Jan 312008
Authors: Joseph Haynie

This past summer, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential hopes seemed to be all but done.

With the decisive victory in Florida this past Tuesday, the Arizona senator, and now undisputed frontrunner, seems to be in a good position to become the Republican presidential nomination.

However, despite his victories, and to no surprise, he still hasn’t managed to rally the conservative base behind his Straight Talk Express.

Throughout the debates, McCain has been dull, repetitive and far from engaging. When he’s not lulling the viewers to sleep, he is disruptive, surly and not-so-presidential.

What he lacks, his opponents, oddly enough, possess.

Unlike McCain, Ron Paul is passionate. Mitt Romney is presidential and well spoken. Mike Huckabee — one more reason not to trust a politician from Hope, Arkansas — is whimsical and folksy, the exact opposite of the hawkish McCain’s crotchetiness.

Despite lacking these qualities, McCain is still the frontrunner. How can this be?

In Wednesday’s debate in California, when asked what qualified him to be president, McCain responded in similar fashion as John Kerry did at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Touting his military record, McCain said that because he led the largest attack squadron in the Navy 30 years ago he is now capable of leading the country.

He cleverly failed to mention that his squadron was located in Florida at the time and never flew combat missions.

Military strategy and expertise is learned in classrooms — McCain graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy. Valuable experience is gained in the trenches and along the frontlines.

Moreover, aside from being a marvelous story of heroism and selflessness, how does spending six years in a POW camp qualify one to be the most powerful man in the world?

Like Kerry before him, who reported to duty, only later to be left behind by his constituents, McCain runs the risk of succumbing to the same fate.

He may be able to fight radical Islamic terrorists, but America faces more perils than crazy fundamentalists. With a poor economy and porous borders, America is looking for someone who is well-rounded and capable of solving all of our problems, both foreign and domestic.

The fact of the matter is, McCain has been a senator longer than he has been a soldier. Senators know how to talk and spend money — they don’t know how to run a government.

If elected, he won’t be able to change Washington, because he is Washington!

It has been said that for conservatives to accept McCain as the nominee, they will need to pinch their noses. A hazmat suit would be more like it.

The frustrations of many conservatives with McCain were summed up well by Larry Thornberry of Zogby International.

“He’s as red, white, and blue as they come,” he wrote.

Indeed he is. He’s one part Republican; one part Independent; and one part Democrat. His staunch support for the War on Terror has many on the right concerned about national security excited.

His support for liberal bills (McCain-Feingold and McCain-Kennedy) has frustrated many conservatives while intriguing many on the Democrats at the same time.

His willingness to jump party lines has garnered a lot of support among the Independent electorate.

This behavior shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, what else would we expect from a self-proclaimed maverick?

Is this the best we have? With all of the candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring, this is the man conservatives are supposed to rally behind? He’s supposed to be the one that will defeat the Democrats? You got to be kidding me.

Joseph Haynie is a senior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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