The financial debacle unfolding before America's eyes has caused us to further reflect upon why we find ourselves in such a crisis, and which candidate is most likely to change the policies that contributed to this dire situation. Such reflection requires that we focus our attention on realities rather than unfounded, immobilizing fears. And the stark reality is that despite Senator John McCain's attempts to cast himself as a maverick, his own statements, past decisions, and twenty-six-year voting record convey the fact that he is a follower rather than a leader, and that his judgment is at best questionable.
First and foremost, we know that at a very minimal, a leader is one who is willing to go first rather than simply fall in step with his colleagues. Additionally, a leader must also have the ability to inspire others to follow his or her lead.
Yet, by McCain's own admissions:
- "n]o one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have";
- "[t]he fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush" [in fact, he's voted with President Bush over 90% of the time in the past eight years];
- "we've made great progress economically, in the Bush years"; and
- finally, after eight years of voting with President Bush over 90% of the time, McCain admits within the last week that "the Bush administration has failed," and that he places a great deal of the current financial emergency on the current administration.
What we can glean from McCain's own statements is that he is part and parcel of an administration that is largely responsible for the economic crisis our nation now faces. As explained by Cal Jillson, a notable political scientist at Southern Methodist University, "[n]ow he [McCain] is extraordinarily vulnerable to a 26-year history of being a strong proponent of deregulation, of getting government out of the way and letting markets manage economic growth."
More importantly, McCain's own voting record reveals that he cannot be trusted to be the leopard that all of sudden changes its spots and metamorphisizes into an agent of change. In fact, with the executives of AIG, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Bank of America, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac managing McCain's campaign, it is difficult to believe that he will wholeheartedly support strict regulation of their activities.
Additionally, McCain's comments regarding the economy throughout the course of this election season reveals that he is quite dismissive of voters' concerns, as well as out-of-touch with the day-to-day challenges of the average American. For example,
- "it's not social issues I care about";
- "[i]t's easy for me to go to Washington and, frankly, be somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have" [Sept. 11, 2008];
- "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated";
- "[t]he issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should";
- "I understand the economy. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversights every part of our economy" [Sept. 16, 2008 -- the Senate Banking Committee is actually responsible for credit, financial services, and housing, and they are all currently facing a crisis]; and
- " [o]ur economy, I think, is still -- the fundamentals of our economy are strong" [Sept. 15, 2008]; and