This comment was posted in yesterday’s open thread, and I felt it deserved it’s own. Full credit goes to ST reader Mwalimu Daudi. Enjoy!
The McCain Presidency at One Hundred Days
By Mwalimu Daudi (AP)
His jaw set in a seemingly permanant grimace, the ex-POW John McCain looks older than his 73 years. A mixture of crisis and incompetence have already shaken his nascent Presidency to its foundations.
First, there was the failed nomination of Timothy Geitner to be Secretary of the Treasury when it was discovered that he had failed to pay thousands of dollars in back taxes.
Next, it was the diplomatic failure to obtain more combat troops from Europe to implement McCain’s planned surge in Afghanistan.
After Mr. McCain promised in his Inauguration speech to close Guantanamo, Secretary of State John Danforth was stymied in his efforts to convince Europe to take detainees from the prison that has become a worldwide symbol of American foreign policy gone astray. The G8 summit failed to produce a coherent plan to fight the deepening global depression as European leaders privately worried about the growing sense of drift in the McCain administration.
In Iran, the march towards building atomic weapons continues uninterrupted despite militaristic rhetoric from the McCain administration. North Korea withdrew from multilateral talks and restarted it nuclear weapons program.
In Iraq, violence is sharply escalating once again, more than erasing all of the gains of the past two years and threatening to plunge the country into civil war. Continuing US drone attacks in Pakistan that mostly kill civilians have further damaged the reputation of America and now threaten to destabilize the already shaky Pakistan government.
The H1N1 flu pandemic rages unabated as the US government is coming under mounting criticism for its tardy response.
And on Main Street, where foreign affairs take a back seat to lunch bucket issues, unemployment is soaring and shows no sign of abating. McCain’s stimulus package – which was rammed through the Congress with little debate – has left future generations of Americans holding the bag for the growing ocean of debt.
A Plunge in Popularity, The Departure of a Friend.
In what was widely seen as a fitting symbol of the floundering McCain administration, his close political ally and personal friend Arlen Specter announced that he has left the Republican Party. Citing McCain’s sharp turn to the right since winning the GOP nomination last fall, the ex-GOP Senator said, “My conscience is a voice that I cannot ignore. For the sake of the people of Pennsylvania, the citizens of our nation, and for the world, I did what I had to do.”
Specter added, “I no longer recognize the man who once so ably served his nation as the Senator from Arizona. Dark ambition has consumed him.”
Mr. McCain’s poll numbers have turned dark as well. The most recent Gallup survey puts him at just 56% – the second-lowest approval rating ever after 100 days in office. Democrats lead Republicans by 3% in the latest generic Congressional ballot.
Dr. Mya Buttreaks, a respected political analyst at Columbia University, said, “The McCain approval numbers are ominous. They also put the country in danger, since a weak leader is never respected. At some point the question will be asked: can he continue in office?”
An Unfortunate Series of Events.
If nothing else, McCain’s plunging popularity has been a group effort. In addition to the embarrassing Geitner nomination, which was caused by the failure of the vetting process, some of his worst enemies have been those closest to him.
When Cindy McCain told a reporter that she was proud of her shapely upper arms, it provided the late-night comics with endless jokes at her husband’s expense. In a speech to a group of veterans, Vice-President Sarah Palin continued her unfortunate tradition of major public gaffes by announcing that the McCain administration “remains committed to the great set of laws that made this nation unique in history – the Constitution.” Her statement about the Constitution was seen by civil rights groups as code words for white power, and the McCain administration was forced into days of damage control. “Fighting racism has been and always will be this administration’s top priority,” said one Attorney General Lindsey Graham. “Nothing, not even the Constitution, will stand in that way of that.”
Repairing the Damage.
In recent weeks the McCain administration has attempted to repair its damaged reputation. Last week the Attorney General announced that the McCain administration would begin prosecuting former Bush administration officials for authorizing the use of torture. No names have been released, but sources close to the McCain administration say that former Vice-President Cheney is among those “likely to be indicted.” The McCain administration also announced that it would not wait for Congress to restore the Fairness Doctrine, but would begin to actively investigate allegations that AM radio is dominated by right-wing talk radio rather than presenting a variety of viewpoints. And in an effort to mend damaged relations with Latino voters, McCain announced at his latest press conference that he would cease construction of the so-called border fence and unilaterally suspend enforcement of immigration laws for ninety days. “We need a cooling off period,” said Mr. McCain. “The forced separation of families is un-American. It must stop, and it will stop.”
McCain’s efforts to move to the center have drawn mixed reviews at best. “Why didn’t Mr. McCain announce on January 20 that he would prosecute those who authorized torture,” said Senator Joe Biden, the former Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate. “This has more to do with his dropping poll ratings. This is the mark of a failed Presidency.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was equally dubious of McCain’s proffered olive branch. “Mr. McCain selected a white woman as his running mate. He did this so that he could play the race card and portray Senator Barack Obama as some kind of black stalker threatening white women everywhere. And now he thinks that a tiny gesture or two will make people forget?”
Senator Chris Dodd was even more blunt. “The attempt to place a tax cheat like Timothy Geitner at the head of Treasury shows the complete lack of ethics this administration has. We already knew that they had no sense. But do they also have they no shame to go along with it?”
But the most cutting remarks may have come from Mr. McCain’s vanquished Democratic opponent, Senator Obama. “Mr. McCain’s budget deficit for this year alone is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to be nearly $900 billion dollars,” he remarked wistfully to a group in Illinois during a recent speech. “In the middle of a serious economic recession. Imagine if I had proposed a budget deficit like that. Everyone would be calling for my impeachment – and they would be right.”