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06/30/2008

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Congrats, Laura. From the words containing all of the warmth and soul of a car salesman's pitch to the freaky/scary picture of the intergenerational couple, this one leaves leaves me speechless.

Just trying to be "fair and balanced" in my coverage. Can't help it if there's not much to work with.

This post is shameful exerpting of the article, implying that the article questions his character, when it is actually highly praising his character. Other comments in the article:
"that he has raised a Bangladeshi girl with severe health problems adopted from Mother Theresa's orphanage? Or that his own sons have served in the military, including in Iraq", "he refused early release until all the POWs captured before him were freed, and that he refused special treatment offered once it was discovered that he was the "crown prince" (the son of the admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet) because he wouldn't provide the enemy with any propaganda victories", "His principled refusal of political advantage from his son's Iraq service extends to refusal even to be interviewed on the subject, or to introduce his son to campaign audiences", "It is an extraordinary man who commits himself to such generous and heroic acts; it is an extraordinary politician who won't utter a word about such acts for political aggrandizement."
Much more in the article.

John, thanks for reading. It actually wasn't my intent to slam Sen. McCain's character, or to question it through the excerpt, which, in retrospect, was not particularly noteworthy. My point was really to get people to start thinking about character and whether it is important (I happen to think it is)--but we have had a lot of discussions here about that very issue, and what makes up character. We've talked about a lot of the issues raised in the article (which you mention) at different times over the last several months, and I was looking at this more from the point of view of "is character important?"--not the particular indicators of Sen. McCain's character. I assumed that readers would click over and read the rest of the article. My apologies if I offended anyone, or if there's a sense that I inappropriately "dissed" Sen. McCain.

I don't happen to believe that his character outside of his voting record really matters all that much. There are many people of good character who do not make a living in Washington D.C. growing government and who do not try to wrest my freedoms with their egregious legislation.

McCain/Feingold is one area where Senator McCain falls way short in my estimation. Also, his decree of a hundred-year war threatens my children's future as does his lack of economic insight. What will this "man of character" do to me and my family once elected? What will he do to others?

Is the reason the character card is being played so heavily due to his perceived failings within the realm of politics? His character has been with him from the beginning, according to this and many other articles, yet his voting record does not reflect my personal political beliefs. Therefore, I don't hold other character traits to be consistent with his political character - the one that will matter when I'm in the voting booth.

From President Bush's 2000 acceptance speech:

"I am proud to have Dick Cheney by my side.
America will be proud to have a leader of such CHARACTER to succeed Al Gore as vice president of the United States."

From President Bush's 2004 inaugural address:

"From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few: Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our CHARACTER bring credit to that cause?"

The problem, of course, comes in defining character, and whether you're talking about public or private character. I do think that private character says something about a person--and probably contributes to voter comfort with a candidate; on the other hand, private character and public fidelity to an oath of office are certainly not the same thing, and, as you point out, Eric, those are things that need to be considered, as well.

I wish character mattered. I really do. But history proves otherwise. Lord Acton was correct with his theory that power corrupts. By now, I think we can call it an axiom.

Laura, you are correct that character is attractive to many voters. This explains the article and the soon-to-be commercials in the same vein.

Politics is so incredibly veiled and one can not possibly understand all of the reasons for a politician's voting record. But if Ron Paul can make sense of it all and follow the Constitution then the rest should at least be much closer to his actions in Congress if they want MY vote (there's a paper to be written about that statement). The rest of these office-seekers leave me circumspect.

I appreciate Laura's thoughtful comment in which she puts the issue in broader perspective of what has been discussed at RedStateEclectic over a period of many months. Thanks, Laura.

I fully support Eric Parks' comments.

Additionally, I take a very simple position regarding McCain's character: He is lying all the time, which is well documented both in the press and in video clips - and to some extent in posts at RedStateEclectic.

At one time, he proposed the cakewalk theory of the aggression against Iraq, later on he condemned himself by fulminating against those irresponsible people who sold the Iraq war on the basis of the cakewalk theory. Examples of this type abound. He admits his own insincerity with a facile admission: "I more than waffled." And so on.

This man has got the most detestable character. Full stop.

In view of his lying, it is not necessary to go into many other aspects of his bad character.

Also, the character discussion is one of the many distractions that keep attention away from the fundamental issues: our political system is based on corruption and the violation of the Constitution. Not men matter, but the law and its efficacy, that is the whole point about the libertarian's insistence on the rule of law versus the rule of men.

The first act as President by McCain will be another lie: he will swear an oath in which he proposes to support and defend the Constitution.

McCain lying, an example: http://youtube.com/watch?v=FyBwMy27Aoc

There is any number of examples of McCain lying. He and his wife lied to one another when they met, and Cindy thinks it's funny to lie to each other. Go to time mark 0:56.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv7LUT1ezm0&feature=related

For those who have not been following RedStateEclectic over an extended period, may I point out that Laura has always been at pains to present John McCain in a fair manner, giving ample space to what may be considered meritorious in him. In fact, this has been a recurrent aspect of friendly tension between her and me. Laura is the kind of Republican that keeps my interest in the party alive. With Republican Ron Paul out of the presidential race, I now support the Libertarian Party.

But thanks to Laura, I have not written off the Republican party altogether, always keeping a hopeful eye on trends of improvement and Constitutional renaissance in the GOP.

The Republican party should be proud of Laura Ebke.

Well-l-l-l, Georg...first, though the first video you posted (excerpts from two different speeches, taken out of context, produced by the Democratic Party) looks damning, I think it's a little bit of a stretch to to call that "lying"--most of us change our positions over time, as we get new information, or as our experiences change. To call McCain a liar for changing his views on Social Security (although I think his first one was more correct), is sort of akin to calling Bob Barr a liar because he says he now believes the Patriot Act was a mistake, even though he voted for it. I guess I'm just really sensitive to the use of the word "lie"--unless I can prove that I am being deliberately mislead, and that the person who is speaking to me knows that what he/she is saying is an untruth. Of course that doesn't speak highly of John McCain's consistency, and it sure doesn't say much about the strength of his convictions, but I'm not sure that he's outright lying.

As for his wife's little story--gee. I find that pretty trivial. I obviously wouldn't encourage someone to lie about their age to a prospective spouse--on the other hand, a "white lie" which occurs in the context of a romance is probably not all that unusual.

If changing your mind and "failure to be completely frank all the time" are adequate to disqualify one from a leadership role, I suspect there's not a one of us who is qualified.

As for the broader question of character, though, I think it is at some level important. Whether you agree with a particular person or not, if they are of high character, you at least know where you stand with them. Now, we can certainly argue John McCain's character. I think he's probably got plenty of weaknesses to go along with the strengths that the article linked to mentions (his legendary temper, for instance). And character alone is certainly not adequate for the Oval Office (character gave us Jimmy Carter)--although Gerald Ford, who I admire in some ways, even though his politics weren't quite conservative for me, provided character when it was very much needed.

It's tough to separate character from policy, but I think it's dangerous to connect them too much, as well. Character does not necessarily determine policy; policy is not necessarily determinate of character, but all other things being equal, I'd take Ron Paul's libertarian-conservatism WITH his character over having it WITHOUT his character, because without that character, the temptation to be consumed by Washington might be too great.

Thanks for the kind words, Georg.

I shake my head. The standards applied to measure the credibility of the next president of the United States! I shake my head.

If a candidate fills volumes with blatant contradictions on the most vital issues, he is either a liar or demented.

Unless we rule out sheer madness, we ought to assume that McCain is mostly lying - the incentives for him to be lying are enormous, for no one cares about that little defect, it is actually expected by the public.

As for the first you tube link; his denial to have ever been in favour of privatisation is a few days old, the opposite statement is from 2004. If he has difficulties remembering his positions on absolutely vital issues, he should not be running for president, let alone praise himself for straight talk.

As for the second youtube link, while I have different views on the importance of truthfulness between partners (who in the case of the McCain's depend on the newspapers to learn that they are not telling the truth to one another), I picked this example of many public admissions of lying (satisfied with the fact of lying?) as a conspicuous sign of the ubiquity of untruthfulness in McCain's public profile.

"Our marriage is based on a tissue of lies" (hahahaha, how funny); "I more than waffled...I did it out of ambition" (hahahah, how funny). I can fill this entire blog with posts on utterly incompatible propositions made by McCain, whether provable lies, instances of mental unfitness or utter cynicism relying on the still greater forgetfulness and confusion of those supposed to screen the man they might vote into the Oval Office, we are talking about a manner of handling issues that cannot be possibly acceptable in a future president.

The standards of honesty. I shake my head. The standards of credibility. I shake my head.

Dishonest men like McCain make it to the top positions in a dishonest system that imposes dishonest policies on the entire society until gradually all of us become used to and tolerant of dishonesty. The rule of dishonesty is what socialism brings about, when socialism is introduced gradually the adaptation to dishonest standards seems to be harder to notice.

The comparison with Bob Barr is utterly unfair.

Unlike McCain, he has not misrepresented past positions, unlike McCain he is consistent in correcting earlier stances - and as a result, unlike McCain, he has a systematically libertarian agenda to offer. Bob Barr is not opportunistic, he is not pandering to special interests, he is not schizophrenic like McCain, schizophrenia or tactical forgetfulness or a lax attitude vis á vis the truth being the "deformation professionelle" of the status quo politician, who depends on making the most inconsistent promises and taking the most incompatible postures to entice and engineer majority coalitions that will give him the only thing he truly cares for: power.

