Jonathan Alter is quickly becoming one of my favorite people. I came across another recent article by him about John McCain’s laughable claims to be an agent of change. McCain is trying to steal the “change” mantle from Barack Obama, without any evidence to support his claims. Jonathan Alter got to the meat of the matter in a way that made me want to send his article to all of my Right-Wing, Kool-Aid drinking relatives. Instead, I figured I’d mention it here.
A Reality Check On ‘Change’
by Jonathan Alter
Published Sep 13, 2008
Being labeled a ‘maverick’ sounds good to the public, but it makes it hard to forge bipartisan deals.
So far the fall campaign has majored in Sarah Palin, with a minor in the false ads launched (though rarely widely aired) by John McCain. Rather than debating whether Barack Obama voted to teach sex education to kindergartners (he didn’t) or called Sarah Palin a pig (he didn’t), it would be nice if the central dynamic of this contest were about, say, the record and temperament of each candidate. Is that asking too much?
To that end, let’s go back to Palin’s acceptance speech in St. Paul. “Listening to him [Obama] speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform—not even in the state Senate,” Palin said. “In politics there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change. They’re the ones whose names appear on laws and landmark reforms, not just on buttons and banners, or on self-designed presidential seals.”
That last crack refers to the Obama campaign’s idiotic effort last spring to make their man seem presidential with a silly seal. As zingers go, Palin’s was justified. But the rest of what she said in that section of her speech is as phony as a moose in Manhattan.
Obama served eight years in Springfield, and has been in Washington nearly four so far. In the Illinois state Senate, he authored about a half-dozen “major laws” on issues ranging from ethics to education. The best example of his leadership style was bipartisan legislation to require the videotaping of police interrogations, which is now a national model. Obama brought together police, prosecutors and the ACLU on a win-win bill that simultaneously increased conviction rates and all but ended jailhouse beatings. In Washington he has his name on three important laws: the first major ethics reform since Watergate; a much-needed cleanup of conventional weapons in the former Soviet Union, and the “Google for Government” bill, an accountability tool that requires notice of all federal contracts to be posted online. Besides that, Obama hasn’t been around long enough to get much done.
McCain served four years in the House and has been in the Senate almost 22 so far. But he, too, has authored fewer than a half-dozen major laws. Trying to fix immigration counts for something, but nothing passed. So while McCain deserves credit for the landmark 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill, the only other major law on which his office says his “name appears” (Palin’s standard) is the “McCain Amendment” prohibiting torture in the armed forces. But that has little meaning because of a bill this year, supported by McCain, that allows torture by the CIA. Under longstanding government practice, military intelligence officers can be temporarily designated as CIA officers (“sheep-dipped” is the bureaucratic lingo) when they want to go off the Army field manual. In other words, the government can still torture anyone, any time. McCain caved on an issue he insists is a matter of principle.
[to read the complete article, click here]