By now, McCain's "green speech" has been widely praised as one of the funniest half-hours of television since Arrested Development was canceled. The speech aimed to turn Obama's "Change We Can Believe In" slogan into a surprise Mac Attack by inserting the words "That's Not" at the beginning of it. As if this wasn't exciting enough, McCain proceeded to deliver the speech with all the energy and eloquence of Frankenstein on barbiturates -- pausing awkwardly after each declaration to offer a snicker and yellowed smile, as if to ask the adoring crowd of several hundred, "wasn't that capital?" It was at once painful and delightful to behold. Painful, because we have to sit through five more months of his awkward cadence. Delightful, because it's already obvious just how badly McCain's efforts to brand himself as the "change" candidate are going to fail. That is, unless THESE are the kind of changes he's talking about:
1. Excruciating Hypocrisy - McCain delivered the green speech near New Orleans, and in it, he took the Bush administration to task for their failure to respond to Katrina. Do you know where John McCain was when Katrina made landfall? He was standing on a tarmac in Arizona, receiving a birthday cake from his friend George W. Bush. That's not change we can believe in.
2. Lack of Self-Control - Having a temper is one thing. But there's a difference between blowing your stack behind closed doors and McCain's tendency to say the wrong thing in front of the wrong people. Whether it's the childish "bomb Iran" Beach Boys cover, the "100 years is fine with me" gaffe, calling his wife a "c--t" in front of reporters, threatening other legislators with violence, or that infamous Chelsea Clinton joke he made at a GOP fundraiser -- McCain has a rare talent for putting his foot in his mouth near an open mic. That's definitely not change we can believe in.
3. Lack of Support for Our Troops - McCain knows firsthand the sacrifices made by our troops and their families, yet he won't he support the G.I. Bill -- which was co-sponsored by his Republican ally, John Warner, and which would dramatically expand educational benefits for our soldiers. And why doesn't he support it? Because the benefits are so good, the military is worried that too many soldiers will leave active duty to get their degrees. So there you have it -- John McCain's policy on supporting our men and women in uniform: "They deserve the very best, just as long as it's not TOO good -- and assuming we don't have to raise taxes to pay for it." That sure as hell ain't change we can believe in.
4. Coziness with Lobbyists - We all know that McCain likes to tout himself as a "maverick." But the truth is, McCain was forced to reinvent himself as a "maverick" because he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He was one of five Senators investigated for corruption in the Keating scandal of 1989, in which it was alleged that (in return for money and other favors) McCain sought to have the government ease off its investigation of savings and loan chairman Charles Keating. You'd think he would've learned from this political near-death experience, but as we saw in his snuggly friendship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, and the recent purging of lobbyists from his campaign (there are still over 100 of them running it), he's learned nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, you're damn right that's not change we can believe in.
5. An Antiquated World View - It's not the age of McCain's body that troubles me -- it's the age of his ideas. Like George W. Bush, he operates from a belief that America is infallible, that might makes right, and that anyone who doesn't agree with us is not only wrong - but our enemy. Here at home, he believes in the same trickle down economic policies that have been failing the middle class and escalating our national debt since the early 1980's. That IS change we can believe in, but only if it's Opposites Day.
6. Cowardice - No one can ever take away the heroic truth that John McCain sat in a cell for five torturous years on behalf his country. He was a brave young man. But somewhere between Hanoi and Washington, that brave young man became an old pandering coward. For eight years, we've watched McCain suckle the teat of his political idol, George W. Bush. Especially sickening, given the fact that Bush is the same man who tried to destroy McCain's family in the 2000 primaries. The same man who went after his daughter. And yet, because it was politically convenient to do so, John McCain threw his arms around Bush and never let go. Threw his arms around a man he didn't even vote for. A man he secretly hated with a passion he scarcely knew he was capable of. To some, that merely makes John McCain a ruthless opportunist or a terrible father. In my eyes, it makes him a coward. How can a man who won't even stand up for his family stand up for our country? How can a man who was too afraid to stand his ground against a joke like Bush stand his ground against brutal dictators? My fellow Americans...
That's not change we can believe in.