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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

John McCain: Political Hack

John McCain: Political Hack

In my business I have had the opportunity to meet lots of politicians. To a great extent, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, they are all about the same. Their primary purpose in life is to promote themselves and grab the highest office they can acquire. Putting them into one lump, they are about the most self-serving group of people you will ever meet. Don’t get me wrong. There are exceptions on both sides of the aisle, but for the general run-of-the-mill politician, public service is about as far apart as the North Pole is from the South Pole. They are generally more interested in the perks of the office than the people they serve. It says in the US Constitution that there will be no royalty, but as Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." They have special parking places at the airports, all expense paid junkets around the world, limousines at their beckon call, and special treatment that common people like you and I just don’t receive.

Some have even gone way beyond the pale to exercise their power to obtain perks and privileges their colleagues don’t have. Mike Mansfield was at the top of the pyramid when it came to getting the very best the taxpayers could provide. While he was Majority Leader of the US Senate he lived like royalty. And because of the power he wielded, he was able to force airlines to provide nonstop service from Washington, DC to Helena, Montana (I believe it was TWA that took one for the airline industry so that Prince Mike would take care of them). As you might imagine, a flight from Dulles Airport to Helena, Montana is not exactly a high traffic, money making route, but to appease the Senator, TWA made sure Prince Mike had his flight on his schedule to Helena.

More recently, John McCain one-upped Prince Mike. You see, the Senator didn’t like the fact that he had to travel all the way to Dulles to catch a nonstop flight to Phoenix, Arizona. What an ordeal! The fact that the regulations at close in Reagan National Airport did not allow cross country flights didn’t deter Senator McCain. Nope. He got the regs changed and here’s how he did it.

It seems that Dulles was in the process of adding underground rail transportation for the more than 30 million passengers who use the airport annually (it’s the most used airport in the DC area). This, of course, entailed building an underground tunnel to house the train. The project began several years back and has not opened yet, but is scheduled to do so in 2009, although it is well behind schedule.

One of the reasons it’s behind schedule is because His Excellency, Senator McCain, put a "hold" on construction until the Federal Aviation Administration could figure out a way for him to fly nonstop from Reagan Airport to Phoenix. Well, it took about six months, but the FAA "found out a way" to change the situation so that the Senator could have his nonstop flight to Phoenix. It didn’t matter to McCain that millions of air travelers suffered inconvenience for six additional months. What counted was getting the privileged service he deserved.

This is the same Senator McCain that has played the role of a maverick in the Senate voting against President Bush’s tax cuts, holding up judicial nominations, and authoring the onerous and unconstitutional McCain-Feingold law that restricts your free speech and mine, but not that of the drive-by media. Why did Senator McCain care about "campaign reform?" He didn’t and he doesn’t. But he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar as a member of the Keating Five and this was the only way he could get the heat off of himself.

I honor Senator McCain for his faithful service to his country as a POW. As the son of the CINCPAC Commander he suffered some of the worst abuse when he was imprisoned. But in light of his character and lack of understanding of the way a free society works, his military service, as great as it was, hardly qualifies him to be President of the United States.

As full disclosure, more than 20 years ago, I appeared voluntarily in front of a special committee set up by John McCain and his good friend, John Kerry. Both of these Vietnam veterans were catching heat for doing nothing in regard to the possibility of Americans still being held captive in North Vietnam. One of those they were catching heat from was my client, the late Colonel Jack Bailey (USAF), who, several years after being a client, did some things that were questionable. 

Anyway, instead of holding hearings to look into the stories that Americans might still be held captive, the Johns decided to go after the organizations who were pressing them for answers and after their fund raisers. It was a typical McCain-Kerry stunt and it turned out to be a bust, but it was good air time for the self righteous. So if you wonder why I feel no sympathy for John McCain in his passionate pursuit of the White House, that’s admittedly part of the reason. But make no mistake about it, John McCain is no conservative. He stands for one thing and one thing only—John McCain.

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