After 18 tumultuous months in office, an assessment of the success of John McCain’s Presidency to date is called for. Elected by a razor-thin electoral vote margin in a 2008 election tainted by suspected voter fraud in North Carolina, Ohio (again), and Florida (again), President McCain since his inauguration has careened from crisis to crisis without any recognizable plan.
With Hoover-like noninvolvement, he has taken a “hands off” approach to Wall Street, letting the market sort out its own problems, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average flirting with the 5,000 level, an almost two-thirds drop from its high point in the Bush years. The housing market is a total mess, with bankruptcies and foreclosures at all time highs, unemployment is close to 15%, GM is history, as McCain refused to bail out the company, and Chrysler is struggling to survive.
The Wall Street banks, even with the Bush bailouts, are in the dumps, except for Goldman Sachs, which continues to show record profits. The President has poured billions of unfunded dollars into the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, insisting that “We are going to do everything necessary to win”, even in the face of strong opposition from the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.
He has made Guantanamo the place of residence for the Times Square and underwear bombers, and the captured Somali pirates, who will be tried by military courtsmartial at “Gitmo”. McCain’s famous temper led him to explode at the buffoonery of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez at the UN, poking a finger in his chest and going eyeball-to-eyeball with him and calling his country a “banana republic”.
He also was heard in an unguarded moment on an open mike to say that he wanted to “bitch slap” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after she refused to support his latest Iraq War appropriations request. He then ordered more troops to Iraq, even without Congressional authorization, daring Congress to cut off support for the troops.
His nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by Justice Souter’s departure is still hung up in the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Chairman Joe Biden adamant that it will not be brought up for a vote, since Sessions has already been rejected as unqualified in 1986 for a federal district court judgeship. McCain’s other nomination, to replace Justice Stevens, Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee (one of the authors of the Bush Administration’s “torture memo” justifying waterboarding), is also languishing in the Senate, leaving the Supreme Court with only seven overworked Justices.
Laura Ling and Una Lee remain languishing in a North Korean prison, as McCain refuses to show weakness by negotiating with a key member of the “Axis of Evil”. Another member of this club, Iran, has received repeated threats to “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” from our famously loose-lipped President, so many that many pundits believe he is serious about starting a third Middle Eastern War. McCain also remains “totally committed” to Israel, tossing off the Israeli attacks on the Gaza flotilla as “totally justified”.
A major problem for the McCain Administration has been the repeated gaffes by his Vice President, Sarah Palin, who, on a recent goodwill trip to China, praised former Chinese mortal enemy Chiang Kai-shek, and messed up a toast to Chinese President Hu Jintao by mangling a Chinese phrase, which came out of her mouth calling him “the egg of a turtle”, a horrendous insult in China.
Her repeated blunders, and the resulting escalating tensions with McCain, as well as rumors of continuing legal problems in Alaska and marital infidelities, led to Palin’s sudden resignation as Vice President last month to take a job as a correspondent for Fox News.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, currently next in line for the Presidency with no Vice President in office, has shown a decided lack of interest in scheduling the hearings set out by the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to choose another Vice President. This must be done by a majority vote in both houses of Congress. McCain has nominated Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann for that post, and Pelosi has been rumored to have said, “Over my dead body will that woman be confirmed”.
President McCain has dismissed the need for healthcare reform as “too expensive”, and in defiance of Democratic efforts, has set up another commission to study privatizing Medicare and Social Security. He has characterized global warming as “Democrat nonsense”, and has pushed for the building of a twenty-foot fence from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific along the border with Mexico. He also has urged Congress to pass an anti-immigration law similar to that enacted in his home state, Arizona.
He has steadfastly refused to intervene in any way in the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, saying that he has “absolute assurances from top BP executives that the matter will be fully taken care of”. Senator Barack Obama, the narrowly defeated Democratic candidate, has been a constant critic of the McCain Administration since the election, reminding American voters of what he would have done as each new crisis emerged.
To make matters worse, a book has come out claiming that McCain, while a prisoner of war in Hanoi, actually collaborated with the North Vietnamese. There is also a nascent “birther” movement taking shape, claiming that since McCain was born in Panama before the passage of a law making persons born abroad of U.S. citizens serving in the military automatically citizens, he is not eligible to be President. McCain calls this movement “blatantly unpatriotic”, and refuses to dignify the book about his days as a POW with a response.
President McCain has urged that the United Nations move its headquarters out of the U.S., and he has proposed that the U.S. leave the UN, which he calls “useless and corrupt”. He also has refused to meet with most foreign leaders in the White House, or to travel abroad, except for heavily guarded and secret trips to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since McCain’s wife refuses to live in Washington, D.C., the country is effectively without a First Lady. The President often disappears from view for days at a time, supposedly to one of his seven other residences around the country, where he is rumored to be undergoing medical treatment for recurring skin cancers.
President McCain has grown increasingly distant from the press, whom he sees as an arch enemy of his Presidency. He has yet to hold a press conference since he took the oath of office, and he has made only six carefully orchestrated speeches in the past eighteen months. He is rumored to be working on his seventh, which would amount to a declaration of war against Iran, in coordination with a sneak attack by Israel on Iran’s underground nuclear facilities.
Wake up – your nightmare is over….
Ted Vaill has been a lawyer in Los Angeles for over 40 years, and is an elected Delegate to the California Democratic Convention from the 41st Assembly District. He is also a filmmaker, and posted a video on YouTube in September, 2008 entitled "John McCain Not Qualified for Presidency"