This thorough and thoroughly damning analysis of the Republican ticket is worth reading whatever your political interests.
It begins with a comparison between John McCain and John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.
There's a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a "confession" to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn't survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service's highest distinctions. McCain would later hail him as "one of the toughest guys I've ever met."
The two men then discuss their future plans, where Dramesi wants to go to the Middle East, which he believes will be "some problem" for America. McCain, on the other hands, is headed for Rio, where he believes he has a "better chance of getting laid." Which, according to his own autobiography, was a successful effort on McCain's part.
Dramesi on McCain?
"McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."
Is this the man we want for President?
This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.
In its broad strokes, McCain's life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers' powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives' evangelical churches.
In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.
McCain has shown himself to be the consummate hypocrite: creating a heroic image on the one hand bolstered by bold lies, and pandering to whatever interests suits him best on the other hand, as he openly caved on virtually all his so-called "maverick" principles - bi-partisanship, taking the "high road", straight talk, to name a few - once he got in sight of the Republican nomination for President. Since then, he has been on the low road, sacrificing his country's interests for his political gain, with a cynical slogan of "country first."
Few politicians have so actively, or successfully, crafted their own myth of greatness.
The hypocrisy is showcased in his political race for the Presidency.
We have now watched McCain run twice for president. The first time he positioned himself as a principled centrist and decried the politics of Karl Rove and the influence of the religious right, imploring voters to judge candidates "by the example we set, by the way we conduct our campaigns, by the way we personally practice politics." After he lost in 2000, he jagged hard to the left — breaking with the president over taxes, drilling, judicial appointments, even flirting with joining the Democratic Party.
In his current campaign, however, McCain has become the kind of politician he ran against in 2000. He has embraced those he once denounced as "agents of intolerance," promised more drilling and deeper tax cuts, even compromised his vaunted opposition to torture.
Now that's the lowest blow of all.
Intent on winning the presidency at all costs, he has reassembled the very team that so viciously smeared him and his family eight years ago, selecting as his running mate a born-again moose hunter whose only qualification for office is her ability to electrify Rove's base. And he has engaged in a "practice of politics" so deceptive that even Rove himself has denounced it, saying that the outright lies in McCain's campaign ads go "too far" and fail the "truth test."
Man of principle? Not John McCain. Not in the least.
It's well worth it.