Friday, October 06, 2006

Link of Interest: Straight Talk America by John McCain


Today, I talk about an interesting web link, “Straight Talk America” by Senator John McCain. As everyone knows, he is one of the leading candidates of Republican nomination for 2008 presidential election. Therefore, this site will be helpful to understand 2006 and 2008 elections.

John McCain is well known for his popularity among neocons. William Kristol and Robert Kagan often comment that the best duo for the United States is President John McCain and Vice President Joseph Lieberman. He has close ties with leading conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Project for the New American Century.

Despite such good reputations among conservative intellectuals, grassroots and ultra conservatives are reluctant to support him, and call him a RINO (Republican In Name Only). Though he is an ardent advocate for the Iraq War, he is not a conservative “fundamentalist” on domestic issues. He has submitted a legislation bill on global warming with his Democrat partner Joseph Lieberman. Democrat Senator Edward Kennedy is also a good friend to him. Therefore, Republican rightists doubt McCain’s sincerity to conservatism values. For them, John McCain is a candidate, just “better than Democrats, particularly Hilary Clinton.”

Let’s have a look at “Straight Talk America”. The title sounds very attractive. It creates positive and forward-looking image. There is lots of interesting information. I mention some of them. McCain is expanding his campaign. He made a speech at Gorge H. W. Bush Library and shook hands with the former president, as if he were making an impression that he would be the next president. See the video. According to the news on this site, “Thirteen Legislators Join Straight Talk America.”

Besides political issues, McCain has written a book “Character Is Destiny”, a series of morality tales for American youths. I hereby quote a review by the Washington Post.

In summarizing for his readers the lessons they might take from these tales "for the important choices in your own life," McCain offers this view of the human condition: "We are born with one nature. We want what we want, and we want it now. But as we grow, we develop our second nature, our character. These stories are about that second nature." Call me corny, but I wouldn't mind if my kids learned to see life this way.

McCain's book is built around the lives of 34 people whose stories exemplify 34 virtues. Many of the virtues are obvious: honesty, courage, loyalty, responsibility, faith, tolerance, generosity and humility. Some are less obvious choices for a book of this sort: humor, curiosity, resilience, enthusiasm and authenticity.

That McCain really wants to run for president again is clear from his careful selection of heroes. He won't get into any trouble for the politicians he picks: Winston Churchill (for diligence), George Washington (for self-control), Abraham Lincoln (for resilience), Nelson Mandela (for forgiveness), Dwight D. Eisenhower (for humility) and Theodore Roosevelt (for enthusiasm).

McCain's book is built around the lives of 34 people whose stories exemplify 34 virtues. Many of the virtues are obvious: honesty, courage, loyalty, responsibility, faith, tolerance, generosity and humility. Some are less obvious choices for a book of this sort: humor, curiosity, resilience, enthusiasm and authenticity.

That McCain really wants to run for president again is clear from his careful selection of heroes. He won't get into any trouble for the politicians he picks: Winston Churchill (for diligence), George Washington (for self-control), Abraham Lincoln (for resilience), Nelson Mandela (for forgiveness), Dwight D. Eisenhower (for humility) and Theodore Roosevelt (for enthusiasm).」

In order to gain support from Republican rightists, McCain stresses his loyalty to conservative values. A blog linked to this site, entitled “Political Yen/Yang” quotes an article of the Boston Globe. This blog is critical to the Boston Globe article, saying “Not only does McCain need the religious right, they need him too.” Just review Boston Globe article, “Analysts say McCain wooing religious right” on May 13.

The article says that McCain delivered a commencement speech at religious rightist leader Jerry Falwell’s evangelical Christian college, Liberty University. In 2000, McCain criticized Christian right wings, and lost in GOP primary. He needs to repair relations with them, in order to win Republican nomination in 2008. On the other hand religious rightists need McCain as well, says the Boston Globe. Why? Because they have to improve the relationship with the Republican front-runner for the 2008 nomination. However, the Boston Globe analyses this as follows.

Still, McCain's new strategy has risks. By seeming to genuflect to a man he once denounced by name, analysts said, McCain could damage perhaps his biggest political asset: the image that he's a straight shooter who refuses to pander to his audience like a stereotypical politician.

''This tells us that John McCain is a living, breathing politician who has looked in the mirror and said 'I should be president of the United States,' " said Stephen Hess, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution. ''The media built McCain into something more than [a politician] when he last ran for president. They made him into an icon -- the maverick."

In some respects, McCain's reputation as an independent Republican is even stronger now than in 2000. Since then, he has pushed bills limiting political campaign donations, banning the torture of suspected terrorists, and allowing illegal immigrants to become legalized guest workers -- positions that put him at odds with some conservative Republicans.


In addition to a kow-tow to religious rights, McCain made a speech at British Conservative Party Conference on October 1 to confirm common values between British and American conservatives. He may be trying to impress that he is no less conservative than President George W. Bush by cheering up Tory leader David Cameron. This is understandable. However, the timing of this speech is questionable. In the past, British Prime Minister John Major said that he hoped Geroge H. W. Bush to win the election in order to maintain the Reagan-Thatcher conservatism axis. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton defeated the Republican, and Anglo-American relations cooled down until Tony Blair came to power. Japan’s Democrat leader Katsuya Okada made a similar mistake to visit John F. Kerry during the presidential election.

On “Straight Talk America”, you can learn more than policy debates. Grassroots activism plays an important role in American politics. Its influence is much larger than those in Europe and Japan. In “The Right Nation” by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge point out that there are no strong conservative talk radio and citizens groups in Britain, unlike America. In Europe and Japan, civic activism is regarded as somewhat New Left. But in the United States, conservative grassroots movements are strong through various channels. In America, the world of Alexis de Tocqville still prevails.

This civic activism will grow furthermore through the Internet. One of the reasons why British Labour won the election in 1997 is their successful use of the Internet. Currently, the Tory is developing cyber grassroots communities to defeat the Labour, and take office again.

You don’t have to be a Republican nor a McCain supporter. E-mail updates from Straight Talk America are helpful to foresee political trends for the midterm and presidential elections. Also, you can learn a lot about grassroots activism and cyberspace democracy. Therefore, I recommend readers of this blog to visit Straight Talk America.