Friday, September 19, 2008

John McCain: new face on the same old swill

John McCain has decided the road to the presidency is paved with pandering to the very people who have made such a mess in Washington. The 72-year-old Republican has compromised the future of this country – if elected – by picking as his running mate a rightwing ideologue whose experience in governance has been serving less than two years as the governor of one of the smallest states in the nation and as the part-time mayor of a town of 5000 people. He suddenly is a populist when the economy begins to tank when the current financial mess is in is largely a result of deregulation of powerful financial interests – policies the distinguished Republican candidate for President has supported and promoted over the past three decades as a Washington insider. He and his fellow-travelers from the Republican Party establishment are chanting a “throw-the-rascals-out” message without bothering to point out they are the rascals that have been in power inside the beltway for the better part of a decade.

They don’t acknowledge the existence of a Republican in the White House or even their own membership in the Republican Party. As Chris Matthews put it, they are taking off their uniforms and running from the political battlefield. McCain and the Republicans in control of our government simply refuse to take any responsibility for their actions.

Melissa McEwan has these observations in the Guardian:

What a difference four years makes. In August of 2004, when he was running for re-election, George Bush turned what had been a nebulous idea encompassing various privatisation and investment ideas into a formal objective, releasing a "fact sheet" detailing his policies that would promote this capitalist utopia known as the "ownership society".

More access and choices in healthcare! More home ownership! More tax relief! It was all about getting the American taxpayers' tax dollars back into their pockets where they belonged so they could buy stuff - because, as Bush explained: "If you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of our country. The more ownership there is in America, the more vitality there is in America, and the more people have a vital stake in the future of this country."

Four years later, millions of Americans are now without healthcare, home foreclosures are skyrocketing, bankruptcy is epidemic and the headlines blare "Nightmare on Wall Street" as the country faces the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The people who were supposed to own a vital stake in America's future by now are lucky if they still own the shirts on their backs.

The ownership society – built on the shoddy foundation of corporate deregulation, unchecked lending, massive deficits and tax cuts during a time of war – has failed.

And its failure is owned by precisely no one.

Bush, once the golden boy of modern conservatism, has now been disowned by the entire Republican party, who are seemingly just as eager to disown the name of the party itself: The words "Bush" and "Republican" were hardly spoken at the Republican National Convention earlier this month. …

… Bush is persona non grata. The ownership society? Never heard of it! Gee, it's a terrible situation we're in – how'd that happen? Well, never mind. Now is not the time to point fingers and lay blame! Let us tell you about a hot little commodity named John McCain.

What is, perhaps, most unrelentingly galling about their affected posture is that, even as they disown, disclaim and distance themselves from Bush's economic policies and promote McCain as some sort of saviour, they refuse to acknowledge that his proposals are just more of the same conservative ├╝berfail that got us into this morass in the first place.

Had he brilliant economic proposals, or even different ones, it might legitimately warrant their abandonment of Bush and his antiquated fiscal sensibilities. But McCain is merely a new face on the same old swill. They won't own it with Bush's name stamped on it, but they'll line up behind near-identical policies in droves, hoping no one will notice – hoping to help sell those policies again to the American people.

It's stunning, really.

The hypocrisy of the personal responsibility brigade brazenly, utterly refusing to take responsibility for this mess, and the irony of these great champions of the ownership society flatly refusing to own the economic policies which have resulted in massive losses among American families, would be positively hilarious if it all weren't so goddamned tragic.

And what of McCain in all this? Once upon a time, he was an honourable man – and, while it's debatable how kinda sorta mavericky he ever really was during the first part of his career in the Senate, it seems fair to suggest there was probably a time when he would have refused to play the role of new-and-improved packaging on economic policies that had been comprehensively disastrous for America.

But the 2000 election left the taste of presidency in his mouth and Karl Rove's bootprint on his back. Whatever decency and integrity there had ever been in the man disappeared in a moment, as he infused with new meaning that dear old chestnut: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. He once said he wouldn't want to lose a war to win an election. His position on losing his soul seems more flexible.

He now stands at the front of the Republican party, poised to lead them back into the White House, given the right number of electoral votes, and he refuses, like all the rest, to accept any responsibility for the current economic crisis, or to own up to the reality that he's got nothing new up his sleeve, nothing that will effectively and significantly alter the course we are already on – a dearth of ideas that, comically, is owed to the unwavering fealty to partisan doctrine he had to affect in order to become his party's nominee, genuflecting to the precious tax cuts that no one wants to own. Not anymore.

So much for the ownership society.

1 comment:

Comrade Kevin said...

McCain in particular has made some boneheaded statements about this Wall Street Crisis that do not bode well for his leadership if elected.