As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Honor Of John McCain

Man, this election is going to be like going up against a Klingon, with all of the recitations of honor. Only the man they're describing is in no way honorable.

First, the campaign finance update. The New York Times and the Washington Post move along the story today. The Times focuses on the fact that McCain benefited from the public system by having his ballot access fees in Ohio waived. This is pretty unequivocal and a clear instance of using public money to benefit himself, then dropping out when it didn't. The Post goes after the issue of the bank loan.

Sen. John McCain's campaign and a Bethesda bank strongly defended $4 million in loans yesterday, as Democrats questioned their legality and said that the way they were secured requires the Arizona Republican to abide by federal spending restrictions.

On Monday, the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the FEC arguing that the way the loans were structured -- by using the promise of federal matching funds as collateral -- requires McCain to remain in the system. McCain "secured a $4 million line of credit to keep his campaign afloat by using public financing as collateral. He should follow the law," said Howard Dean, the DNC chairman.

The reform organizations who you'd think would have a particular interest in this issue - I mean, this sets a horrible precedent that you can use the public system to your benefit and then drop out whenever you want, leaving taxpayers holding the bag - are still silent, and many campaign finance experts are saddened by this turn of events.

It goes too far to say that a number of these reform outfits are favoring the McCain Presidential candidacy. They are more, more than anything else, protecting themselves. To a fault, they have invested heavily in the McCain asset base: he has fought their fights, introduced their bills, promoted their regulatory agendas, helped them secure good press for this all. After so great a dependence on him, the costs of his diminished luster on reform issues are also theirs to pay.

It appears that these organizations are calculating that, by keeping their own counsel in the McCain matter, they will limit their costs. Saying nothing now, on the Presidential bank loan (and Gold raises other recent questions), serves to reduce visibility of the charges and, conceivably, to contain them, raising the chance that they will more simmer in the back pages than blaze, red-hot, on the front page.

The self-preservation from these good government groups, letting their publicity magnet get in the way of their reading of the law, is infuriating. But they rely on McCain's "honor".

In fact, McCain is so honorable that he's got a man indicted on 35 counts of fraud and money laundering on his leadership team. Indeed, McCain believes that Rick Renzi, who has vowed to remain in Congress while this transpires, should stay on with the campaign as well - or at least that it "doesn't matter" if he stays. The presumption of innocence notwithstanding, you'd think that whole "honor" thing would come into play when discussing someone with that many black marks against him.

In fact, McCain doesn't have much honor himself when it comes to these issues; he withheld documents while chairing a Senate Indian Affairs Committee investigation into the Abramoff mess, shielding powerful Republicans from the prospect of having their corrupt activities burst into the open.

And then there's the honorable man who warmed up the crowd for him yesterday in Cincinnati, a right-wing radio nut named Bill Cunningham. He went on a tirade with all sorts of smears against Barack Obama, which McCain "distanced himself from". Only he's been all aboard the smear train at several points in his public life, including in this campaign, where he's laughed at questions like "How do we beat the bitch," in reference to Hillary Clinton. Not only that, McCain claimed to have never met Cunningham, but Cunningham says otherwise, and while he's not really to be believed, there's a history of lying on all sides here.

So the "honor" talk around McCain is really execrable, and hollow, and almost totally meaningless. Not that it'll stop.

UPDATE: There is, of course, a lot of honor in being America's worst Senator for children.

CDF ranked members on 10 votes affecting children:

1. Increase minimum wage (H.R. 2)
2. Increase funding for children with disabilities (S. Con. Res. 21)
3. Protect children from unsafe medications (S. 1082)
4. 2008 Budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 21)
5. SCHIP Reauthorization (H.R. 976)
6. College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669)
7. SCHIP (H.R. 976 - motion to concur)
8. DREAM Act (S. 2205)
9. Funding child health and education (H.R. 3043)
10. Improving Head Start programs (H.R. 1429)

McCain has missed 57 percent of Senate votes this session, being absent or voting “present” for 8 out of 10 children-related votes. McCain voted “yes” to increase the minimum wage; his only other vote was voting “no” on SCHIP reauthorization on Aug. 2, 2007.

It would be nice if this little stat became just as ubiquitous as the "Obama is the most liberal member of the Senate" blurb. John "Worst Senator for Children" McCain ought to be his name. Democrats who find their way onto television, take note.

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