. Figure the odds. Oh, he might nominate one, knowing he will never pass muster. And then, regretfully he will have to “settle” for someone the Democrats will approve of. The Dems are not going to allow someone on the court that might be the swing vote to overturn Roe v Wade. And McCain isn’t going to nominate someone who might overturn McCain-Feingold. You would have to believe that the Republicans are also going to regain the Senate this election. While we are at it, why not fantasize about regaining the House as well?

John McCain. The man who criticized Mitt Romney as supposedly wanting to set “timetables and benchmarks” to pull the troops out of Iraq. The man who on 5 Feb 2006 introduced a resolution setting eleven conditions which the Iraqi government would need to meet in order to retain American support. Benchmarks? Timetables? What would failure “to retain American support” entail? Pulling the troops out?

But I guess that setting “conditions” is ok; it’s the words “benchmarks” and “timetables” that are a political no-no, according to McCain in his televised debates. These are code words for “cut and run”. “Conditions” is a different word, and so, somehow different.

John McCain. Bipartisan? A uniter not a divider? Able to work with Democrats? Keep this in mind. In every case where John McCain has “reached across the aisle” and cosponsored bills with the Democrats, the results have not been conservative in nature. His presence as the only Republican in the “Keating Five” scandal is a piece of “bipartisanship” that, curiously, has not been brought up in this campaign.

In 1999, he was on record as saying that he did not support overturning Roe v Wade, specifically "...in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations." This sounds quite a bit like the quote his campaign likes to use against Mitt Romney from his campaign against Kennedy in 1994, and again from his campaign for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002. In a November 2006 interview, McCain stated that he was in favor of a constitutional amendment banning abortions except in the case of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother was in danger. He then further stated that, this being unlikely, he supported the overturning of Roe v Wade, so that the issue could be left up to the individual states. This sounds a lot like Romney’s position. But Romney is a “flip-flopper” on this issue. Somehow, McCain is not.

Of course, we mustn’t forget his participation in the “gang of fourteen”, his desire to shut down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, his votes against Bush’s tax cuts which he characterized (in Democrat terms) as “tax cuts for the rich”, his vote against drilling for oil in ANWAR, his discussions with the Democrats on leaving the party in 2001 (Jeffers beat him to the punch), and his serious consideration in 2004 to get on the ticket with John Kerry as his VP.

If McCain somehow manages to lose the Republican nomination, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the eventual Democratic winner to select him for a running mate. And for McCain to accept.

And then there is his apparent assault on capitalism itself during the debates, where he slung around the word “profit” as if it were an epitaph; rhetoric that would have seemed quite at home in the Democratic debates for president. Indeed, should Huckabee somehow win the nomination, expect the Democratic nominee to use the same language against him in the national elections.

I could go on, but this is supposed to be a column, not a novel.

My point is this: how is getting screwed by someone because he is a Republican somehow better than getting screwed by someone who is a Democrat? I’m still screwed. Is it supposed to be more palatable because the person doing the screwing is a member of “my” party rather than a different one?

I am supposed to hold my nose and vote for McCain because at least he is strong on the war? Well so is Mitt. I am supposed to vote for McCain because he was a POW once and suffered at the hands of our enemies? This is supposed to make him a better leader exactly how? Am I to vote for him because something happened to him 40 years ago that he had no control over? Many others were held prisoner during the Vietnam War. Many others were equally tortured. Does this make them all leaders, and better qualified to serve as Commander-in-Chief than those who have endured less?

I thank McCain for his service. That he suffered for his country is undeniable. I certainly would not want to experience what he did. That doesn’t automatically make him the only one for the job. Didn’t we put this one to rest last time with Kerry and his three Purple Hearts?

How strong does a president need to be to fight the war anyway? Seems to me he only has to have the commitment to do so; his military leaders can take it from there. He needs to have the leadership to provide direction, and to keep the supplies flowing so the military can do its job. What would McCain propose; micromanaging the war from the White House? That worked so well in Vietnam, when Johnson was president.

But then again, McCain has a burning desire to be Commander-In-Chief. Not President; Commander-In-Chief. There is a difference. Both McCain’s father and grandfather were four-star naval Admirals. McCain followed in their footsteps, reluctantly, attending Annapolis and finishing near the bottom of his class. Unlike his father and grandfather, McCain retired from the Navy as a Captain (O6), a distinguished rank to be sure, but not a four-star admiral. There is nothing wrong with that; making O6 is by no means to be considered a failed career. Only about two percent of those who enter military service as officers attain that rank. His father and grandfather were the first in U.S. history to achieve back to back O10 status. Three in a row would certainly be a hat trick.

But Commander-In-Chief, that “outranks” them both. McCain uses that word a lot. He seems to really like the way it sounds.

To give him credit, there are issues where McCain is conservative. He is a strong supporter of Israel. This is important to me. He supports the inclusion of Intelligent Design in school text books, under the premise that “all points of view” should be available to students. Not a huge issue with me, but still, a conservative position. He has criticized his party on the “earmarking” issue, stating “So why has my party, the party of small government, lately adopted the practices of our opponents who believe the bigger the government the better? I'm afraid it's because at times we value our incumbency more than our principle.” This is something I would like to see ended.

But as nice as these things are, they don’t outweigh the negatives. John McCain is an American Hero. Fine. But that was 40 years ago. What has he done for me lately? McCain-Feingold (campaign finance reform – restrictions on free speech). McCain-Kennedy (amnesty for illegal aliens). McCain-Kennedy-Edwards (trial lawyer’s bill of rights). McCain-Lieberman (global warming legislation – carbon taxes). Etc, etc, etc.

It seems that, at least lately, when McCain does something that agrees with the Party (or Conservatism) it is entirely accidental. This suggests a new title for him. McCain: the accidental Conservative.

But once again, I am supposed to hold my nose and vote for the “lesser of two evils.” Tell me. If Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin were both running for president, one on the Republican ticket, one on the Democratic ticket, which one would you consider the lesser of two evils? Should I support Hitler because, at least he has a conservative position on illegal immigration? Stalin, because at least he is conservative when it comes to supporting the war effort? If George Washington were also running, should I ignore him because he isn’t running on a major party ticket, but instead as a Libertarian or Independent? Do I have to vote for Hitler or Stalin? Perhaps I should just stay home and hope for the best.

Dick Morris says that the polls show that the Republican Party has lurched to the left. If so, where does that leave Conservatives like me? Oh that’s right. We are supposed to just hold our nose and suck it up. I think otherwise. If the Party has indeed taken a turn to the left, perhaps it is time for Conservatives to form a new party.

Newt Gingrich said as much recently at CPAC, stating that “it is time for the conservative movement to separate itself from the Republican Party.”

Ronald Reagan once said that he didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him. With the nomination of John McCain for President, the Republican Party will have left me, at least for this election.