Tag Archives: John McCain

McCain Complains about ‘Witch Hunts’

It’s quite ironic for a former PoW who himself had been tortured, but presidential campaign loser John McCain is actually complaining about the prospect of Obama holding even the ‘Bush Six’, the lawyers who redefined torture into legality, to account:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned Thursday that any attempt by the Obama administration to prosecute the Bush-era lawyers who wrote memos signing off on waterboarding would start a “witch hunt.”

“If you criminalize legal advice, which is basically what they’re going to do, then it has a terribly chilling effect on any kind of advice and counsel that the president might receive,” McCain said during an interview on CBS’s “Early Show.”

The former GOP presidential nominee and POW supported Obama’s decision to end the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation” techniques but insisted that those who gave legal advice should not be prosecuted because they were “sworn to do their duty to the best of their ability.”

It’s a ridiculous, partisan claim to make. ‘Doing their duty to the best of their ability’ can’t possibly include twisting the law to enable the basest cruelty and inhumanity, merely because those even higher up say so.

But is Obama once again cold on the idea? For the sake of keeping the United States a ‘nation of laws’, we can only hope not.

Time For Some Campaignin’

The election may be over, but I just couldn’t resist reposting this animation on this blog.

Yes, He Did

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our Founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states; we are and always will be the United States of America.

It’s the answer that — that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

(full transcript here)

It’s fascinating to see the transformation in this man’s standing since my first blog post about him in January:

If Obama wins anyway, he’s at least going to have to give a convincing reason why, which is as it should be.

Then in March (after his defining speech on race):

Despite Obama’s inexperience (which would be far less of an issue with Richardson on the ticket), I can’t help but wonder if Richardson is right in saying that as the disasters of Bush’s economic policies start to bite America (as they and his foreign policies engulf the world), and people use race to start looking for scapegoats, if Obama isn’t the candidate needed to bring the country back to its senses.

And as his platform started to coalesce in May:

And by lumping Bush and McCain together, he paints McCain as the heir to Bush; noone but noone wants that.

But particularly after a highly successful Democratic National Convention in August:

He left the criticisms of the campaign fundamentally addressed and defused, and set up the general election on his terms, whilst attacking McCain without losing the dignity which has defined his campaign. He gave up power on national television to prove he hadn’t been consumed by his own celebrity, and demonstrated a Veep in the wings who can actually get his promise of change enacted. This is what it’s supposed to be about.

Right the way through to the presidential debates:

out of the two of them only Obama was behaving in a presidential manner. McCain was rude, aggressive, dismissive, and in an election dominated (even this week) by ‘change’ and the need for it, came across as a throwback almost to another era.

Was this in the bag for Obama from the start? No. But his, Dean’s, Axelrod’s and Plouffe’s 50 state strategy paid dividends, particularly with so much money, leaving them able to take the fight to cash-strapped McCain’s home turf, and keep him permanently on the defensive. The huge voter registration drives to fed off Hillary Clinton in the primaries also had a lasting impact in states like Nevada, as did learning lessons quickly and early (the Wright affair). And remaining calm in a crisis (the ‘lipstick on a pig’ incident with Palin, not to mention the economic meltdown) convinced wary voters his temperament was sound; his intellect never having been in doubt. Colin Powell calls him a ‘transformational figure’, and I think that became a view shared by a simple majority of the electorate too – particularly the young, who were also engaged by his use of the internet as a fundraising and campaign tool, as pioneered by party boss Howard Dean.

Now he’s president-elect, what do I think? I think there’ll be some re-running of the partisan battles which marred the first Clinton administration, although Obama’s pick of Rahm Emanuel as Chief-of-Staff suggests a pragmatic ruthlessness in developing a White House team to hit the ground running with in late January, which should have him in a much stronger position than Clinton in 1993. Will he disillusion core supporters by prioritising the economic crisis ahead of push-button issues like DOMA repeal? Will he piss off our allies by not abandoning the hated missile defence shield (Medvedev is making it very difficult for him to follow his likely instincts)? It’s too soon to to answer most of these questions, but his approach can already be gauged. In his first press conference as president-elect, when pressed for an opinion on Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s letter of congratulation (itself highly significant), he said:

Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, I believe, is unacceptable. And we have to mount a international effort to prevent that from happening. Iran’s support of terrorist organizations, I think, is something that has to cease.

