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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Where is the McCain of yesteryear?

    Senator’s call for renewed war on drugs a cheap tactic

    It came as no surprise to read recently that Sen. John McCain may not even capture his own state in his party’s presidential primary. Arizona has always had a bad track record with presidential candidates (see Goldwater in 1964, Udall in ’76, Bruce Babbitt in ’88). McCain has seriously hurt his credibility with liberals, moderates and even many conservatives with his unflinching support for the Iraq War.

    It is a surprise, though, to see the latest tactic he’s using to try to shore up that sagging support.

    On Sunday, McCain told an Iowa audience that the country needed to focus harder on securing the U.S.-Mexico border and ramp up the long-running war on drugs in the process.

    “”The war on terror has taken some of our attention off the drug problem, drug cartels, and by many measurements they are getting a lot stronger, rather than weaker,”” McCain said. “”I think it’s damaging to our national security when the drug usage is up.””

    It’s hard to follow the logic here. Yes, widespread drug use is a problem. But a threat to our national security? Drunken driving is also a problem, but no one has ever suggested it gives aid and comfort to terrorists.

    A more courageous politician might suggest that the United States has already poured billions into the war on drugs, without significantly reducing the number of drug users in the country. He might also suggest that the United States ought to restrict itself to, in Lincoln’s words, “”one war at a time.”” But McCain criticizes one war by calling for two more – a renewed war on drugs and a war on the border.

    How does McCain propose to make our borders safe? Extensive use of “”high technology,”” specifically fences and walls in urban areas and unmanned aerial vehicles and remote cameras in rural, unpopulated zones.

    It might sound good on paper, but in reality, this would almost certainly translate into a lot of money being funneled into an overblown system that probably wouldn’t work as well as what we’ve already got. And it sounds familiar – pouring billions into a futile “”war.””

    Besides, turning the entire Southwest into an Orwellian surveillance zone probably isn’t the best way to deal with a slow, steady trickle of impoverished immigrants flowing across the border.

    At best, McCain’s proposal reeks of disingenuous posturing. At worst, it seems like a desperate politician’s bid to revive his ailing career by any means necessary. (According to the Arizona Daily Star, McCain’s popularity in his home state has dropped 20 points since February, leaving him just about level with his fellow Republican contenders.)

    It’s a far cry from the McCain of 2000, who made his reputation by standing up to party insiders and speaking from the heart. He showed some of that old courage in New Hampshire recently, defending Arizona’s love of its Hispanic culture against a woman who asked him why he didn’t support a Constitutional amendment to make English the official language.

    “”In my state of Arizona, we like the Hispanic heritage. We like the food. We like the music. We like to have Hispanic influence on our state, and we are enriched by it,”” McCain said. “”I understand your concern that our traditions and our culture and background are being overwhelmed by another culture, but I believe we’re stronger than that.””

    That’s the McCain many Arizonans, even many liberals, were proud to call their own. Sadly, that McCain has been in short supply lately. We liked the straight-talker, not the triangulating vote-seeker.

    OPINIONS BOARD:Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Sarah Keeler, Jerry Simmons, Connor Mendenhall and Allison Dumka.

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