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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Members of the mainstream media in this country have been engaged in a nauseating love affair with Sen. John McCain ever since his failed presidential campaign in 2000. During that campaign, the Arizona senator swept the press off of their collective feet with his brash "straight talk," his disarming charm and his self-deprecating sense of humor. Many so-called "journalists" labeled him a "maverick" because he occasionally refused to toe the line of his intellectually and morally bankrupt party. However, this, in and of itself, does not a maverick make. Simply repeating something over and over again does not mean that it's true.

The media's preferential treatment of McCain is self-evident and irresponsible. In 2006, MSNBC's Chris Matthews openly admitted to the media's affinity for McCain: "The press loves McCain. We're his base." McCain's media-made public persona as a common-sense moderate in the era of color-coded polarization has taken on a life of its own - with no regard for the facts. The media-manufactured-myth of McCain as maverick has been vigorously reinforced during this election season.

A couple of weeks ago, the presumptive Republican nominee delivered what was dubbed a major foreign policy speech. In the speech, McCain walked a fine line in an attempt to propagate the aura of moderation that has defined his political career. McCain distanced himself from President Bush's cowboy diplomacy, while at the same time reaffirming his commitment to the neoconservative ethos of American domination and a foreign policy of international meddling.

McCain discussed climate change and the need to negotiate a Kyoto Protocol-like treaty to combat global warming. He called for a reduction in nuclear arms, the closing of Guantanamo Bay and a return to "international good citizenship," whereby America listens to and respects the insights and opinions of the world community. Yet he also lauded the "progress" made in Iraq and engaged in some old fashioned Cold War-era saber-rattling, calling for Russia to be expelled from the G8 nations.

The reality-based rhetoric McCain espoused in parts of this speech is consistent with the positions he has taken on theses issues during the campaign. But as the saying goes, "the proof is in the pudding." McCain's reality-based rhetoric, as refreshing as it may be, doesn't match the reality of his record.

It's true that McCain has been one of the few Republicans to recognize the danger posed by climate change. What is not usually mentioned by media is his actual record on the environment. The League of Conservation Voters gave McCain a score of zero for 2007. His lifetime League of Conservation Voters score is a paltry 24 percent. Although McCain's lifetime score is one of the highest among currently serving Republican senators, that doesn't mean he's an environmental crusader. Likewise, McCain - a veritable American hero who was tortured as a prisoner during the Vietnam War - has come out strongly against the use of torture in the War on Terror, but when it comes time for a vote, these convictions disappear. In February, the Senate passed a ban on waterboarding. The anti-torture McCain, who has called waterboarding "a horrible torture technique," voted against the ban.

One observer has called McCain "a softer, gentler neoconservative." He's still a neoconservative.

A vote for McCain this fall represents a vote for a third term of Bush's backward policies. Don't let the media fool you. John McCain is no maverick.

Joshua Fredrickson is a political science senior. His column appears Wednesdays.

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