I will be reviewing the letter from President Ahmadinejad. And we will respond appropriately. It’s only been three days since the election. Obviously how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something that we should, you know, simply do in a kneejerk fashion.

I think we’ve got to think it through.

Obviously? That hasn’t been the conventional political wisdom for almost a decade, and it’s a relief to hear. And Gerard Baker reminds us:

It’s in danger of becoming a tired cliché even before it has happened, but the significance of an African-American in the White House can never be overstated. Even casual observers of America know the terrible history of the black man in this country and it’s no secret how much race still divides the US today. What happened this week will be remembered for ever.

As Obama himself points out, he’s proven that the ideals and political system of the United States remain, despite 8 years of evidence to the contrary, fully functional. That he also now embodies the greatest achievement of the Civil Rights movement is also staggering in its implications, both for race relations and for ethnic minority young people in the US. Whether or not he can manage the expectations that come with such a historic role remains to be seen. That he’s sensitive to them is one thing, but he’ll have to come up with a truly new politics not to risk being undermined by them.

McCain Concedes Defeat

I found it telling that McCain’s crowd booed his congratulation of Obama. It was an odd contrast to see such grace in defeat from someone who ran such a wilfully ugly, negative, racist and deceitful campaign. It spoke volumes that his only speech from the heart, which seemed truly honest, took place after his defeat.

I urge all Americans — (applause) — I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that. (Cheers, applause.)

It is natural — it’s natural tonight to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again. We fought — we fought as hard as we could.

And though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours.


It was your failure in recklessly picking Sarah Palin without any vetting, it was your failure to curb your legendary temper in the debates, it was your failure in coming across as erratic when the economic crisis hit, it was your failure in setting loose the very robocalls you despised (and which destroyed you in 2000), against now President-Elect Obama, portraying him as something he was not. You have the ability to make limited amends by living up to your dignified words here, and truly working in a bi-partisan manner in the Senate to help Obama fix the awful problems afflicting America. Calling your opponent a ‘terrorist’ by insinuation or design might have been an effective election strategy throughout the last generation, but no longer.

This election the country decided the problems it was facing were too great and they needed someone who was prepared to move past such meannness. Hillary Clinton campaigned for the Democratic nomination because she believed cynicism would always trump Obama’s message that the old-style politics really could be overcome. In that she was like her even more cynical friend John McCain, who will go down in history as the first white man to lose to the first black nominee for president, who has now won on his very first attempt.

McCain/Palin Are Toast

(via Daily Kos)

Barack Obama to Win!

We are indeed on the verge of something that seems even more incredible the closer it gets, something more than a mere election. This is America, after all. It is a place that has seen great cruelty and hardship in its time. But it is also a place that yearns to believe naively in mornings rather than evenings, that cherishes dawns over dusks, that is not embarrassed by its own sense of destiny. In this unlikely mixed-race figure of Barack Obama, we will for a brief moment perhaps see a nation reimagined and a world of possibilities open up. For a brief moment at least.

As they have learnt to say in some of the most blighted parts of the world at some of the most desperate times: know hope.


Vote McCain – It Pleases Cheney!

Vice-President Dick Cheney endorses John McCain:

“John is a man who understands the danger facing America, he’s a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched, he’s a man who is comfortable with responsibility, and has been since he joined the armed forces at the age of 17. He has earned our support and confidence, and the time is now to make him commander in chief,” Cheney told a rally in Laramie yesterday.

The endorsement may help McCain with loyal Republicans but not with those who disenchanted with the Bush-Cheney administration or independents angry over the stewardship of the last eight years.

“I’m delighted to support John McCain, and I’m pleased that he has chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness, and common sense: our next vice-president, governor Sarah Palin,” he said.

Two words: game over.

Sarah Palin Tries Demagoguery

Or maybe she’s just plan stupid. It won’t matter past Tuesday I know, but let’s just have a look at the mad Governor of Alaska’s latest gem, putting the worst of George W Bush or even Dan Quayle to shame.

