Jewish World Review Jan. 18, 2000 /11 Shevat, 5760
attack my wife!
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- WHILE THE VICE PRESIDENT runs as fast as he can from the dreaded association with President Clinton, Republican presidential candidate John McCain seems to model himself after Slick Willie. Among his Clintonesque qualities, McCain has mastered Slick Willie's habit of deflecting criticism by completely misconstruing it -- usually as a personal attack that somehow inures to the greater glory of John McCain.
Remember when Jerry Brown asked Clinton about suspicious dealings between the Arkansas governor's office and the Rose Law Firm during a primary debate in 1992, and Clinton responded as if Brown had called Hillary an ugly pig? "You ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife," Clinton retorted -- indignantly, no less. "You're not worth being on the same platform as my wife." Very chivalrous and all, but of course, Brown hadn't attacked Hillary or even the Rose Law Firm. He had attacked the corrupt governor who was running for higher office.
Similarly, when concerns were aired about McCain's famous temper, McCain denounced his critics for claiming he had developed a temper as a result of his torture at the hands of the Viet Cong. Of course, no one had ever implied that McCain's temper resulted from his heroic martyrdom as a POW. No one, that is, but McCain himself.
One of McCain's most recent answer-a-different-question tricks is so ludicrous, one almost wishes he would just stick with accusing his critics of maligning his service during the Vietnam War.
Anti-abortion groups have been keeping a close eye on McCain ever since he peremptorily announced that he supported the continued vitality of Roe vs. Wade during an interview last summer with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle ("certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade").
McCain was already a bit worrisome to anti-abortion groups because of his vote in favor of federal funding for experimentation on aborted baby parts. So when the pro-life crowd started turning up jokes McCain was telling about old people, they became alarmed at what this might say about McCain's position on another right-to-life issue, euthanasia -- e.g., killing old people.
McCain had apparently jokingly referred to an old folks' home called Leisure World as "Seizure World," and had remarked that the good thing about Alzheimer's is that you get to hide your own Easter eggs. (I hate to see wisecracks ruled out of order in politics as much as the next guy -- probably more than the next guy -- but, you have to say, it's difficult to imagine Ronald Reagan referring to an old person's home as "Seizure World.")
In any event, two National Right to Life Committee chapters began running ads simply stating facts about McCain: his vote in favor of experimentation on aborted baby parts, his support for Roe, and his jokes about the old folks' home and Alzheimer's disease.
The odd twist in this episode was, again, McCain's response. The McCain campaign began issuing press releases and statements to the media asserting that NRLC's secret motive was to prevent McCain's campaign finance reform proposals from becoming law. One McCain operative said, for example: "The right-to-life organization is deathly afraid of McCain becoming president, because they know he will enact campaign finance reform and they will lose their six-figure salaries."
Now admittedly, there is no shortage of ulterior motives, sneaky stratagems and dirty tricks in the political realm. But to accuse an anti-abortion group of using the life issue as a subterfuge to oppose a candidate on the issue they REALLY care about -- campaign finance reform -- is sheer lunacy. (And I am not blaming the Viet Cong here.)
It wasn't just out-of-control staffers slipping deranged press releases onto McCain's Web page. The candidate himself responded to the ads saying they were the product of Washington lobbyists "in their $1,000 suits." A lot of right-to-lifers go around in $1,000 suits. And by the way, Ralph Nader is more likely to be drawing a "six-figure" salary than anyone in a right-to-life organization. Yet McCain has repeatedly claimed that abortion interest groups are in it for the money. "We, again, are gridlocked by both ends of the spectrum," he told Don Imus on Nov. 23, 1999, "who have turned the cause (of abortion) into a business."
If the NRLC could be accused of anything, it would be earnest zealotry on the issue of life. These people are the consummate single-issue voters. They would happily embrace a 100 percent tax rate in return for an end to abortion and euthanasia. It doesn't matter which side you're on here. Neither side (except the abortionists themselves) is making money off abortion.
It takes a special kind of person to twist disapproval of one's jokes about the elderly into a self-righteous boast about being a martyred "reformer," or criticism of one's temper into a tear-jerking reverie on one's war record. (Or an attack on a corrupt governorship into an attack on one's wife.)
McCain could probably accuse me of all sorts of ulterior motives. So let me just say,
there's a lot I don't like about McCain (excepting his illustrious war record). But most of
all, I don't like smarmy politicians who instinctively revert to the easy lie, rather than
dealing with the
JWR contributor Ann Coulter is the author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton.