09/24/2006 08:38 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

John McCain, the Straight Torture Express, And the Moral Price of Ambition

The misnomered "compromise" on torture,
which is a 90% ratification of the Bush and
Cheney torture policy, and a 100% abdication
of the responsiblity of Congress, is barely worth an itemized breakdown
of deficiencies.

It is not a compromise. It is a ratification. Let
us hope that the coming week brings an outcry
from military and retired military leaders who
are appalled by this.

John McCain's outrage, or John McCain's moral
tragedy, is Shakespearean in magnitude.

"Who doth ambition shun..."

In 2000, the partisans pushing Bush slandered
even McCain's military heroism, slandered even
McCain's wife, slandered the essence of what
McCain stood for.

Who doth ambition shun. By 2004 McCain
was maneuvering for the support of those
who slandered him. Shamefully, he issued
only the tamest comments when John Kerry's
heroism was similarly slandered.

In 2000, MCain stood for religious and political
tolerance, speaking out against the politics of
intolerance, while young men and women stood
in the audience gazing at McCain with genuine

Who doth ambition shun.

By 2008, those young men and women will
be gone from those audiences, the halo of
genuine admiration having disappeared, replaced by the hacks of "win at
all costs" Republicanism and the ideologues of the far right, who's
favor McCain now sadly solicits.

Gone are the compelling moral calls for religious tolerance, gone with
the wind, in McCain's new solicitations and maneuverings
for support of those he once called intolerant.

In 2000, McCain spoke of integrity, honor and
reform in politics.

Who doth ambition shun.

By 2006, McCain political action committee is
donating huge sums of money to finance the
upcoming smear and slander campaign that
the Republican Committees are launching
against Democrats.

Honor and integrity have yielded to dirt and
smear. The words remain the same, but the
McCain money finances the mud, and the
McCain courage in fighting for honor in politics is gone with the wind

Who doth ambition shun.

Now, shamefully, sadly, pathetically, it is

The Straight Talk Express has fallen off the
tracks. The Straight Torture Express is
leaving the station. Even my eightysomething
mother commented, after watching McCain
on television on Sunday, that McCain's body
language sugggested a man uncomfortable
with himself.

I didn't watch it.

I couldn't bear to.

This is too much the outrage, and much too

Who doth ambition shun.

The advocate of religious tolerance, paying
homage and virtually grovelling to the same forces he once called

The advocate of integrity, honor, reform, using
his dough to pay for dirt, smear and slander
in campaign commercials financed by money
raised for his Straight Talk Express.

And now it's torture. Yet another maneuver
for a cause that is lesser than himself, the
triangulations around torture, in the pursuit
of ambition, with the surrender of principle,
leaving the odious stench of opportunism in
service to acts the rest of the world will
consider violations of Geneva.

The Straight Talk Express is gone.

The Straight Torture Express has arrived.

It is the moral cost of ambition.

Someday, somewhere, in some town in New
Hampshire, John McCain will speak of honor
and integrity, and look into audience for those
young men and women full of hope and
admiration who were there for him, in New
Hampshire, in 2000.

And they will be gone, replaced by some
hustling Republican consultant, writing his
talking points on torture.