McCain’s ‘Bull Moose’ candidacy

By Samuel Blumenfeld

In a recent column we speculated on what Sens. Daschle and McCain might have discussed at their much publicized weekend t?te-?-t?te at McCain’s home in Arizona. We assumed that they were planning a strategy to undermine the Bush presidency and get a liberal back in the White House. We pointed out that the liberals have successfully used the divide-and-conquer technique throughout the last one hundred years to thwart conservative ambitions. Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose campaign against Taft in the 1912 election was the perfect model of how to divide Republicans and win the White House for a Democrat liberal.

Bull Moose was the popular name given to the Progressive Party of 1912-16 which nominated Teddy Roosevelt for the Presidency at a convention in Chicago in August 1912. In that fateful election Roosevelt’s popular vote was 4,126,020; Taft’s was 3,486,720, giving the Republican-Progressive combination a total of 7,612,740 votes. But Woodrow Wilson won with 6,296,547 votes. The divided Republican vote also played havoc with the electoral votes. Wilson got 435, Roosevelt 88, and Taft 8. No doubt, McCain has carefully studied the 1912 election.

And so we read with great interest the article in the July 30 Newsweek, with the headline: “McCain’s ‘Mooseketeers.'” It appears that Senator McCain visited Teddy Roosevelt’s boyhood home at East 20th Street in New York to make spiritual contact with his hero. According to the article, “McCain paused reverently before every display, brushing by the moose head on the wall to examine the bullet-pocked white shirt and folded speech from the day that TR was nearly assassinated in 1912. … He’s not reviving the Bull Moose Party just yet, but McCain’s obsession with TR is beginning to have an impact at the Capitol.”

By modeling himself after Teddy Roosevelt, McCain will be able to escape the accusation of betraying the Republican cause. Nobody thinks of Teddy Roosevelt as a traitor to anything, even though he destroyed the Republican candidate’s chance to win the White House in 1912. Newsweek further wrote:

    Modeling himself after his idol – the most skillful reformer who ever happened into the Oval Office – McCain has emerged as the leader of moderates in both parties, pushing campaign reform in both chambers and introducing compromise bills on gun control and a patient’s bill of rights, which hits the floor this week.

Of course, McCain still insists that he has no intention of leaving the Republican Party. But who can believe him? The same Newsweek article tells us: “Still, McCain’s allies say it’s their job to keep McCain’s options open, just in case. Quietly, they’ve assembled a network of groups to challenge GOP orthodoxy and lay the ideological groundwork for a possible third party.”

As we all know, “moderate” is the term used to describe Republican liberals. If McCain is now considered the leader of the moderates, that means that he is the leader of the liberals. When did McCain become a liberal? Back in the days of the presidential primaries I read three powerful articles that began to shed some light on McCain’s strange changeover from conservative to liberal. The first was an article by Justin Raimondo written five months before the New Hampshire primary. Its title was, “Will the Real Coward Please Stand Up?” Raimondo took McCain to task for his call for an all-out war against Yugoslavia, which countered growing conservative opposition to the war, his scathing attack against Pat Buchanan and his support for campaign finance reform, which would greatly hamper conservative efforts to win elections. Raimondo quoted Camille Paglia who observed that the TV camera had “exposed McCain over time as a seething nest of proto-fascist impulses.”

The second article that impressed me was Jonathan Chait’s cover story about McCain in the Jan. 31, 2000, issue of the New Republic, entitled “This Man Is Not a Republican.” While it was written before the New Hampshire primary, it explained why McCain attracted so many liberals to his cause. He was engaging in class warfare, pitting rich against poor, stating “I’m not giving tax cuts for the rich.” The class struggle, of course, is the chief tenet of Marxist dialectical materialism.

It is highly probable that McCain learned at least as much about the Marxist class struggle while undergoing forced communist indoctrination during his five years at Hanoi as any American student learns at a liberal state university. But what disturbed many supporters of McCain was his sudden metamorphosis from conservative to liberal. When did he change? And why did he change? Chait wrote:

    The strangest thing about McCain’s apostasy is how quickly it developed. … The most plausible way to explain McCain’s strange intellectual odyssey is to assume that something unmoored him from the discipline and dogma of his party. That something, almost certainly, was campaign finance reform. … Maybe the overwhelming GOP defense of a system McCain insists is corrupt made him rethink the faith he had placed in the people from whom he took his ideological cues.

It is the supposed corruption of the American capitalist system that McCain’s captors in Hanoi must have drummed into his head, day after day, for five years. McCain told Chait: “I think the party to some degree has lost its way and I think this is because of the influence of big money.” But it is government’s increasing regulation of just about every aspect of our economic life that has created the need for lobbyists in Washington. If there were less government control, there would be less need to influence legislators. But McCain hasn’t said a thing about the need for less government.

Another interesting revelation is that in 1997 McCain confessed to Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes” that he considered himself to be a war criminal. He said, “I am a war criminal. I bombed innocent women and children.” Apparently, he had adopted the communist Vietnamese attitude toward himself and it has become part of his psyche. What else did the communists tell him that became part of his psyche? Yet, he had no hesitation in urging American airmen to do the same thing in Yugoslavia that he did in Vietnam. McCain made no attempt to defend America’s efforts to save South Vietnam from the horrors of communism, which were very real to the million boat people who took to sea in anything that would float rather than live in the communist paradise. Isn’t it ironic that when Vietnam was finally rid of foreign control, over a million Vietnamese fled their own country?

The third article that piqued my interest was Camille Paglia’s Feb. 2, 2000, column in Salon. She wrote: “Many Salon readers had questioned my implacable opposition to Sen. John McCain, whom I have mistrusted since I first became aware of him during the 1998 impeachment crisis.” She then went on to quote some of the letters sent to her by admirers of McCain. One writer said, “He is the only Republican candidate who has resisted the siren song of the Christian Coalition. …” Paglia then quoted a reader who agreed with her about McCain:

    I was relieved to see you call Sen. John McCain “creepy.” About a year ago, I caught my first glimpse of McCain on some sycophantic press show and experienced a wave of evilness wash over me in response to some pantomime of his. What a strange reaction to a “war hero.”… What is it about McCain that intuitively does not sit right with me? My husband had a similarly suspicious reaction to the man, and we now half-jokingly speculate that perhaps we’re witnessing some sort of “Manchurian Candidate” scenario.

The implication is that McCain subliminally absorbed communist doctrine as a result of his five-year captivity. If that is the case, then he ought to subject himself to deprogramming. The strength and vehemence of his liberal convictions, the fact that he considers himself to be a war criminal, would indicate that he very profoundly absorbed the communist critique of the American system. Is it possible that the communists have perfected a time-release form of indoctrination? That would account for the sudden switch in ideology at a very crucial period – a campaign for the presidency. Leaving speculation aside, however, we don’t need conjecture to face this hard fact: The last thing America needs in the White House is a self-admitted war criminal.