Basically she’s said that being criticised or even identified by the press as ‘going negative’ in her shameless attacks, lies and misrepresentations on/of almost-president Obama threatens her freedom of speech:

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”


As Garofoli quite rightly says, the First Amendment actually quite simply says she’s allowed to say what she likes about him and the press is allowed to show where she’s wrong or even criticise her for it without fear of retribution. Glenn Greenwald at Slate elaborates:

The First Amendment is actually not that complicated. It can be read from start to finish in about 10 seconds. It bars the Government from abridging free speech rights. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether you’re free to say things without being criticized, or whether you can comment on blogs without being edited, or whether people can bar you from their private planes because they don’t like what you’ve said.

He goes on to show a deeper flaw in her logic:

The Constitution also guarantees freedom of association. Thus, by Palin’s “reasoning,” when newspapers — or Palin herself — criticize Obama for his associations, they’re threatening his constitutional rights.

It’s a typical right wing attack, and one sadly all-too-familiar from the McCain/Palin campaign. They try to repackage their immoral behaviour as legitimate and constitutional by recasting the Constitution as something it is not, and then try to force their opponents to argue against them. McCain and Palin are indeed the ones who are putting Obama’s constitutional freedoms under threat; fortunately the Obama campaign has declined to even respond to this stupidity. It’s terrifying to think that if elected on Tuesday, only a heartbeat away from being the most powerful person in the world, she would believe herself constitutionally protected from criticism. It’s far more alarming than any of even the Bush excesses, but isn’t it strange how only the right wing seem to think this, and only when they’re on the ropes?

Fortunately it’s a moot point, and this sort of politics will contribute to her and McCain losing the election on Tuesday.

Poor Old John McCain

Just one week away from losing to the first African-American candidate for president, and still nothing’s working. In fact the country is hating his robocall strategy (you know, the one which destroyed his candidacy in 2000 and which he swore he’d never use?) so much that even call centre workers are rebelling against him:

Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.

Nina Williams, a stay-at-home mom in Lake County, Indiana, tells us that her daughter recently called her from her job at the center, upset that she had been asked to read a script attacking Obama for being “dangerously weak on crime,” “coddling criminals,” and for voting against “protecting children from danger.”

Williams’ daughter told her that up to 40 of her co-workers had refused to read the script, and had left the call center after supervisors told them that they would have to either read the call or leave, Williams says. The call center is called Americall, and it’s located in Hobart, IN.

“They walked out,” Williams says of her daughter and her co-workers, adding that they weren’t fired but willingly sacrificed pay rather than read the lines. “They were told [by supervisors], `If you all leave, you’re not gonna get paid for the rest of the day.”

The daughter, who wanted her name withheld fearing retribution from her employer, confirmed the story to us. “It was like at least 40 people,” the daughter said. “People thought the script was nasty and they didn’t wanna read it.”

Palin vs McCain

In the runup to their inevitable defeat a week on Tuesday, things are getting tense between angry John McCain and his crazy running mate Sarah Palin:

Even as John McCain and Sarah Palin scramble to close the gap in the final days of the 2008 election, stirrings of a Palin insurgency are complicating the campaign’s already-tense internal dynamics.

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain’s camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain’s decline.

“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

“I think she’d like to go more rogue,” he said.

It’s hard to see the woman going more rogue to be frank. This isn’t about the wardrobe, this isn’t about the moose shooting or even Troopergate (which hasn’t had anywhere near the impact it should have). This is about a candidate who is utterly unqualified to be president, should the man at the top of the ticket die (and he’s still refusing to release his medical records). She’s memorised talking points, but abundantly clearly doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about – she still doesn’t even know what the Vice President does. The Republican Party thought Rovian identity/wedge politics would work again this year in their pick, McCain didn’t even give the pick any thought, and the whole strategy turned into a mess. Justin Webb puts it quite well:

The interviews have been awful: that’s not media bias, it’s incompetence, hers to an extent but the party’s for letting it happen.

Anyway, John McCain’s response to the Palin insurgency can be seen in the video below: