Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ken Jackson asks about Senator McCain and votes for veterans

This is written in response to comments of Ken Jackson, questioning my views of Senator McCain due to his voting record, found in the post Senator Obama overseas - polispeak and votes


Thank you for you response. I must say that I enjoy well-informed thought out comments.

While I must admit that it was a failure on my part for not mentioning the nature of Senator John McCain’s voting record there is a notable difference between the candidates. First off there is the question of Senator John McCain’s voting record. While you may be focusing on the last 4 years he has been in elected office for 25 years. Thus to evaluate his voting record effectively, and in full comparison, requires looking at 25 years of votes.

The next point to keep in mind is that I would not say that McCain has voted 95% along the Republican party line. While it is well documented that Senator Obama has voted the most liberal of all Senators in office, a review of McCain does not find that same fact. Note that just 1 ½ - 2 years ago McCain was lauded as the Democrats’ Republican. The liberal media hailed him as a progressive Republican willing to deviate from the pack. Such descriptions argue that 95% seems far too inaccurate.

Also of note is the fact that while there are several notable votes where McCain has voted Republican, as in his votes to maintain the Bush tax cuts (thus preventing a de facto tax increase), he has also voted bi-partisan as well as introducing legislation that was far from Republican party line. A great example is the immigration reform bill that was voted upon not more than 2 years ago, and was favored by many Democrats and some Republicans.

Senator Obama cannot say the same on any of these points. If I am incorrect please provide me sites or records that I might review.

To your points on the Surge, you are correct that the terms of the surge are vague. Depending on which political party you look at the Surge has had varying amounts of success. But the key in my mind is that the Surge has been an (at least limited) success and not the complete failure promised by Harry Reid and others (before it ever started, in fact from the moment it was proposed).

As you yourself admit, 15 out of 18 benchmarks have been achieved to some degree. That’s roughly 83%, give or take the various levels of success of each benchmark. By any standard that is a success, except to Harry Reid and other far-left groups.

I do not claim that the success is enough, or that it is finished. There will not be a finish to any plan in Iraq until the last U.S. combat troop leaves that nation. That is not to say that a military base will not be created in Iraq, but that is no different than the bases that exist in Korea, Germany, Japan and other nations over the past multiple decades.

Now I submit this thought as well. It is not possible to have any long-lasting or final result if Iraq is not at relative peace. If active fighting is occurring in the streets, and the people of Iraq are unable to even go to market for goods without being shot at or have IED’s go off, then nothing can be resolved. Thus the military action of the Surge is practically the most important portion of the entire plan.

Now I fully agree with your point on taking care of the veteran’s. My father was a veteran of Viet Nam, I served in the Marines, and several members of my family have served in the Army. So please do not doubt my commitment to servicemen and their families.

I do not believe there is any former service member that would not prefer to see this conflict ended quickly with as few American lives lost as possible. I also believe that each of us at one time or another vowed to give our lives for our nation, as determined by our President and the Congress, in all their wisdom (or lack thereof). While we may not agree with how the orders originate, we have to believe that ultimately they are for the greatest good of our nation.

While Iraq may have started under bad terms, at best, at this point to not win means that those orphans and any that are in difficulty will be convinced that America is the root of all their ills (which could well be false). As we all know quite well such disaffected individuals have a penchant for becoming fanatics and suicide killers. Thus in 5 to 10 years after a loss and retreat the potential for another massive attack on American soil increases exponentially.

But there is no excuse for the manner in which our veterans are being treated upon coming home. We are obligated to provide them better medical and mental care than they are receiving currently. At the same time there is an undercurrent in this nation that would look upon or military brethren in the same manner as those soldiers that returned to a hostile home after Viet Nam. Groups like Moveon.org (which are major Obama supporters) are little different than Hanoi Jane Fonda in my mind; and they need only slight provocation to go from their current ‘support’ of troops to outright dismissal of them.

As for McCain not supporting out troops, Factcheck.org argues your point. They state directly that he has in fact voted to increase funds for veteran care, consistently

“Specifically, in 2004 McCain voted against an increase of $1.8 billion, but an increase of $1.2 billion passed by unanimous consent. In 2005 he voted against an increase of $2.8 billion, but voted for a $410 million increase. And in 2006, he voted against a $1.5 billion increase, but voted for an $823 million increase.

There was no dissent for the 2004 amendment, and the 2006 amendment passed unanimously. In 2005, the alternative spending increase passed with a healthy 96-to-4 bipartisan stamp of approval. Also, it's worth mentioning that the president does not express an opinion on every amendment offered in the Senate. So it is not accurate to say McCain "took Bush's side" on these votes.

The union group also cites a fourth vote, a March 2007 vote by McCain against a war spending supplemental that passed the Senate but was vetoed by the president. The bill did include $1.77 billion in additional funding for veterans' health care benefits. However, McCain voted for an alternative version of the supplemental that was quickly introduced, passed and signed into law. And it actually included slightly more money for veterans' health benefits, $1.79 billion.”

Now you may want to question why McCain has not voted in favor of more funding for our veterans, but that is different than

“a man who turns his back on fellow soldiers”

as you stated.

As for any other point on his care about our soldiers I refer to this other item from Factcheck.org. McCain has received awards from

  • 1995 Congressional Award from the VFW
  • 1992 VFW's Americanism Award
  • three or four Legislator of the Year Awards from American Legion
  • The VFW PAC has endorsed McCain in every congressional election since 1984

I have to believe that these organizations would not present awards to Senator McCain if he was not doing something (or a lot) in favor of military personnel and families.

And Senator Obama, who has never served a day in his life, and therefore cannot appreciate fully the sacrifices families and service members make daily, cannot make the same claims. Thus while I understand and appreciate your concern, I believe that on these issues Senator Obama is inferior to McCain.

But if you have proof to correct my positions, or cause for me to reconsider my position I am open to hear them.

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