John McCain: Moderate Once Again?

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We know everyone sat home this weekend to watch John McCain’s commencement speech at Liberty University. Riveting stuff, that C-SPAN programming. We were really hung over from a harsh night out Friday, so we watched it during a re-run.

When McCain announced he would deliver the commencement speech at Liberty University, the genesis of Jerry Falwell’s Evangelical operations, he drew heavy moderate-voter criticism for seeming to flip-flop on his long-standing political ideals. It wasn’t too long ago when McCain blasted Falwell by labelling him as an “agent of intolerance,” yet now he’d dump the moderate vote to gain favor with the Evangelicals for the 2008 nominations. Turncoat! Hypocrite! etc. etc.

But rather than praise Falwell’s crusade against those who don’t follow his brand of Christianity, McCain used the speech to glorify the rights of Americans to disagree with each other on the ways we all live our lives:

We have our disagreements, we Americans…over the social responsibilities we accept in accord with the dictates of our conscience and our faithfulness to the God we pray to; over our role in the world and how to defend our security interests and values in places where they are threatened. These are important questions; worth arguing about. We should contend over them with one another. It is more than appropriate, it is necessary that even in times of crisis, especially in times of crisis, we fight among ourselves for the things we believe in. It is not just our right, but our civic and moral obligation.

Completely ignoring the issue of gay marriage–which, in that room, was probably best, as he will vote against the anti-gay Constitutional marriage amendment–he instead focused on the conflicts in Sudan, and America’s obligation to become involved (which we haven’t yet). He also defended his support of the war in Iraq, but did so on the grounds we all have the “right and obligation” to voice dissent. From the Washington Post:

McCain added that it is the “right and obligation” of those who oppose the war to speak out against it. “Americans should argue about this war,” he said. “It has cost the lives of nearly 2,500 of the best of us. It has taken innocent life. It has imposed an enormous financial burden on our economy. At a minimum, it has complicated our ability to respond to other looming threats.”

Honestly, we have no idea what to think of Senator McCain. It’s pretty clear he is the front-runner for the 2008 Republican nomination, as many believe he was robbed in 2000 in the first place. The Log Cabin Republicans are undoubtedly doing backflips at the thought of landing a Republican in office who doesn’t actively work to erase the gays from society.

But will the rest of the community fare well, if he beats Hillary Clinton the 2008 Democratic nominee? Will he stand up for his previously-moderate ideals, or will he become yet another puppet of the Right Wing? We were horrified when he joined forces with Falwell, but now…the jury is out. Nevertheless, things couldn’t be any worse than they are now.

Text of Falwell’s speech here [Liberty.edu]

McCain Reconnects With Liberty [WashPost]