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An American hero implodes

| John McCain (R-AZ) was once an honorable, reasonable man. He came to politics a genuine American hero, having survived the horrors of a North Vietnamese prison camp. He developed a reputation as a straight-talking and independent politician, willing to stand against his party when principle demanded it.

In 2000, McCain ran for president in a crowded field that included conservative activist Alan Keyes, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, businessman Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, and Governor George W Bush of Texas. Numerous other candidates withdrew before the primaries began: Lamar Alexander, Pat Buchanan, Elizabeth Dole, John Kasich, Dan Quayle, and Robert Smith. On the Democratic side, the primary field narrowed to Vice-President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ).

McCain was something of a dark horse in the campaign, competing against the son of former president George H W Bush, but he won a surprise victory in New Hampshire, earning 48% of the vote compared to Bush's 30%. When the campaign moved to South Carolina, the slime-machine went into overtime, suggesting that McCain was a "Manchurian candidate" and that he had fathered a child with a black prostitute. McCain's momentum was stopped. Nevertheless, McCain won my admiration when he denounced Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "agents of intolerance."

That year I put my money where my mouth was and made small campaign contributions to the candidates that I believed were the best in each party: John McCain and Bill Bradley.

Since then it has been all downhill for John McCain.

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Mike Luckovich

Nowhere has McCain's tortured positioning been more obvious than on the "Don't-ask-don't-tell" policy regarding the service of gays in the military. The Wonk Room blog has cataloged McCain’s Top 11 Positions On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

McCain's contortions on the issue have become laughable. He said he would listen to the military — until they said DADT should be repealed. He said there needed to be a study — until the study revealed that having gays serve openly is no big deal to most of the armed forces (with the Marines showing more resistance). It's clear that McCain has himself become an agent of intolerance where gays and lesbians are concerned.

This week Jon Stewart's The Daily Show took direct aim at McCain's intransigence, the stubborn refusal of an angry and embittered old man unwilling to accept the changing reality of modern life. Bravo to The Daily Show!

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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