Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Bennet Kelley Headshot

John McCain's Yellow Talk Express

Posted: Updated:

John McCain is a coward. We have heard countless invocations of Senator McCain's courage during his 1,966 days in captivity, but it is time for the Senator to be held accountable for his appalling lack of courage the past 1,966 days.

Had Senator McCain demonstrated even the faintest sliver of his past courage, he would not have reversed himself on issue after issue such as abortion, auto emission standards, campaign finance reform, closing Guantanamo Bay, estate taxes, expanding the GI Bill, global warming, immigration, off-shore drilling, Russian sanctions, tax cuts, teaching creationism, warrantless wiretapping, weapons systems and he has even reversed himself on his own legislation. Senator McCain's most grievous reversal, however, was on water-boarding which came a mere ninety days after he unequivocally declared that it was "a terrible and odious practice and should never be condoned by (the) U.S."

John McCain also is no great patriot. While trying to wrap himself in the flag through constant evocations of his military service and slogans such as "country first," former Captain McCain has totally ignored naval ethical cannons that prohibit dishonesty and require placing "loyalty to the Constitution, the laws and ethical principles above private gain."

McCain's first test as Republican nominee was his selection of a running mate who, given McCain's age and medical history (which he refuses to disclose), has a fair probability of becoming President before the end of his first term. Instead of selecting a candidate ready to step in without hesitation should that fateful day arrive, McCain not only selected the least vetted and least qualified running mate in modern history but also the most extreme candidate since Curtis LeMay (George Wallace's running mate in 1968 who pledged to bomb Vietnam "back into the stone age") who has a track record of abusing power.

Any confidence that McCain might have in this choice was undercut by the fact that the campaign lied about her record from day one and has sought to shield her from the media to avoid moments such as last week's ABC interview where Palin clearly had no clue about the Bush Doctrine. Even worse, despite being put on notice that many of Palin's claims were false (e.g., opposition to the "Bridge to Nowhere"'), the McCain campaign continues to peddle them as fact nonetheless.

The Declaration of Independence provides that "Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." John McCain knows that the American people do not and will not freely consent to a continuation of the ruinous policies of the past eight years, which is why his "McCain First" team insists that this campaign is not about issues. Instead, the McCain campaign views the consent of the governed as something to be snatched while they are distracted by a blizzard of lies and distortions that has been denounced by Democrats and Republicans alike.

The conservative St. Petersburg Times found that McCain's once vaunted "straight talk has become a toxic mix of lies and double-speak," The Conservative Voice has called McCain a "politically opportunistic liar," former supporter Andrew Sullivan found McCain's "actions and words in the last month [to be] despicable" and even Karl Rove - the Deacon of Deception - has stated that McCain's ads have gone too far. There is even a website featuring a running McCain Lie Counter (52 since May).

While on business in Canada last week, I overheard a couple talking incredulously about "lipstick on a pig-gate." I was quickly reminded of the 1968 Democratic convention protesters who shouted "the world is watching" to shame Mayor Daley for his police state tactics. While the world truly is watching this election with baited breath, there is no shaming the McCain campaign, however, because these are the same people who gave us "read my lips" and sold us "weapons of mass destruction." They simply believe in power and have little concern over whether it is held with the consent of the governed.

All during the Republican Convention, Senator McCain was heralded for his courage, heroism and character. But what type of hero believes that discussing "lipstick on a pig" is more important than the challenges that confront us (especially when he now admits that Senator Obama was not calling Governor Palin a pig)? Where is the courage or character in running a campaign fueled by lies?

The John Sidney McCain that emerged from Hanoi thirty-five years ago is certainly worthy of our respect, but the man who emerged from Minneapolis two weeks ago has only earned our contempt.