The Real McCain: Though Senator John McCain of Arizona Is Known as a "Maverick Republican," a Look at His Record Reveals That He Is Just a Typical Neoconservative

By Gomez, Christian | The New American, April 18, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Real McCain: Though Senator John McCain of Arizona Is Known as a "Maverick Republican," a Look at His Record Reveals That He Is Just a Typical Neoconservative


Gomez, Christian, The New American


Senator John Sidney McCain, III of Arizona, known for occasionally crossing the aisle and working with Senate Democrats on key legislative issues, has built a reputation as a "maverick Republican." McCain was born in Panama to Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. (USN) and Roberta Wright on August 29, 1936. Graduating from the Annapolis Naval Academy in 1958, McCain served for 20 years as an aviator on ships including the USS Enterprise, USS Intrepid, and USS Forrestal. During the Vietnam War, he was captured by the enemy and spent five years as a prisoner of war in Communist North Vietnam.

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 and now in his fifth term, McCain has earned an unimpressive 63-percent score on The New American's "Freedom Index," which measures votes cast by congressmen according to their fidelity to the Constitution. Examining McCain's record based on his actions, not just his rhetoric, on a few major issues underscores his poor performance in office.

Record in Congress on POW/MIA Issues

For example, in 1989 McCain derailed efforts to pass H.R. 3603, a simple one-page bill that would have made virtually all government records relating to POW/ MIA personnel transparent. The only exception to transparency would be records containing information about intelligence-gathering methods or the names of individuals without the consent of the POW/ MIA personnel's living family. The key portion of H.R. 3603 reads:

   The head of each department or
   agency which holds or receives any
   records and information, including
   live-sighting reports, which have
   been correlated or possibly correlated
   to United States personnel listed as
   prisoner of war or missing in action
   from World War II, the Korean conflict,
   and the Vietnam conflict shall
   make available to the public all such
   records and information held or received
   by that department or agency.

McCain worked behind the scenes to make sure the bill did not receive any traction, so the bill never reached the floor for a vote, and the following year when it was reintroduced, it again went nowhere. Instead, McCain introduced a watered-down version of the bill, which ultimately passed and remains the law. The "McCain Truth Bill," as it is known, only allowed for the disclosure of records that the Department of Defense deems as not containing sensitive yet unknown "specific information." This is a broad blanket that has allowed the Department of Defense to keep many POW and MIA records from the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Cold War classified, much to the grief of surviving relatives of POWs/MIA. Because he is a former POW, it is not surprising McCain's bill got traction, but it is curious he did not do more to uncover the truth about those left behind.

Curious too is why McCain would have later gutted key provisions of the pro-POW/MIA Missing Service Personnel Act of 1995 through amendments. His amendments removed key enforcement provisions such as criminal penalties to "any government official who knowingly and willfully withholds from the file of a missing person any information relating to the disappearance or whereabouts and status of a missing person."

Regardless of his position on P0W/MIA issues in Congress, one would hope that the wartime veteran senator would have a much better record on foreign policy and the use of force. Unfortunately, rather than embracing a noninterventionist position that is consistent with the Constitution, McCain is a committed neoconservative, especially in matters of foreign intervention and preemptive war.

McCain's Neoconservative Tendencies

Because of his wartime experience, including the years he spent as a POW, it would of course make sense that McCain would understand firsthand that war is hell and would not see it as a joking matter --even in instances where he believed unleashing death and destruction on an adversarial country was necessary. …

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