A message for Sen. John McCain

By Emma Claire Sohn

Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain is an undisputed American hero. A fifth generation military legacy, McCain used his prestigious Naval Academy training to escape death three times in Vietnam where he was held a prisoner of war for nearly six years and subjected to torture beyond the comprehension of my callow mind. He has represented the people of Arizona in the US Senate since 1986, breaching the partisan divide for causes he deemed noble – stem cell research and alternative energy sources, to name a few.

The integrity and allegiance Sen. McCain has exhibited in both his personal and professional life lays the foundation for an ideal political figure, which is exactly why his comments on the safety of Iraq last week were deceitful at best.

Following a visit to Baghdad’s al Shorja market last week McCain reported to radio show host Bill Bennett, “There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today,” a statement rendered untrue by the photo-ops snapped during his shopping excursion in which he donned a bullet-proof vest. His claims were further falsified by the 100-man, two-apache helicopter, 10 armored-Humvee brigade which accompanied the senator’s afternoon stroll. Furthermore, they are assertions tragically refuted by the sniper-inflicted deaths of 21 of the market’s employees and regulars the day after McCain’s visit.

The senator reluctantly revoked his statements on a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday night, saying, “Of course I am going to misspeak and I’ve done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future. I regret that when I divert attention to something I said from my message, but you know, that’s just life. I’m happy, frankly, with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun.”

On the topic of the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq, McCain claimed, “Well the war was just very badly mismanaged, there’s ample evidence of that.”

What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular. But in regards to the Iraq war, the Republicans have missed both ideals. We the people demonstrated this with the coup we brought to Congress last November 7.

McCain hasn’t misspoken. He’s just demonstrated the fruits of a lesson hard learned from the victor of his battle in the 2000 primary — an opponent whose pants have been ablaze for the duration of his presidency, a term fueled by propagated misconceptions of the Iraq war.

If a child pockets a pack of bubble gum, the store holds their legal guardian accountable for their wrongdoing simply because the child doesn’t know any better. President Bush cannot be blamed for much of the elaborate architecture of lies propagated by his administration beyond his own ignorance. Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld – these are the misers we must hold truly liable for our offenses in Iraq.

But just as a child comes of age and gains the knowledge needed to differentiate between right and wrong they become responsible for their own individual actions. John McCain should know better than to lie to the American public. His repeated lies and delayed apology is a telltale sign of an impending presidency to be highly influenced by its despicable predecessor.

McCain is now a step above many of his peers in the Republican Party and presidential race. He’s served a more than ample tenure for his country, his own son will ship to Iraq in the coming months, and he was willing to apologize for his lies to the American public, a lofty concept for the Bush administration.

Even so, the Arizona senator succumbed to the same vice which landed America’s finest in Iraq in the first place – boldfaced lies. Every one of them.

Is being less bad really good?

Maybe when you’re playing for the presidency, but not when you’re gambling with the lives of honorable soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians. Shame on you, John McCain for cowering in the face of Bush’s folly, for compromising your consistently noble character and sinking to the level of this inherently flawed administration.