Tuesday, February 10, 2009

McCain blows opportunity

Today we will have a U.S. Senate version of a stimulus package, somewhere in the range of $827 billion. The House version of the bill past with a price tag of around $819 billion. Last night, the Senate voted for cloture, meaning ending debate on the bill, by a vote of 61-38. It should have been 62-37.

John McCain, the man who lost to Barack Obama for the presidency, the grand gentleman from Arizona, the war hero and the champion against pork-barrel spending, decided to play the vociferous Pontius Pilate role, instead of doing what he does best, fighting to streamline federal appropriations.

Everybody that pays attention to Congressional spending knows that some fat can be trimmed from any appropriations bill. And my friends, any bill that has over $800 billion in spending has some fat. McCain pledged that if he was elected president, he would veto any bill that had pork-barrel spending. I guess that is what he called himself doing by voting against closing debate on the stimulus package.

However, McCain is not the President. He is a member of the United States Senate and he should have joined Senators Specter, Collins and Snowe to make sure that the GOP voice would be heard in the discussion. McCain could have used his influence to streamline the Senate version of the bill so that when the conference committee meets to hash out a true compromise for President Obama to sign, there would have been a real discussion in the room. Trust me, there won't be much discussion if the two bills differ by only ten percent, as the talking heads in the Beltway tell it.

48 percent of the American people wanted John McCain to become President of the United States. They voted for him, I presume, because they felt he would have been the right leader at this time. By not stepping into the room to negotiate a Senate version of the stimulus package that Democrats and Republicans could agree with, he abdicated that leadership mantle. He let 48 percent of America down.

It does not matter if you agree with McCain or not, the fact of the matter is he ran to be the leader of the free world and people entrusted their vote with him. If he continues to be the obstructor rather than the negotiator, the credibility he has established will be greatly diminished. Part of his campaign was that he was the one with the experience to navigate the halls of Congress and get things past. Did you lose your compass, Senator?

The most important piece of legislation to be passed in the 111th Congress was waiting for you to offer your input, to put your stamp on it, and all you decide to do is just oppose it? It is a major blown opportunity for McCain to show what he is truly made of. This was the type of bill that he could make his presence felt.

Instead, he is analogous to the batter in the World Series, his team down by one run in the bottom of ninth, two runners in scoring position, two outs and he has a full count. And then on the next pitch, close enough to be called a strike, he decides not to swing. Any competitor in that situation would never let one umpire decide that game scenario, let alone 61 of them.

So Senator McCain, if you hear a faint voice in the distance yell, "you're out!", that's for you. Hopefully you will get another at-bat in a key situation.

Senator McCain, as a Democrat, as a person who sought twice the position you hold, as an American, I am here to tell you that your voice is needed. Don't hide in the chorus of boos. Don't squander any more opportunities like this where you can show what you are made of. Be the leader nearly half of America thought you would be.