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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    John McCain: A man divided

    “”They (Democrats) offer no alternative. They offer no scenario as to what happens next (in Iraq).””

    ð- John McCain, in an interview with The New York Times Thursday.

    “”I have no Plan B.””

    – McCain, same interview

    For years, John McCain has trotted out the hoary joke that “”presidential ambition is a disease that can only be cured by embalming fluid.”” In recent weeks, however, the joke has become more poignant. McCain acts like he’s been drinking the stuff.

    McCain’s absurd stroll around a Baghdad market, attempting to show that the so-called “”surge”” of American soldiers is working, is a prime example. McCain famously stepped on his own point by wearing a bulletproof vest and walking inside a protective bubble of soldiers, snipers and gunships.

    It was just another in McCain’s ongoing series of humiliations that are shriveling him from American Hero to Gollum. He is perhaps the saddest example of how brushing the White House with one’s fingertips can destroy a person.

    After winning the 2000 New Hampshire primary, McCain probably began to hear “”Hail to the Chief”” in his head every time he entered a room. Receiving a daily tongue bath from reporters on his “”Straight Talk Express”” bus couldn’t have helped keep him grounded. Unlike Al Gore, he couldn’t walk away.

    Since his 2000 flameout, McCain has lowered himself to ridiculously transparent pandering in an effort to win over the social conservatives who rejected him. On abortion, gay marriage, the Confederate flag, tax cuts and more, McCain has reversed course as he oozes up to the Bible-thumping activists he once denounced.

    Unfortunately for McCain, conservatives are not as stupid as he thinks they are. His campaign is teetering on the brink of disaster. His fundraising is abysmal. Worse yet, a recent Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll showed him trailing not only former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, but also the guy from “”Law and Order,”” Fred Thompson. And Thompson isn’t even a candidate. Once again, conservatives are rejecting him. His sucking up seems to be for nothing.

    Amidst all of this pandering, McCain’s adamant support for escalating the Iraq war is baffling. Polls show that 60 percent of Americans want to reduce the number of troops in Iraq or pull them out completely. Why would McCain support this if he is so bent on winning the presidency?

    Well, consider that about two-thirds of Republicans support Bush’s policy in Iraq. Those are the people most likely to vote in the primaries, which means those are the people McCain must capture if his campaign is going to continue. Banging the war drum and accusing Democrats of wishing for defeat will help him win over this small minority when he needs them most.

    Ever the cynical politician, McCain has left himself an out he can use in the general election: if the surge doesn’t work, the American people “”will demand that we get out.”” Of course, that’s what we’re demanding right now, but first McCain wants to give the surge a chance to work.

    How long will it take to know if the surge is working? Some months, according to McCain. Will we know before the primaries? McCain doesn’t know.

    It’s a safe bet, I think, that if his pandering to the pro-war primary voters somehow succeeds, nominee McCain will quickly decide that the surge is failing and it is time to withdraw from Iraq.

    In that sense, McCain is telling the truth when he says there is no Plan B. Withdrawal is Plan A.

    McCain can count, and he knows that fatigue with Bush’s world-historic incompetence might flip Ohio and Florida to the Democratic nominee. Promising to pull out of Iraq is the only way to win the presidency, and McCain will do whatever it takes to win.

    American soldiers, meanwhile, will donate their limbs and lives to his campaign. We can only hope that, like Gollum, McCain’s candidacy melts into a fiery puddle.

    Shane Ham is a first-year law student. He can be reached at

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