Wednesday, February 27, 2008

McCain’s Political "Courage"

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 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.


Nitpicker said...

I love that you accuse McCain of torpedoing an Air Force officer's career over innuendo, but then go on to suggest Obama did something wrong by getting a good deal on a house.

If you actually look at that deal, Obama made three offers on the property, moving up each time to the eventual price of $1.65 million. It's true that this was $300,000 less than the asking price, but, at that price range, which means he negotiated for a rate 15% lower than the asked price--a concept which one would think supposed free market conservatives would appreciate. Also, no one who ever flings this crap Obama's way ever bothers to point out that Obama outbid another prospective buyer, which would suggest the problem wasn't with Obama, but with an initially too-high asking price.

Nitpicker said...

I should also add that in 2003 Rezko organized a fundraiser for George W. Bush' re-election which brought in $3.5 million, as well as donating $6,000 to the president's campaign (compared to the $2500 his wife donated to Obama's campaigns over the course of 8 years). This would seem to make him a much more "prominent supporter" of Bush than he ever was of Obama's.

section9 said...

What Cunningham said was dumb. You have a better case about McCain and the Air Force officer, but the Cunningham remarks had no place in an adult campaign.

Obama will be defeated by a relentless campaign on substance, not a constant reiteration of his middle name.

Unknown said...

Nitpicker--(Nice handle, BTW). My concerns about Obama have nothing to do with his acumen in real estate. If he can swing a good deal on his mansion, more power to him.

Fact is, the relationship between Rezko and Obama dates back more than a decade, and no one has (yet) examined any legal work that the Senator (as a private attorney) may have performed for the developer's various projects. What we're beginning to learn is that Mr. Rezko was heavily in debt at the time of that real estate deal.

And who provided the financing that (apparently) allowed Mrs. Rezko, with an annual salary of less than 40K, to swing the loan for that lot--which just so happened to be next door to Mr. Obama's mansion. None other than that British finaicier, the same guy who already "owned" Rezko, to the tune of at least $27 million.

It's rather curious that the same financier would keep loaning Rezko money, and even offer to forgive those staggering, past-due loans, in exchange for a share of that 62-acre project that may prove as unsuccessful as Rezko's other ventures.

What did the financier have to gain? Well, in 2005, GWB had already been re-elected, and there are no indications that Rezko ever had any relationship with the president that rivaled his long-term dealings with Mr. Obama. We already known that the British-Iraqi billionaire collects politicians like stamps. And, in 2005, Obama was already a rising star in Democratic politics. As we observed in the post, was this a case of Rezko's friend hedging his bets, or investing in a future political superstar. We still don't know the answer to that one.

None of this leads back to Senator Obama (at least not yet). But, Rezko's political ties seemed to interest that British financier. Remember all the pols who showed up at that Chicago function in his honor, including Barack Obama? And Mr. Rezko was certainly well-connected in Illinois political circles, mostly on the Democratic side.

You can't compare Rezko's one-time fund-raiser for Bush to his long-term relationship with Obama. And, unless I'm mistaken, Rezko never bought any property in Crawford, Texas, and then sold it to Mr. Bush

Unknown said...

Section 9--Mentioning Obama's middle name three times (over the course of a 20-minute warm-up) does not constitute a "constant reiteration." Some of Cunningham's comments could have been phrased better, but it marks one of the few times that Obama has been criticized on anything approaching substance.

An adult campaign is fine, but McCain is running a tremendous risk of letting his opponents--and the news media--define what he (and his surrogates) can/can't say on the campaign trail. The Senator's pledge to take the high road is fine, but I don't recall Mrs. Clinton, Senator Obama, or making a similar promise.

davod said...

Situational outrage is a term which comes to mind when thinking of McCain and politeness.

McCain is only taking the high road where Democrats are concerned. If we looked hard enough I bet you could find his paws all over some of the hit pieces on his Republican opponents.

And while we are at it, McCain's gentlemanly approach didn't get extended to opponents of the immigraton bill.

As far as Obama and murky ties are concerned, don't forget, the foreign financeier has links to Sadaam's regime (I would include his last name, but then I might get accused of trying to tie his eminence to Sadaam).

A pity some resourcefull reporter hasn't looked at the timing of Obama's initial repudiation of the Iraq War and any funds recieved or favors bestowed.

none said...

The conservatism of the past 20 years was the ideological result of the state of the nation during the 1970's. It was formed as a counter to the Cold War, massive social changes, misguided economic policies, etc.

The stimuli that created that conservative movement are not factors today. As a result, the movement that it spawned is also losing relevance among the electorate because it doesn't address modern problems.

None of this is to say that conservatism won't rise again in another form as response to future conditions, but for the time being it is dead as a movement because it isn't relevant to the current state of affairs.

In short, you guys are whining about how dare McCain actually show *Moderate* tendencies! Oh no!

Perhaps it is the conservative movement that is out of touch.

mannaka said...

Hey Spook86, do you think there might be a connection between Boeing losing the tanker contract to EADS today and McCain's attack on Boeing & Speedy a few years ago? Could it be that the AF acquisition community is a little pissed at McCain and is setting him up? I've already heard Obama & Clinton repeadedly blame the Republicans for all the jobs that've been "shipped" overseas during the last 7 1/2 years, and I'm just waiting to hear them jump on McCain for the fact that a $40 billion contract (& a ton of the jobs that go with it) is being handed over to Airbus. They could easily argue that, if it wasn't for McCain, the AF would already be flying domestic 767s instead of having to wait a few more years to fly imported Airbuses. With Speedy's strong roots in the AF acquisition community (having been the Principal Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and later the Commander of Air Force Materiel Command), I'm sure he still carries a lot of pull. Also, my understanding is that he's currently an adviser to John Edwards. Kind of an interesting circle, wouldn't you say?