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 August, 2008


 John McCain's Style Overrides His Substance

All Style, Questionable Substance

If he wins the presidency, John McCain plans to attack Cleveland. He’s said that, in so many words.
Last Saturday, at that forum at the Saddleback Church in Lake Forrest, California, McCain claimed, “If I'm president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get bin Laden and bring him to justice.”

There you have it. I’m a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. To me and many people who share that particular inclination – “the gates of hell” start at Cleveland’s city limits.

The only reason, I suppose, McCain didn’t mention Cleveland by name, is he’s still trying to court the Ohio vote.

But for me, McCain’s message was crystal clear. That he’s a tough guy.

The question posed to him that resulted in his oft repeated “gates of hell” declaration was something rather simple.
Church pastor Rick Warren, the moderator of the debateless debate, simply asked him, “Does evil exist and, if so, should ignore it, negotiate it with it, contain it or defeat it?”

“Defeat it,” replied the ever-so-proud-of-himself McCain. He then volunteered his “gates of hell” line as if he hadn’t already worn it out on the campaign stump a hundred times.

I’m surprised he didn’t announce he’s planning to head to London on July 27th, 2012 (The opening ceremony of the next summer Olympic Games) so that he’ll be able to declare war on all 400 nations – simultaneously.

No wonder hard line conservatives are claiming McCain “cleaned Barack Obama’s clock” that night.
Obama came equipped with his usual measured and thoughtful responses. McCain came armed with political Hail Marys and one-liners.

It didn’t matter, to them, that some of McCain’s pre-packaged answers didn’t always make much sense. All he had to do was sound good offering them.
When asked by Warren, for instance, “What point is a baby entitled to human rights,” McCain saw an obvious applause line opening when he replied, “At the moment of conception.”

That question, the response and the subsequent applause made McCain look the part of a future president who’d like to bestow human rights at the moment when a man and woman meet at a bar, and the guy asks, “Do you come here often?”

McCain did produce a few surprising moments. When asked who the three wisest people he’d rely on during a McCain administration, he included John Lewis.

Lewis, long before he became a congressman from Georgia (he’s served in congress concurrently with McCain for 22 years), had been a civil rights leader.
In fact, he delivered a speech that contained some rather strong language – before it had to be excised – at the same civil rights rally and on the same day Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

McCain, as has been well documented, repeatedly voted against a number of bills that contributed to a federal Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. That alone, would make it unlikely that McCain and Lewis would ever seek each other’s counsel.

Lewis, hearing McCain had used his name during the Saddleback forum, replied, “Sen. McCain and I are colleagues in the US Congress, not confidantes. He does not consult me. And I do not consult him.”

Since the 1960’s, Lewis has certainly tempered his rhetoric. What I think he really meant was the only thing he and John McCain have in common is their first name.
And that he might even change that if McCain keeps pandering so awkwardly for black votes.
But the McCain’s “straight talk” regarding another of his canned talking points last Saturday has gained the most attention. That’s because there are a lot of people who’ve been questioning its veracity.

McCain told the story of how one of his guards while he was a POW scratched a cross in the ground one Christmas day and, “For a minute there, there was just two Christians worshipping together.”

Problem is, the writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn had related a curiously similar story in his book “The Gulag Archipelago” – before McCain had been taken captive.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net
Blender Magazine contacted the campaign offices of John McCain and Barack Obama, and got the candidate’s picks 10 favorite songs.

Of course, I feel obliged to “diagnose” their selections. First, though, I have to diagnose why they even cooperated with such a dumb idea in the first place.
My diagnosis? It’s a dumb idea.

Next, let’s look at the selections.
Barack Obama’s favorite song is Ready Or Not, by the Fugees. Some pundits, who aren’t necessarily pro-Obama have found a bit of irony in the song’s title.
“Ready or not,” they say, isn’t exactly the kind of thing that benefits a presidential candidate whose opponent keeps reminding people he’s not really ready to inhabit the Oval Office.

Nonsense. The last words in that song, if those pundits cared to read the lyrics, contain the phrase, “I (am a) refugee from Guantanamo Bay, dance around the border like I'm Cassius Clay.” Maybe that’s why Obama likes that tune so much.
Number two on Obama’s list is a song that’s certainly in line with his presidential aspirations – Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On.”
Could anybody misread Obama’s fondness for a song that’s been even called an anthem with lyrics like these?

“Father, Father, Father, we don’t need to escalate. War is not the answer. For only love can conquer hate.”

McCain’s top selection does seem a bit curious. ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” contains lyrics that don’t quite fit McCain.
“You are the dancing queen. Young and sweet - only seventeen,” conjures images of a terribly awkward looking McCain on a dance floor.
And too, the song “Dancing Queen” doesn’t really fit the image of most of conservatives.
This year, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sidney, Australia’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Same Same Magazine online ran a poll. They asked readers to declare their “Gayest Song of All Time.”

You guessed it. John McCain’s favorite song, “Dancing Queen,” topped the list.
That’s no joke.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net