John McCain’s physical courage is indisputable. The abuse that he (and other POWs) suffered in North Vietnam is the stuff of legend. Resisting the enemy under such brutal conditions—and keeping faith with his fellow prisoners—left no doubt about Mr. McCain’s ability to endure and triumph against long odds.
Unfortunately, Senator McCain’s political courage remains in doubt. Over the past two decades, he’s demonstrated an unfortunate willingness to cross the aisle, supporting or sponsoring Democratic legislation that runs counter to the interests of his country, and his own party. McCain-Feingold, anyone? McCain-Kennedy? McCain-Lieberman? Opposition to the Bush tax cuts and judicial nominees. And this man is supposed to “unite” the conservative base?
Mr. McCain also has a nasty habit of throwing people under the bus to suit his various whims. A couple of years ago, he torpedoed the career of an exceptionally able military leader, General Gregory “Speedy” Martin. Selected as the first Air Force officer to lead
U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), Martin’s nomination was scuttled by McCain, who cited the general’s “involvement” in a Boeing proposal to lease refueling planes to the Air Force.
General Martin was never sanctioned or disciplined in the matter, although a civilian Air Force contracting official was sentenced to jail, for accepting a job offer from Boeing. But, because Martin’s name appeared in a few e-mails (out of thousands collected by McCain’s staff), that was enough to destroy his nomination, and elevate another Navy Admiral to the PACOM post. The withdrawal of Martin's name for the position was enthusiastically supported from McCain, the retired-Navy-Captain-turned-U.S. Senator, and the son of a former CINCPAC.
McCain’s fecklessness was also evident in Cincinnati, where he rushed to “repudiate” remarks by Bill Cunningham, a local talk show host who is also syndicated nationally. Warming up the audience before McCain appeared, Cunningham used Obama’s middle name (Hussein) in three references to the Illinois Senator. Cunningham also described the Senator as “the product of Chicago-Daley” mob.
Wow. Really slanderous stuff there. Never mind that a Democratic politician—former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerry—was the first to make hay of Obama’s Muslim roots and middle name. Or that any Democratic candidate from Illinois needs the support of the Chicago-Daley machine (or what’s left of it) to get ahead.
For good measure, Mr. Cunningham also made reference to Obama’s ties to Tony Rezko, a Chicago land developer facing trial on extortion and public corruption charges. Mr. Rezko, a prominent Obama supporter, participated in a controversial real estate deal with the Senator, buying a lot adjacent to Obama's South Side mansion on the same day that the Senator and his wife purchased their home.
Obama has not been accused of wrong-doing in his ties to Rezko. But the Chicago developer also has ties to other shady characters, including a British-Iraqi billionaire who loaned Rezko millions in the weeks before the land deal—money that (apparently) allowed Rezko’s wife to buy the lot next to Obama’s home. Portions of the lot were later sold to the Obamas, increasing the value of their property. Did we mention that the Senator and his wife acquired their property at $300,000 below the asking price?
Ties between Rezko and the British financier, Nadhmi Auchi, were exposed earlier this week by the U.K. Times. The London paper notes that Rezko was practically insolvent at the time of the loan; why was Auchi (a former associate of Saddam Hussein), so anxious to lend Rezko money, when the Chicago developer already owed him $27 million? Was Auchi—who has a history of corruption and influence-peddling in Europe—looking to exploit Rezko’s ties to Obama, already a rising star in Democratic politics?
Those are legitimate questions in a presidential campaign. And Mr. Cunningham had every right to ask about the connection between Barack Obama and Tony Rezko—God knows the U.S. national media has no interest in such matters. In fact, Bill Cunningham’s remarks one of the few times that the Rezko matter has surfaced on the campaign trail.
But, Senator McCain would have none of that. After his little stump speech, McCain made a beeline to the assembled press corps, and quickly disavowed Bill Cunningham’s remarks. As reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer:
After his campaign rally in Cincinnati today, Republican presidential candidate John McCain apologized for remarks by conservative WLW talk show host Bill Cunningham that McCain said he thought were offensive to Democratic candidate Barack Obama.
"I take responsibility and I repudiate what he said," McCain told reporters after the rally.
Cunningham came out on stage to whip up the crowd as he often does at Republican campaign events in Cincinnati.He repeatedly referred to Obama using his middle name -- Hussein -- and said that Obama was a product of the "Chicago-Daley mob.'' McCain was not on stage when these remarks were made but was told of them later.
"I will not tolerate anything in this campaign that denigrates either Sen. Obama or Sen. (Hillary) Clinton,'' McCain said.
Cunningham said later that he stood by his comments at the rally. He told his listeners: ‘”I’ve had it with McCain. I’m going to throw my support to Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
Cunningham, a conservative Republican who also hosts a Sunday night syndicated radio show, said he was asked Monday “by a McCain operative” to introduce the Republican front-runner at Memorial Hall.
He spoke to the crowd and left, without meeting or speaking to the candidate, because he had to do his WLW-AM talk show at 12:30 p.m.
Here’s a little newsflash for Mr. McCain: what Bill Cunningham said about Barack Obama is positively tame, compared to what Moveon.org and other Democratic attack dogs will say about the Arizona Senator. Last week’s New York Times article about McCain’s “inappropriate” relationship with a female lobbyist was merely the opening salvo. George Soros and his minions will spend whatever it takes to sully McCain and his reputation.
The Senator's desire for a “clean” campaign is laudable, but it’s also hopelessly naïve. Political contests devoid of mud-slinging and personal attacks disappeared with the Edsel and 10-cent hamburgers. While the Senator has promised not to denigrate his Democratic opponents, we don’t recall a similar pledge from Hillary Clinton, Mr. Obama or the Democratic attack machine.
As for Mr. Cunningham, he’s merely the latest, convenient “scalp” in John McCain’s political career. He now joins General Martin (and countless others) who were willingly sacrificed for the cause. It’s getting a bit crowded under the bus.