Information icon.svg The 2018 moderator elections: Read the campaign slogans here! Voting begins 19 November 2018.
Bronze-level article

John McCain

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

John McCain is a war hero because he was captured, I like people that weren't captured.
Donald Trump[1]
John McCain at the U.S. Naval Academy, 1954.

Guide to:
U.S. Politics
Icon politics USA.svg
Hail to the Chief?
Persons of interest

Jonathan Sidney "John" McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was a Vietnam War veteran, former Navy lobbyist[2], the senior senator from Arizona from 1987 - 2018, and the Republican Party's candidate for the Presidency of the USA in 2008.[3] He lost decisively to Barack Obama. McCain's running mate was Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.[4]

After his defeat, McCain and his sidekick Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina devoted themselves to complaining about President Obama's "soft" foreign policy. However, when Obama was replaced by Donald Trump, they became Trump's most outspoken critics within his own party.[5]

He succumbed to a brain tumor a day after ending treatment. He was 81 years old.[6]

Domestic policy positions[edit]

John McCain (b. 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone) was a strong force for ostensible moderation in the GOP. Over the years, he was vital in crafting bipartisan support for generally supported initiatives, including the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCFRA).[note 1] McCain also once stood up against the American Religious Right, referring to them as agents of intolerance.[7] These sensible, moderate policies made him persona non grata among extremists, earning hate and scorn from Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity.[8][note 2] When running for President in 2008, he stood up to some of his constituents making unsubstantiated allegations against Barack Obama, saying he was a decent man.[9] He was the de facto leader of right-wing opposition to the Trump administration, and he was the deciding 51st vote to not repeal Obamacare.[10][11][12] The moment McCain gave a thumb down was quite dramatic.[13]

McCain knew about Paul Manafort's connection to Russia and prevented him from running the 2008 RNC.[14] This is worth pointing out because Manafort served as chairman for the 2016 Presidential Campaign of Donald Trump, who is being investigated for his ties with Russia.

McCain also condemned Trump for pardoning Joe Arpaio, who was/is known for discrimination toward Latinos, staging an assassination plot during his re-election bid, causing one man to spend four years in jail awaiting trial because of it, and let one teenager be repeatedly raped by her uncle for four years.[15][16]

His unofficial economic advisor is Phil Gramm, chief architect of the Enron collapse and sub-prime mortgage crisis.[citation needed]

He chose Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate,[note 3] who would have become president in the possible event that McCain died of old age while in office.

John McCain voted for the 2017 Republican tax bill,[17] and is opposed to net neutrality.[18]

He was devoutly anti-abortion and wanted to defund Planned Parenthood.[19] A President McCain would have nominated Justices who would be all too eager to torpedo the right to choose and other important precedents.[20]

John McCain thought emergency rooms are a good way to get health care and that no one in America is technically uninsured.[21]

In the midst of multiple SCOTUS retirements or plausible soon-to-be retirements around the time of the 2008 election cycle, the question was – who would a hypothetical President McCain have nominated to the Supreme Court? It was not a good picture. For all of his maverick political style and independence on some issues, McCain — like any Republican — would have been beholden to the Religious Right for re-election, and for political clout. This meant that his caves to the Religious Right were the beginning, rather than the end, and they were not outliers.

Also, McCain aligned himself with some true nutjobs, including John Hagee, who blamed the gays for Hurricane Katrina,[22] and Rod Parsley, who believes the United States was founded in part to destroy Islam.[citation needed]

Military and foreign policy positions[edit]

In the Senate in 2009 McCain has moved to the right, shedding his maverick image with full-throated attacks on the Democrats' proposals for health care reform, cap-and-trade environmental taxes, and wasteful stimulus spending, while supporting President Obama's aggressive policies in the Afghanistan War.

He modified many of his positions rightward when he became a presidential candidate. While he was no George W. Bush, Americans did not want four more years of the policies of Bush's policies, from failed tax cuts to continuing the war in Iraq, and (at least attempting to) privatize Social Security.

He wants the U.S. military to police the entire Middle East to make it safe for Saudi Arabia, the other authoritarian Arab monarchies and Israel. Ergo, he wanted to bomb Iran.[24][25]

He supported Don't Ask, Don't Tell,[26] attacking President Obama by insisting that he believes in honoring all of the US troops — and because of that the US needed to keep DADT in place.

He was a strong opponent of torture, having suffered a similar fate, in North Vietnamese internment which has earned him the title of "war hero."[27]

Eligibility for the Presidency[edit]

To the chagrin of Birthers, John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, which is now part of the Republic of Panama and was once a U.S. protectorate but never really part of the U.S. At best its status was similar to that of the Swan Islands (now part of Honduras), or Palau (now an independent nation). However, the Supreme Court decided that nobody cared, and said that it didn't matter, because his parents were off playing Navy in Panama during the whole thing.

As a Panamanian-American, it was questionable whether McCain is eligible to assume office if he was elected. This question came up previously with regard to Barry Goldwater (born in the Arizona Territory before it was admitted as a state), and George Romney (born in Mexico to U.S. Mormon expat parents), but since both were failed candidacies the courts have never had the opportunity to decide whether a natural born citizen is limited to those born within any of the states.[note 4] Many are generally of the opinion, however, that if someone was born a citizen, that would qualify for the "natural-born" requirement, whether it was within the US or not.

The Senator's new mind[edit]

John McCain has changed his mind on multiple issues.

  • McCain used to criticize TV preacher Jerry Falwell, but has later decided to cozy up to the man, agreeing to be the graduation speaker at Falwell's Liberty University on May 13, 2006.[28]
  • McCain opposed Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy, but reversed course in February 2006.[29]
  • In 2000, McCain accused Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly of being corrupt, spending “dirty money” to help finance Bush’s presidential campaign. McCain not only filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law, he also lashed out at them publicly. In April of 2006, McCain reached out to the Wylys for support.[30]
  • McCain took a firm line in opposition to torture, and then caved to White House demands.[31]
  • McCain was against presidential candidates campaigning at Bob Jones University before he was for it.[32]
  • McCain was anti-ethanol before becoming pro-ethanol.[33]
  • McCain was both for and against state promotion of the Confederate flag.[34]
  • He was both for and against overturning Roe v. Wade.[citation needed]
  • Due to being a product of a POW swap at the end of the Vietnam War,[35] it's not a surprise that McCain pressed to exchange Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Try guessing how he reacted when the move would result in a diplomatic win for Obama.[36]


John McCain and Lindsey Graham with U.S. troops in Iraq.

On missions and their accomplishment[edit]

Neil Cavuto: ... Senator -- after a conflict means after the conflict, and many argue the conflict isn't over.
Senator McCain: Well, then why was there a banner that said 'mission accomplished' on the aircraft carrier? ... The conflict -- the major conflict is over, the regime change has been accomplished...
—June 11, 2003, on Fox News.[37]
This is a mission accomplished.
—December 14, on ABC's This Week, referring to the capture of Saddam Hussein.
I don't know if you could ever say, quote 'mission accomplished,' as much as you could say 'Americans are out of harm's way.' And that's the key to America's concern — casualties.
—May 1, 2008, at a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.[38]

On modern peace and war[edit]

In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations.
—John McCain, on the Russo-Georgian war.[39]
The world is in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime.
—John McCain, on being born in 1936.[40]
[He] used to say talk softly, but carry a big stick...what you’re doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick, in fact, a twig.
—John McCain, calling Teddy Roosevelt "my hero."[41]
Most naive president in history.
—John McCain, on Obama's response after Russia invaded Ukraine on a trumped-up pretext.[42]

On America's allies[edit]

You know, the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who is still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it.
—John McCain, on foreign relations.[43]
I feel badly about the British, they're our dear friends, but they’re no longer a world power. It’s just a fact of life.
—John McCain, on the United Kingdom.[44]

On America's enemies[edit]

This is a victory for the president, the Obama administration.
—On the death of Gaddafi.[45]

On US healthcare[edit]

I want the families to make the decisions between themselves and their doctors; not the federal government
—John McCain, on why he opposes universal healthcare.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. Later ruled unconstitutional in the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court decision. See Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC S. Ct. 2007.
  2. Nonetheless, Hannity took the "pragmatic" approach and jumped behind (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) McCain wholeheartedly.
  3. Although some theorized that she was forced on him by the fundamentalist base in his party.
  4. What about somebody born in Washington, D.C.?


