It was one of this election season’s most surreal moments. Right about the time the other night that Barack Obama was clinching the Democratic nomination, a reanimated corpse Sen. John McCain took the podium in Kenner, Louisiana to regale an audience of literally several on the virtues of … change?
Okay, okay – that’ll be enough of that. Sure, Sen. McCain has a few miles on him, and yes, if he were elected he’d be the oldest person to ever hold the office of president. There’s even a Web site dedicated to making fun of his age by pointing out all the things that are younger than McCain. For instance:
- the margarita
- the peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- automatic transmission
- the US Flag Code
- Ron Paul
- Woman’s Day Magazine
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- the Zip Code
- the Area Code
- duct tape
- the 12 steps of AA
- minimum wage
- the Golden Gate Bridge
- chocolate chip cookies
- Mt. Rushmore
- Keith Richards
- DNA (well, the discovery of DNA, anyway)
- Ronald Reagan during his presidential years
- the AARP
I think this meme is catching on, too, because everywhere I turn I hear people joking about it. Complete strangers come up to me in the street and say things like “John McCain is so old that his first job was helping build the pyramids.” A waitress at my coffee shop the other day informed me that McCain is so old he has an autographed Bible. The bartender over at the Chop House says McCain is so old his first Christmas was the first Christmas. It goes on and on. According to the wiseasses McCain is so old:
- he learned to write using hieroglyphics.
- his prom date’s dad was a Roman centurion.
- his first driver’s license photo was a cave painting.
- he took driver’s ed in a chariot.
- he was one of the beta-testers when they invented dirt.
- his memory is in black and white.
- he learned to tell time on a sundial.
- his first-grade spelling book was a stone tablet.
- when he was a kid he had a pet dinosaur.
- his prom date was Cleopatra.
- he has all the apostles in his Rolodex.
- Jurassic Park brought back memories.
- his birth-certificate expired.
- he has a picture of Moses in his high school yearbook.
- when he was in school they didn’t have a history class.
- he planted the first tree at Central Park.
I really can’t endorse all this, even in cases where the accusations are potentially accurate. After all, I’m hardly one to complain about someone’s age. Besides, age isn’t really the issue. I can think of people older than McCain who’d make fine presidents and America has millions in the prime of life who really shouldn’t be allowed outdoors off-leash.
No, the issue isn’t that Sen. McCain is so old his Social Security number is 1. Instead, it has to do with the plausibility of his me-too rhetoric of “change” in light of a well established record of … not change. Hardly a day passes without further evidence that McCain’s presidency would be little more than a continuation (or expansion) of Bush’s imperial executive reign of error. Just this morning, for instance, the NY Times reported this:
A top adviser to Senator John McCain says Mr. McCain believes that President Bushâ€™s program of wiretapping without warrants was lawful, a position that appears to bring him into closer alignment with the sweeping theories of executive authority pushed by the Bush administration legal team.
That doesn’t sound like change. (And change notwithstanding, it also doesn’t sound like a very good idea for a nation that [cue Lee Greenwood] prattles endlessly about its dedication to liberty.)
Bush certainly sounds convinced that no change is forthcoming. McCain Source catalogues the litany of continuity by noting the president’s assertion “that McCain would be the best to carry forth his agenda.” On “100 More Years” McCain’s foreign policy: “he’s not going to change when it comes to taking on the enemy.” And this bit is priceless:
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Harball,” Chris Matthews asked McCain, “Does the president notice the pattern of your extreme loyalty to him?” McCain said, “I call him every day and try to remind him.” [MSNBC, Hardball, 3/13/06]
We find even less evidence of McCain’s fervor for change when we examine his record of support for Bush’s judicial nominees. According to People for the American Way, McCain has voted to confirm every one of Bush’s appointments. All of them. So if you like Bush’s judges and “Justices” Alito and Roberts, you’re probably going to be okay with four more years of the same.
And so long as we’re looking at voting records and how closely McCain aligns with his mentor, what percentage of the time do you think Sen. John McCain voted to support Bush’s positions on issues facing the Senate in 2008? Go ahead, take a shot.
You ready? That’s right: 100%. Granted, he was a bit more maverick-like in 2007, when the number was only 95%.
But over the course of a year – 100%. And not just any year, but an election year in which he’s trying to brand himself as a straight-talking, straight-shooting, express-driving maverick sonuvagun who kowtows to nobody, you lily-livered sodbuster. I don’t know about you, but I don’t agree with myself 100% of the time.
So call me cynical. I suppose it’s possible that, upon inauguration, McCain could morph into the second coming of FDR. Anything’s possible in politics, which is, after all, the art of the possible. But only a moron walks into the voting booth more fixated on possibility than plausibility.
Fortunately for McCain, America is just packed to the rafters with morons, and their votes count as much as everybody else’s.
Yes, we should be cautious of the change rhetoric offered by Sen. Obama, as well, because his record to date hasn’t been exactly revolutionary. But where his promises of change should be met with critical questioning, McCain’s ought to be met with thunderous laughter.
Not because he’s old. Because he’s lying.