Friday, April 11, 2008


As just one sign of how bad things can go at the end of the year, even after seven years of George W. Bush, the Republicans are running neck to neck with Democrats for the 2008 vote.

Republican candidate John McCain favors continuing a war 65% of Americans oppose, and still he is at least as viable a Presidential candidate as Democrats Clinton or Obama.

In a recent poll in New York, voters favored a John McCain/Condileeza Rice ticket over a Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton ticket 49% vs 46%.

What this factoid appears to suggest is that both Democrats together can't match the Republican nominee plus somebody tight with the present administration, however loathed we say it is.

On potentially crucial issues like gay rights, the death penalty, education, and campaign reform, the three candidates are hard to distinguish.

On health care, supposedly a key issue in 2008, the candidate offering the most health coverage to the most Americans is running third, so far.

On Iraq, McCain proposes no change in policy, famously estimating that that war, which the US unarguably started for no true or just reason, could continue for another 100 years.

On the use of torture or extreme interrogation techniques, McCain seems to be moving away from his stance three years ago, when he disagreed with the White House over torture. (Because the US does not regard detainees in the war on terror to be military combatants, the Bush Administration does not regard Geneva Conventions against torture and humiliation of prisoners as applicable.) A couple of months ago, however, McCain endorsed the Army Field Manual standards on “enhanced interrogation techniques,” formerly proposed by Donald Rumsfeld.

McCain is perhaps the best Republican nominee for President in 44 years. Still, one has to wonder how someone who has managed to distance himself so little from the present unpopular President, even creeping closer to Bush’s worst policies over the past three years, has managed to escape guilt by association with GWB, as Gore once faced and Clinton still faces over WJC’s publicly disgraced Presidency.

Perhaps we can expect a little less self-righteousness from the right about the sanctity of marriage and religious values—since Clinton and Obama have been married just once to McCain’s twice.

Further, McCain, nominally a Christian, says he has never been “born again” and was never baptized, though he sometimes attends a Baptist church in his home state of Arizona.

I doubt the good Christian Republicans will see these as the selling points I do. All the same, Reagan’s dysfunctional family life and lack of even church attendance did nothing to diminish his allure for the religious right in the 1980s.

Until the US media stop soft-soaping their analyses of war hero McCain, and lighten up on their coverage of Obama’s patriotism and Clinton’s views on Monica Lewinsky, both inane considerations at this point, we can expect nothing to change in America, in Iraq, and in countless interrogation centers across the world in our lifetimes.

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