First, I should disclose that I am an enthusiastic Democrat and would usually find great joy in watching Republican opponents tear into each other. However, after reading the article about J.D. Hayworth’s recent visit to Payson and finding it so disturbing on so many levels, I find myself in the unlikely position of defending John McCain.
The unbelievable irony of seeing an ex-sportscaster, who was voted out of his congressional seat under the taint of financial scandal who then became one of the toxic radio performers who appeal to the basest nature of his listeners actually think that he is qualified to challenge McCain’s record is amazing.
Not that I have always agreed with McCain’s stands, far from it. But there have been some occasions where he has shown the courage to stand against even his own party that I have to admire. He has sometimes found positions that transcended political considerations, one of the most important has been his belief that torture is wrong. And he is joined in this belief by Colin Powell, almost all of the military leaders and by U.S. intelligence agents (not to mention by all people of conscience).
Just last Sunday Dick Cheney was on TV proudly stating that he had been a supporter of enhanced interrogation (translation: torture), and then later in the week the Justice Department found that the lawyers that had OK’d the torture for the Bush administration were not guilty of any crime, they had just shown “poor judgment.” Look, poor judgment is wearing plaids with stripes, writing legal analysis that allowed and justified torture is something quite different, it was a crime at Nuremberg and it was a crime after World War II and Vietnam, and it is still a crime.
But even more disturbing than all of this is the fact that McCain is beginning to backtrack from many of his former positions. He is being influenced by political pressures and by his perceived notion that he must meet some Republican “litmus” test.
There is a radical and vocal segment of the current Republican party that should cause concern even for other Republicans. Should men of integrity be punished for that very integrity? The moral basis of an issue does not change just because the politics of the issue changes.
It has been said that the difference between a politician and a statesman is thinking of the next generation. McCain has shown moments of being a statesman, I doubt that anyone will ever say that of J.D. Hayworth.