Every time I hear the media say Sen. John McCain "of Arizona" it makes me crazy. McCain has done as little for Arizona as possible and it shows. The state is Mississippi in the Southwest, an Appalachia with golf courses, the epicenter of a brewing socio-environmental calamity. It is a place frighteningly behind in the competitive world of the 21st century, however much it provides a haven for a certain kind of rich person and, until recently, for real-estate players. Arizona was never anything but a national political platform for McCain.
If McCain had been governor, his apathy would be an especially tempting target. Even so, as a senator he has done as little as possible in education, research, transportation, health care, the environment...the list goes on and on. Most days one wondered if Arizona even had senators representing it, rather than trying to be national political figures.
McCain a "maverick"? A maverick would have been pushing to rebuild American's passenger-train system as an essential step in easing oil dependency and combating global warming (not to mention traffic congestion). Instead, McCain has waged a vendetta against Amtrak, not to reform but to kill it. Real straight talk would have told Arizonans they can't keep building subdivisions in the forests and avoid the consequences of fires. It would have rallied the state to protect its environment rather than to turn it into a vast grotesque strip mall. Not Sen. McCain.
At this point, so-called conservatives are saying, "Yeah! That's just what we want! Property rights! Tax cuts! Yahyahyah!!..."
So why do I keep hearing that so many so-called conservatives hate McCain, or mistrust McCain? I guess it's a sign of what conservatism has become: a doctrine as rigid and "faith based" as communism in its day, and far from the body of ideas that animated Barry Goldwater -- a man truly "of Arizona."
McCain differed from the rigid party line on immigration. Big deal. Here the fire breathers want a pony: a cheap Arizona economy without the brown people who make it possible. Taxes? After rightly saying it was unprecedented for the nation to cut taxes in wartime, McCain retreated and now is another tiresome tax cutter who will "cut the budget."
Unlike the chicken-hawks, McCain is a genuine military hero and understands the seriousness of sending Americans to war. Yet here, too, he seems to promise more of the same in the Middle East. We need a serious discussion about withdrawal from Iraq and its consequences, but no candidate, right or left, is offering it. McCain apparently believes we can sustain this self-inflicted wound for 100 years.
Indeed, the more he panders to so-called conservatives, the less he has even the ashes of independence left in his campaign kitbag. So the right will embrace him, because the right loves power more than even rigid doctrine, and especially the overwhelming power that has accrued to corporate interests over 25 years.
The big question is whether the media will truthfully report on McCain's record and policy proposals. So far, they're still in love. I can't even imagine another four years of the catastrophic policies the senator proposes to continue if he makes it to the White House.