Wednesday, January 16, 2008
McCain's "Straight Talk" Is Media Fiction
Here we go again.
John McCain’s “straight talk express” is miraculously out of the ditch and back on the road to the White House, thanks primarily to liberal and moderate non-Republican voters in New Hampshire, who apparently can’t resist the “straight talk” Kool-Aid dispensed by McCain and served by sympathetic members of mainstream media.
Mainstream media’s unwillingness to challenge McCain’s veracity was on full display in New Hampshire. Consider for example just a few of the many questionable but unchallenged statements made by McCain in debates and campaign appearances in recent weeks.
When asked why he was one of only two Republican senators who voted against the Bush tax cuts, McCain said he voted “no” because the tax cuts were not accompanied by corresponding spending reductions . He went on to say he was proud of his record as a tax-cutting foot-soldier in the “Reagan Revolution,” voting “yes” on Reagan’s tax cuts in the 1980s because they were balanced with spending cuts.
For McCain to say that Reagan’s tax cuts were offset by spending cuts is a whopper of considerable proportions. Any honest assessment of Reagan’s management of taxes and spending would conclude that both spending and deficits increased dramatically throughout Reagan’s two terms. And it was clear to everyone from the start that Reagan believed tax cuts would eventually increase revenues enough to offset government growth. In fact, Reagan was the first president to adopt supply-side economics and Bush’s tax cuts were a mirror image of Reagan’s approach. McCain’s position on the Bush tax cuts is clearly a flip-flop from his previous position and more in line with the “pay-go” philosophy of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid than it is with Reagan and Bush.
On the foreign policy front, McCain deserves credit for being right on the surge in Iraq but he shouldn’t be allowed to take sole credit for what is ultimately a George Bush policy promoted and supported by nearly every other Republican in Congress and every one of McCain’s primary competitors for the Republican nomination. And he certainly should be held accountable for channeling John Kerry when he makes the oft-repeated claim that “I know how to get Osama Bin Laden and I will get him,” implying that the only reason the best military and intelligence assets in the history of the world haven’t found Bin Laden is that John McCain doesn’t occupy the White House. It’s an example of McCain’s unbridled ego and an implicit defamation of President Bush and the military. It should be challenged every time it passes McCain’s lips.
To prove his bona fides as a change agent, McCain often states that he led the charge to pass the line item veto, assuring voters that he would use it to veto every pork barrel bill that comes across his desk as president. That’s quite an interesting fantasy given the fact that the president has no authority to exercise a line item veto and likely never will.
And of course, with McCain there’s always the need to pretend that he is on the right side of the illegal immigration debate, despite the fact that he and Ted Kennedy were the co-sponsors and primary advocates for last year’s failed legislation that would have granted amnesty to more than ten million illegal immigrants. McCain tries to deflect the issue by saying he heard the resounding public rejection of his legislation and now understands the need to secure the borders first before dealing with the millions of illegal immigrants already here.
That change in priorities would be a concession in the right direction, but how can anyone believe McCain is truly converted when he continues to claim “I have never ever supported amnesty and never will?” McCain justifies this supposed “straight talk” by claiming his recent proposal was not technically amnesty because it required that illegal immigrants purchase American citizenship for the relatively modest sum of five thousand dollars—an amount that would likely be paid by illegal employers who would find it a good investment to retain cheap labor.
His “truth by technicality” argument brings to mind Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” claim. If what the McCain-Kennedy bill would have provided isn’t amnesty, Webster should change the definition.
And once the border is secure what would McCain do with the millions of illegal immigrants already here? Good luck trying to find that out from mainstream media. They know better than to aggressively pursue that question because they know the answer—amnesty—would be very unpopular.
That’s why mainstream media will do everything it can to preserve the fiction that McCain is the “straight talk” candidate. A little honesty might put their favorite Republican candidate’s “straight talk express” back in the ditch and off the road to the White House.