Sunday, February 10, 2008

John McCain and the Gook Factor (politics)

My sister in law is a Republican and she sent me an e-mail saying that she plans to vote for John McCain. Maybe she was just making conversation, but she also wanted to know what I think of John McCain. First, I wouldn’t vote for John McCain myself. I’m politically liberal, he’s not.

That means there are several issues right off the top where I part ways with the presumptive Republican nominee.

1) He strongly supports the war. In fact, he risked his candidacy on the viability of the “surge”. My memories of candidate McCain shopping in Baghdad while guarded by helicopters, armored escort, etc. then coming how to tell America how safe the place is are a bit too fresh. He’s also a military man. He knows better than to confuse a drop in the level of violence (military success) with the White House’s own measure for the surge, the Iraqis taking steps towards political reconciliation a goal that seems no closer now than it did a year ago.

2) He’s not pro-choice.

3) Although he initially opposed the Bush tax cuts as fiscally irresponsible, he now endorses them despite the fact that they’re still driving up the deficits. He also just happened to be absent the other day when the senate voted on the tax “stimulus” package.

There are many things I admire about John McCain

1) Not only did he spend seven years as a POW, he refused to be released before lower –ranking captives were released. I couldn’t have survived such an experience nor would I have ever had the courage to pull someone out of a river under enemy fire the way John Kerrey did. The ultra-rights do have a mini swift-boat thing going with McCain. They claim that he disclosed his mission and the position his plane flew from to avoid torture. Even if true, I still admire the guy.

2) He worked with Russ Feingold and tried to do something about campaign finance reform. It’s not often mentioned that part of the impetus for McCain taking on campaign reform is the fact that he was one of the Keating Five. The investigation found that McCain and family had been taking free trips courtesy of Lincoln Savings and Loan. A lot of politicians have this kind of baggage though and I give him credit for working to clean this sort of stuff up.

3) As a Republican in a conservative state, he’s refused to jump on the anti-gay marriage thing as a way to get votes. It’s never been written much, but McCain had a reputation as a womanizer that rivals Bill Clinton’s. Again there have been grumblings from the far right about the fact that he dumped his first wife after she dutifully waited for his return from Vietnam. She was so loyal that she didn’t even tell him about her own serious medical problems that caused her to lose her looks. After he returned, he cheated on her openly then married a twenty five year old daughter of the man who would pay for his entry into Arizona politics.

Unlike some other conservatives who live in glass houses, McCain has never thrown stones.

4) I agree with him on immigration. I can’t punish people who simply sought to feed their families. If you want to get serious about it, it’s employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens whom I feel need to face stiff penalties.

5) As the only candidate who actually was tortured in war, he’s the rare Republican who simply opposes waterboarding as un-American. His exchange with Mitt Romney in the debates was one of those moments where I thought “Wow, I see why so many people are so entranced with John McCain.”

6) He’s one of the few Republicans who acknowledges that global warming is a serious problem. I do have to say that his plan for addressing the issue is extremely flawed though.

All that said, I’m not sure what to tell a Republican who maybe still believes in both the war and happens to feel that abortion should never be legal. My “policy” reasons for not voting for John McCain just wouldn’t matter much to her. Many of my reasons for liking John McCain might also be reasons a Republican would vote against the guy.

My problem with John McCain though runs deeper than his stances. If I voted on policy positions alone, I would have voted for Dennis Kucinich. I’ve never voted for Kucinich because he never struck me as having the right personality for the presidency. I’ve heard conservatives say the same about Ron Paul. When it comes to John McCain, I’m troubled by two matters that many people dismiss as minor. Maybe they are a sign of how petty I am, but here they are.

The Gook Factor

Up through 2000, John McCain was publicly using the word “Gook” as in “I’ll hate the gooks until the day I die.”

Until late February 2000, candidate McCain refused to apologize or give up using the term. He explained that he wasn’t referring to “Asian” people in general, just the people who held him captive and tortured him and his fellow POWs. After some pressure, he agreed to stop using the term publicly Yeah, that does suggest that he may well still be using the phrase in private. Interestingly, many Vietnamese Republicans in California continued to support John McCain. It’s worth mentioning that the McCains have an adopted daughter from Bangladesh. I don’t know if they privately call her a “wog” or a “nigger” (most people don’t know that the British applied the “n” word to East Indians and other groups who were brown or darker in addition to black Africans.

Perhaps this is why McCain later hugged George W. Bush even after what Karl Rove managed to insinuate during the 2000 South Carolina primary. I suspect Rove told McCain, “We didn’t mean you were black in those push polls, just your daughter.”

To which the Senator from Arizona responded, "Karl, it's not like you guys called her 'macaca' or anything like that."

To be accurate, I’m a “chink” and have only been called a “gook” a couple times in my life. The people who did it may well have thought that I looked like someone who had tortured them for all I know. I say call the people who tortured you anything you want, but it’s interesting that the guy settled on “gook”. Had they been “fuckers”, “scum”, “commies” (wouldn’t that at least make more sense), or even “neo-commies”, I’d feel much better about John McCain. Thse after all are things one chooses to be.

