As I noted a few articles ago, I’ve kinda been ignoring John McCain in favor of covering the end of the Democratic primaries. But, with those over, and things somewhat quiet elsewhere, the time seems ripe to go back to him.
John McCain, who I’ve always respected and liked a lot more than some other Republican candidates, is frankly starting to disappoint me. He’s been increasingly shedding his maverick image, at least on the issues of the Iraq war and detainee treatment.
The John McCain of old bucked the Bush administration on detainee treatment. But, apparently not John McCain, Republican nominee. He has this thing wrapped up, and he is pandering to the far right on these issues. Of course, it’s not entirely surprising. He was one of the cheerleaders of the Military Commissions Act. He also has to look tough on terrorism toward the base.
Yet, I’d argue that he can still look tough without pandering to the far right. He can still call for negotiations on our own tough terms (with which I’d agree), and even a presence in Iraq until the Iraqis can effectively take control of military operations themselves (which they are starting to do very well) without compromising his positions on detainee treatment.
I think it looks bad to Independents and conservative Democrats when a candidate who seemed to enshrine human rights for our detainees is seemingly backtracking on this by the day. The same guy who says our military shouldn’t torture is willing to reserve this right for organizations like the CIA, which I think sends mixed messages to voters.
In short, John McCain needs to decide where he stands on these issues. It’s important to his electoral future. I’d argue for a return to his maverick positions. It may anger some of the base and the far right, but McCain needs the widespread support if he wishes to win in November.
More to come on all the nominees, including John McCain.