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You have an opinion, but do you have what it takes to be heard?

Ted Reinstein
Holliston, MA

Ted Reinstein

I've taken a passionate approach to understanding issues in my job as a reporter. Now I'd like the opportunity to defend my positions.

On McCain, unplugged

Editor's note: For Thursday morning's post, the contestants were asked to revisit one of their earlier posts and respond to a commenter.


On Wednesday morning, we were asked to write something that could become a regular feature.  I came up with "Mind-Mouth-Unplugged," which would feature the week's most glaring example of the old, "I probably shoulda thought before I said that" moment.


I singled out Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for his extraordinarily nasty remarks about his colleague, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. 


McCain was in California campaigning for Boxer's opponent, Republican nominee Carly Fiorina.  Speaking of Boxer, McCain said, "When you hear her say she supports the men and women in the military, my friends, she does not...Barbara Boxer wants to wave the white flag of surrender and endanger this nation's national security."  Not done with Boxer, McCain added for emphasis, "I've had the unpleasant experience of having to serve with her."


I thought the words were unusually personal remarkably thoughtless for a man once associated with a more noble and civil style of politics.


TERMITEAVENGER, however, disagreed:


"McCain isn't living up to his standards because he thinks Boxer
is soft on military support? Funny for someone who is from MA,

but that thought isn't anything new to us in California."


While I'll concede that, as a Californian, you're undoubtedly more familiar with Boxer's record than most of us in Massachusetts, I'd also say I found nothing funny whatsoever about McCain's remarks.  I found them appalling.   


Furthermore, TERMITEAVENGER, you seem to have concluded that my disappointment with McCain was because he criticized Boxer for being "soft on military support."  Perhaps I was not clear enough in my post.  So let me be clearer now.


In his remarks about Boxer, McCain was not living up to the standards that he himself

has publicly called for.  As recently as last March, McCain pleaded for political civility, saying, "There is a lot of anger and passion out there...let's change that into a spirited and healthy respectful campaign season between Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives...let's really go at it, but let's do it with respect."


Maybe it's me, but I think stopping just an inch or so short of accusing a sitting U.S. Senator's voting record as tantamount to treason, is not exactly acting on your own call for mutual respect on the campaign trail.


Yes, Boxer is a Liberal Democrat who has not traditionally not been the Pentagon's most ardent defender.  She was one of 23 Senators (and 133 House members) to vote against the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.  So did Jack Reed (D-RI) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI), both decorated veterans who McCain is proud to call his friends.  The late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), himself a veteran and a man McCain admired, also voted against the resolution.  Kennedy's record was most certainly no less liberal than Barbara Boxer's.


What's more, "soft on military support" may be a relative thing.  Ironically, it is Barbara Boxer, not her Republican opponent, who has received (despite some internal dissent) the endorsement of the political action committee for the VFW -- the nation's largest organization of combat veterans.


No, McCain did not live up to his standards in disrespecting a colleague, and he has not been living up to those standards for some time now.  In a Republican presidential debate in 2007, McCain refused to outdo his opponents over who was tougher on illegal immigrants.  McCain, who had worked hard to forge a bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill with Ted Kennedy, reminded us that, "Illegal immigrants are God's children, too."


That was respect.


That was already gone this past summer when McCain, locked in a nasty reelection battle of his own in Arizona, led a Republican filibuster against the DREAM Act--a bill he himself originally co-sponsored (with Kennedy)--that would create a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.


My point?


McCain's remarks about Barbara Boxer were not only indefensible, they were further sad evidence of a once-principled man's sad slide into the same mean and cynical politics he once asked us to rise above.  Before he made them, he should have thought not simply of Boxer, but of himself.


Read more entries from this round. See what the judges think. And cast your vote on Friday.  

By Ted Reinstein  |  October 21, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  | Category:  Blogging Challenge
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I agree with ARMYBRAT1

Posted by: realitybased1 | October 22, 2010 10:34 AM
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This was too long for me, but some good points.

Posted by: martymar123 | October 22, 2010 7:21 AM
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Well said - this time. Yes, you needed to clear it up and you did. Bam, right between the eyes. No waffling. Good work.

Posted by: chucky-el | October 21, 2010 10:15 PM
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Ah, but this explanation is very different from "mind-mouth-unplugged." This is an acknowledgment that McCain is changing, and he is becoming more like other politicians when he used to be different. And this disappoints you. Frankly, it disappoints me as well. However, it could simply be a case of his reacting to a changing world, and being tired of being bashed from all sides, and yes he wants to keep his job. When McCain ran in '00, the Bush forces started the SC rumors about the "black child" and cast aspersions about his "true" behavior in POW camps. When he ran in '08, he took an endless barrage of "McBush" and "McSame" taunts, and very little recognition of his accomplishments, from the left. So, disappointing as it may be, maybe he now feels that after taking abuse all this time, it's time to dish some out. But that's very different from "mind-mouth-unplugged.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | October 21, 2010 2:08 PM
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