The N.Y. Times carries an interesting interview with John McCain, in which he claims the mantle of Teddy Roosevelt. The Republican candidate would like us to think of Teddy Roosevelt’s fierce commitment to environmental conservation when we contemplate McCain’s candidacy. The only problem is that even if McCain is a different kind of Republican when it comes to the environment (which is highly debatable), the claim is ludicrous on its face. Roosevelt inspired an environmental consciousness in American society. What has McCain done that is ground-breaking on that score?
Not to mention the fact that Roosevelt was a true reformer who didn’t hesitate to take on the corporate trusts to break up powerful business monopolies. As president, he also championed the little man against the power of the corporate elite. What can McCain say that he has done to this end? What would TR make of a presidential candidate whose staff has been riddled with highly paid corporate lobbyists?
The aptness to the comparison may be in their respective war records. Roosevelt was known for his willingness to project American power during a period of rising colonial aspirations. No doubt Roosevelt was a warrior as was McCain. But unlike McCain, Roosevelt also won a Nobel Prize for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War. What peacemaking credentials does McCain have?
The N.Y. Times interview also ranged over social issues, where McCain is attempting to curry favor with social conservatives. He made this lame comment on the issue of gay adoption:
Mr. McCain, who with his wife, Cindy, has an adopted daughter, said flatly that he opposed allowing gay couples to adopt. “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption,” he said.
Someone will have to explain to me why two loving gay parents are any different than a loving father and mother. McCain seems to think there is something intrinsically different in the equation. I just don’t see it. As I got to thinking about this, why does McCain have a position on this at all? It’s not a federal issue.
The article continues with a discussion of same-sex marriage, and there, I notice, McCain DOES make a distinction by saying that while he personally opposes it, he would leave the issue to the states to administer. So why the difference between gay marriage and gay adoption?
McCain also put his foot in it last week by suggesting it is a good thing the U.S. has expanded exports of cigarettes to Iran since they will likely kill more Iranians that way:
Last week, McCain was asked about an Associated Press report that the U.S. exported $158 million worth of cigarettes to Iran during the Bush administration in spite of restrictions on U.S. imports.
“Maybe that’s a way of killing them,” McCain said.
Now, that’s a statement you’d certainly expect of Teddy Roosevelt, right? TR didn’t mind killing America’s enemies on the battlefield, but killing them with cancer candy whose sales line the pockets of the tobacco industry would’ve been anathema to him.
* What’s missing from the picture? Black or Hispanic faces, for one. I understand that the rally was in Hudson, WI and that there may not be many minorities in that part of Wisconsin. But I still think it’s telling that John McCain has major campaign rallies with nary a black or brown face in sight.