Unlike, McCain, Bob Barr does what the entire nation needs to do - learn the right lessons from earlier misjudgements, discover genuine alternatives and have the courage of his convictions - the convictions on which America was built.

Another tussle ... good for the soul!

While I agree with Georg that McCain's character is suspect, it is only that ... suspect. I'm sure if the media would break away from their marching orders and get up off their Aunt Fannies and dig a little, they would find some juicy tidbits to report but that isn't likely to happen. There seems to be this silent agreement that only trivial salvos are exchanged lest both sides start firing full barrel at each other (I'd love it but both camps know that the public might look elsewhere for their leader).

The character issue will be presented in a polished fashion even to the point of brainwashing by the time the election rolls around. Anyone listening to radio or TV each day will be well-versed in McCainisms by November.

Personally, I will be pushing the angle of his voting record trumping his character as in the previous post (with little success, no doubt). However, Laura is spot on in her political assessment of the situation. People will eat this up. It may be shameful, but they will drink it in like a fine wine.

I read somewhere today about a lady (republican) being interviewed and she said that values shouldn't weigh into the equation too much right now given the circumstances. How convenient. This election is going to be a doozie.

Let's try another possibility--not lying (or dementia), perhaps, but just a total lack of political conviction. We've gone around on this before, Georg, but to say he (or anyone) is lying, requires to my mind a knowledge about someone's motivations. Perhaps--just perhaps--John McCain is not deliberately distorting the truth, but rather is just engaging in "straight talk" and speaking his mind at the time--which is so politically fluid that what he's saying he believes to be the truth at the time--although something else was the truth 2 days ago. That doesn't speak highly for him--and if I were the press, I'd be probing for what he views as his core political principles, and then I'd ask him to reconcile those with various votes

As to Mrs. McCain's statement--that's the kind of thing that is joked about all the time here. In poor taste, perhaps, and probably not indicative of a class that you would want for your First Lady, but I think her goal on Leno's show was to be a little bit funny, and someone probably fed her that line, after feeding Leno the information.

I agree with Eric that issues and record are important--to about 3% of the voting population. Americans just want to feel good about who they're voting for--they don't care what he/she believes.

I guess we're doing a lot of soul cleansing here, huh?

Laura, you are right, especially in suggesting: "... I'd be probing for what he views as his core political principles, and then I'd ask him to reconcile those with various votes..."

I lack the time to always follow up on specific positions presented by McCain or Obama, for that matter, but I begin to feel that one should try to handle specific statements if possible by taking some time to dig deeper. When I do this, most of the time I end up with the most outrageous contradictions on their part amounting in sum to utter lies if one assumed rational and conscious conduct.

Research where McCain really stands on mortagage bail out, or farm subsidies, or Obama on the Iraq war and fundamental issues of empire-building, inevitably you find they do not stand where they pretend to be standing.

I am beginning to get tired of the same old game, i.e. demonstrating that they have knocked themselves out as credible candidates by taking a certain position on this or that vital question, only to find that with respect to another issue they are looked upon once again as serious politician, as if they had not already been shown to be fundamentally unacceptable.

To the extent that I am going to bother with these two candidates at all, I will try to stick with a given issue and dig deeper into the full and true picture (see above).

As for Cindy McCain, she was in a defensive position, the couple had lied to one another (it is beyond me how a public figure, whose biography is easily available, can bring himself to lie about his age to his future wife - I can take this only as indicative of a pathological attitude toward truthfulness), and the press caught them out, so they had to sell the matter as a sweet little inaccuracy. I would be shattered if it turned out my wife had lied to me about her biography, and indeed, a naturally factual aspect of it.

Well, what do you expect of a man who pontificates about the meanest deeds of Al Qaeda, gets corrected while the camera is still focused on him, and then says: oh no, not Al Qaeda, no, all these terrible things where committed by a completely different group. Clearly not taking a personal interest in what he pretends to lecture about with the deepest passion and conviction. This is pathological. And countless examples of this type are available.

Hence, as for character, unless you do not consider the man an imbecile (which clearly would disqualify him), the conclusion can be only: most serious character defect. For if the image that he tries to get across to millions of Americans and people all over the world, every day, and with the benefit of top media visibility, is so clearly at odds with his true capabilities, record, and the full context of his changing statements and actions, the man must be considered incapable of sound judgement and passionately given to misrepresentation and deception, the last thing one would hope for in a president.

Pathological disposition and calculated trickery are both at work - but what ultimately matters is that nowadays you've got to have those qualities to ever stand a chance of becoming President of the United States.

Popular demand for dishonesty in politicians is huge, hence we get these types.

I said this before: the choice that we are facing in politics is between freedom and irrationality, which, I suppose I have to write more fully on.

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