Friday, August 15, 2008

The Price of Making a Statement

As a war veteran, you'd think it'd be relatively easy for John McCain to get the support of veterans groups from across the country because, simply speaking, he understands what they go through from his own experience as a soldier and POW. However, an article from the L.A. Times suggests that this perhaps expected support is not a voting bloc that the McCain camp should depend on too heavily.

In order to battle what McCain has called political pork barrel spending, during his years in the Senate, McCain opposed 4 important veteran benefits bills, according to some members of Disabled American Veterans, among others no doubt. McCain has developed a reputation for voting against bills that on the whole he agrees with but which also have been inserted with "pet projects" from various colleagues. These added expenses, in McCain's view, are extraneous or unnecessary and waste precious tax dollars. And he's certainly right on that point. Millions of taxpayer's dollars are wasted each year on extra, sometimes even ridiculous, projects benefiting only a few. However, the problem McCain faces is not whether people believe he is right or wrong about that. Rather the problem comes when a perception develops and voters, veterans in this case, begin to believe that McCain is more concerned with making a point in Washington rather than helping people in the rest of the country, regardless of what the cost is. What these voters see is that McCain does not always do everything in his power to help.

It's a sad state of affairs when standing up for the right thing could cost a person so much. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" certainly appears to be a dream of past political eras and gone seem to be the days when an elected official could defend responsible politics without fear of electoral retribution, though I'm not sure when these days truly existed. To be sure, the democratic nominee has faced or will face similar criticisms but the fact is, for McCain, they come from a somewhat unexpected group of people.


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