So how does this guy really think away from reporters and tv cameras? I can’t vote for him to be my president. That’s just me speaking as a “gook” though and as one who knows that when Senator McCain uses the phrase he desn’t mean me. Of course if this were Britain and 100 years ago, he’d have been running around telling everyone how much he hates “niggers”. I wonder what American voters, even conservative Republicans, would make of that.

fwiw, I do know what conservatives made of it when Jesse Jackson was caught using the word "Hymie" in a private conversation. I would never vote for Jess Jackson btw and never did.

The Chelsea joke:

Last week, a David Shuster got suspended from MSNBC for suggesting that the Clintons had “pimped’ their daughter Chelsea out by getting her to call various female politicians on behalf of her mother’s campaign. In 1998, Senator McCain made the following joke at a DC Republican fundraiser to general laughter and applause, “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father.”

When the word got out, McCain quickly apologized to the Clintons who quietly accepted the apology. Personally, I think Chelsea Clinton’s quite attractive, especially if you know anything about her. Have you looked in a mirror lately Senator? In any case, the joke itself manages to be anti-gay, anti-female, and God knows what else all at once. Chelsea Clinton was not quite 18 at the time and given that other scandal that started in 1996 wasn’t exactly going through the easiest time as the First Daughter. Janet Reno was also dealing with the onset of Parkinson's disease at the time. I've found nothing that suggests that McCain ever apologized to the Attorney General.

The incident suggests a streak of cruelty and/or thoughtlessness. Neither is a good thing for a possible leader fo the "free world". It also echoes some people's concerns about why John McCain left his first wife.

Even if I were a Republican I couldn’t vote for John McCain. It is after all Abraham Lincoln's party. Maybe my reasons are down there with those folk who say they would never vote for the Clintons because of Monica. Even if I happened to agree with candidate McCain on every single issue, there’s a side of the man that I can't support. It worries me that the national media has largely covered it up and maybe there are things I don’t know about the other candidates, but I happen to know these things about John McCain.

Yes, I admire John McCain’s service. He’s also shown genuine political courage. I just don’t trust him to represent all of America.



At 2/11/2008 05:41:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

Those are some pretty excellent reasons to not trust him as if just being a politician wasn't enough.

Bill Maher was making fun of him for campaigning with Wilford Brimley when the other candidates had much sexier stars at their pep rallies. He made the joke that McCain must have asked that they find him someone to make him look younger.

At 2/11/2008 08:24:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Wilford Brimley? wow....

Yeah, there is the matter of MCCain being really old. I think that's okay, but I think that both the janet reno thing and the gook thing reflect the fact that he's out of step perhpas because he's from a slightly older generation.

At 2/11/2008 08:54:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

You make good points about McCain. I don't agree with him on most issues but I respect him more than the other Republican candidates. One major thing that bothers me is that he said he would never vote for a Muslim candidate for president. That's pure prejudice. And it may have been a slam against O'Bama.

At 2/11/2008 10:27:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Actually, I'd say the same thing . The Republican field is so weak for 2008, he is the strongest candidate they have.

At 2/12/2008 04:53:00 PM, Blogger None said...

I was going to comment on this yesterday, but I got distracted. To use such terms is a bit more than disheartening. And his "apology" that is not really anything close to it is straight from the conservative play book. That said, McCain still has plenty to answer for from his days as part of the Keating 5. This discretion only adds more questions to how he is or will be treated in the media.

It does feel odd commenting on Republican candidates. Their views, even the "moderate" ones, are far from what I would consider acceptable. They are a far cry from the mythic days of Lincoln.

At 2/12/2008 05:20:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

PL or Ben,
I'm pretty sure that Lincoln would be a Democrat today.
I can thing of so many examples where other people have used language like McCain in public who got the axe. Earl Butz comes to mind for one and the guy was just telling jokes while on an airplane.

At 2/13/2008 07:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to your reservations, the two-shots which showed Mr. McCain seething in the debate when Mr. Romney was tweaking him were very worrisome. He was infuriated without much provocation.

I do think that in the country at large, he'd beat Mr. Obama if Mr. Obama were the Dem nominee because he'd paint him as "to the left of Hillary Clinton" [shiver your midwestern timbers] and as "someone who is against 'victory' for America." People want out of Iraq, but they don't want America to "lose."

When even I as a serious bleeding heart liberal think Mr. Obama seriously needs some serious seasoning, the Red states will get the jitters if Mr. Obama is the nominee. I see 4 more states than McGovern. If Hillary is the nominee, she wins the General easily. She's genuinely grounded and substantial.

At 2/14/2008 10:24:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Mr. PB,
First, I think both of the remaining Democrats are fine candidates especially when compared with McCain.

I would say that the polls are currently saying that Obama is more likely to win the national election against McCain than Clinton. They're just polls though and you're really talking about the possible effect of the looming battles rather than what the polls say.

I think a spirited nomination battle is a good thing. I just hope the super delegate factor doesn't get perceived as some sort of cloak room politics. It doesn't have to be that.


Post a Comment

<< Home