  2. When John McCain turned to politics, he went all-out, Los Angeles Times
  3. The McCain Math, The New York Times
  4. McCain picks female running mate, BBC News
  5. McCain, Graham torment Trump
  6. John McCain: Vietnam Veteran And Six-term Senator Dies At 81. BBC News. August 26, 2018.
  7. Republican Says Bush Panders To the 'Agents of Intolerance': McCain Takes Aim At Religious Right, The New York Times
  8. [1]
  9. Flashback: McCain tells supporter Obama is 'a decent... CNN. February 19, 2015.
  10. Obamacare Repeal Fails: Three GOP Senators Rebel in 49-51 Vote, NBC News
  11. GOP Obamacare repeal bill fails in dramatic late-night vote, CNN Politics
  12. Senate rejects Obamacare repeal, Politico
  13. McCain votes 'no' on Obamacare repeal. CNN. July 28, 2017.
  14. John McCain Reportedly Knew About Paul Manafort’s Russia Ties In 2008, Refused To Let Him Manage RNC. Inquisitr. August 26, 2018.
  17. Schwarz, Jon, John McCain Claimed He Cares About "Honor" in the Senate. His Tax Vote Shows He Lied., The Intercept, 2 December 2017
  18. McCain, John, Statement By Senator John McCain on FCC Vote Approving "Net Neutrality" Internet Regulations, United States Senator John McCain, 26 February 2015
  19. [2]
  20. President John McCain and the Supreme Court, The Wall Street Journal
  21. McCain adviser: Everyone in U.S. has some health coverage. CNN. Blogs. August 28, 2008.
  22. Will MSNBC devote as much coverage to McCain's embrace of Hagee's support as it did to Obama's rejection of Farrakhan?, Media Matters
  23. cp:John McCain
  24. Yes, he went there. (Around the 1:15 mark)
  25. And again.
  26. On The Issues
  27. McCain: Close Guantanamo Bay, AOL News
  28. McCain Woos the Right, Makes Peace With Falwell, ABC News
  29. McCain, 2.0
  30. Gearing Up for '08? McCain Befriends Old Enemies, ABC News
  31. Kafka's Legacy, Washington Monthly
  32. The Old McCain condemned Bob Jones; the New McCain...
  33. Meet the Press Transcript for November 12, 2006
  34. Despite McCain's many hedges, Borger asserted that "no one would accuse McCain of equivocating on anything", Media Matters
  35. Operation Homecoming, if you were wondering.
  36. Did John McCain flip-flop on the Bergdahl deal?, Washington Post
  37. [3]
  38. McCain says no ‘mission accomplished’ in Iraq, MSNBC
  39. Video of McCain's quote
  40. Not the worst of times, Washington Post
  41. McCain, Kerry Have Tense Exchange at Foreign Relations Hearing, Roll Call
  42. John McCain slams Obama on Ukraine: "Most naive president in history", CBS News
  43. McCainisms
  44. Sen. John McCain to Leno: Britain ‘No Longer a World Power’
  45. McCain Offers Praise to Obama Administration
  46. Transcript of first presidential debate, CNN
United States 2008 presidential election articles on RationalWiki
Topics: Debate:Religious beliefs and public office - Mission accomplished - Same-sex marriage - United States Electoral College - Values Voter Debate 2007

Parties: Constitution Party - Democratic Party - Green Party - Libertarian Party - Republican Party
Candidates: Baldwin (Con) - Brownback (R) - Clinton (D) - Giuliani (R) - Huckabee (R) - Keyes (R) - McCain (R) - McKinney (Green) - Obama (D) - Paul (R) - Romney (R) Running mates: Biden (D) - Palin (R)
Winner: Barack Obama