Sunday, December 19, 2010

" We're Americans. We're Americans, and we'll never surrender. They will."

" Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up.... We're Americans. We're Americans, and we'll never surrender. They will."
Senator John McCain - Speech to Republican National Convention, August 2004

I am a big supporter of Senator John McCain. He is one of my personal heroes. I have not nor will be a big political party guy as I firmly believe in voting my conscience - I vote for the candidate, not the party.

Senator McCain's story is a compelling one of a man who had to deal with many issues that became the shaping forces of his life.

"As a young man, I would respond aggressively and sometimes irresponsibly to anyone whom I perceived to have questioned my sense of honor and self-respect," he said.

"Those responses often got me in a fair amount of trouble earlier in life."

But in the second half of McCain's well-known narrative, he found the true meaning of honor and a calling greater than his own self-glory when he was captured and tortured for five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war.

"I once thought I was man enough for almost any confrontation," McCain said. "In prison, I discovered I was not. I tried to use every personal resource I had to confound my captors, and it wasn't enough in the end. But when I had reached the limit of my endurance, the men I had the honor of serving with picked me up, set me right, and sent me back into the fight. I became dependent on others to a greater extent than I had ever been before. And I am a better man for it."

In Hanoi prison, McCain's youthful resistance to authority became the source of his inner strength and resilience. The story of McCain's personal courage — whether he's taking on his Vietnamese captors or corrupt members of his own party — is at the core of his political message.

Those who don't understand the drive of someone who could stand up under the withering and crushing force of five years of captivity and torture will see him as abrasive and unyielding. I see a man who knows what's at stake for our country, as he had his liberty taken away for 5 years and knows the price of freedom.

Let the chips fall where they may - I Support Senator John McCain.

McCain's new role: GOP agitator
By: Manu Raju -
December 19, 2010 07:01 AM EST

Sen. John McCain is getting under the skin of Democrats these days — and he seems to be relishing it.

After Democrats scrapped a massive $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill Thursday, McCain gloated about its defeat — and Democrats fumed. When he took a whack at efforts to bring up a bill aimed at helping Sept. 11 first responders, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reacted fiercely. And as he went down fighting Saturday on the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was baffled, saying, “I don’t understand it.”

Fresh from a whopping electoral victory Nov. 2, McCain is inserting himself into the biggest issues of the day, acting as a power player in the Senate and angering Democrats. And while Mitch McConnell may be the Senate GOP leader, McCain has embraced a role as the leading Republican agitator against President Barack Obama, who defeated him in the 2008 presidential election.

“It’s kind of expected,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said of McCain’s approach. “It’s sort of the John McCain of 2010.”

At least one senator isn’t very forgiving of the straight-shooting, hot-tempered McCain. In October, McCain ripped Sen. Barbara Boxer on the campaign trail for being the most “anti-defense senator” and accused her of endangering national security — and the California Democrat is still ticked off.

“He makes things up. He loses control. That was an example,” she said in an interview.

When asked whether he still believes what he said about Boxer, McCain said, “Sure.”

“Anybody who has voted against every single one of our efforts going all the way back to Desert Storm — that’s my view,” McCain told POLITICO. “I have to stand up for what I believe is best for this country, particularly on national security issues.”

With a nuclear arms treaty with Russia hanging in the balance, McCain has significant sway over his GOP colleagues on whether the the deal will be ratified this year.

McCain took particular pleasure in battling — and helping defeat — the earmark-laden omnibus spending bill. When the bill was pulled from the floor last week, McCain gleefully hailed the outcome — and some of his colleagues were miffed at what they considered showboating by the Arizona Republican.

The 74-year-old McCain doesn’t seem too worried about that.

“I love it. I love it,” he said. “Because I’ve been fighting for years, they’ve been obviously supportive of what I believe is a corrupt practice [of earmarking]. I was very entertained by the response.”

McCain critics say he has ditched the title of “maverick” — which he touted in his 2008 presidential campaign — and has taken a hard partisan line against the Obama administration, even on issues he once supported like a comprehensive immigration bill and a cap-and-trade climate change plan. And he emerged as the leading opposition figure on a range of other high-profile legislative efforts — like the national health care law.

Many saw McCain’s positioning over the past year as part political since he faced a competitive primary race against conservative former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who he ended up trouncing. But after cruising in the general election by 24 percentage points against Democrat Rodney Glassman, McCain returned to the Senate with a head of steam.

Some in the Senate wondered if the newly emboldened Republican would return to his old, deal-cutting ways, bucking his party on measures like campaign finance reform.

But McCain may be more comfortable as an Obama antagonist — even though he says he’ll work with the president when they have common ground.

“I have said all along ... I would be glad to work with the president, glad to sit down and work with the president on a broad variety of issues,” he said in the interview. “But the president has never sought my advice or counsel.”

McCain said he has spoken with Obama lately about the new START deal with Russia — and he has not yet announced whether he'll give the treaty potentially deal-clinching support. McCain now says he hopes there’s more outreach to improve the nonexistent relationship between the 2008 adversaries.

“It’s not [that] there was anything wrong with the relationship; there was just no relationship,” he said.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, pointed out that the Arizona Republican has, at times, sided with Obama — including on the Afghanistan war policy, the president’s opposition to more money for F-22 jet fighters and the major tax-cut compromise that Obama signed into law Friday.

“It’s kind of odd that every time John gets crossways with our Democratic friends, about 70 percent of the American people are with him,” Graham said in the Capitol on Friday.

Democrats don’t seem to think that. After McCain railed on the Democrats’ floor schedule — and referred to the upcoming consideration of the Sept. 11 first responders bill as “fooling around” — Schumer teed off in a Senate floor speech Friday, saying the Arizona Republican was being insensitive to the emergency responders who need health benefits.

“We are not fooling around,” Schumer said. “We are fulfilling our duty as patriotic Americans for all of those, from New York and elsewhere, who rushed to the towers.”

McCain didn’t back down.

“The majority leader keeps bringing up that and other pieces of legislation for votes [that] don’t get enough votes,” McCain fired back. “So for the senator from New York to somehow interpret that as my [being] critical of the bill itself, of course, is an incredible stretch of the imagination.

“And, frankly, I resent it.”

McCain was severely outnumbered, however, on Saturday’s repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which the Senate passed 65-31. Opponents of the policy accused McCain of repeatedly flip-flopping — so much so that Reid said on the floor earlier this month that McCain offered a “dizzying” defense of the law.

“I have no idea what he's talking about and no one else does either," Reid said plainly.

On Saturday morning, before the vote to end the policy, McCain went down swinging — attacking Reid for having misplaced priorities and for pushing a measure he said would hurt military readiness.

“Here we are, about six weeks after an election that repudiated the agenda of the other side; we are jamming — or trying to jam major issues through the Senate of the United States because they know they can’t get it done beginning next Jan. 5,” McCain said on the floor.

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