The Campaign Spot

McCain on Pork, Earmarks, and Corruption, As Well As Iraq

Appropriate hold music for John McCain’s blogger conference call on ethics:


 That’s just the way it is… Some things will never change…


McCain, delayed slightly for a vote on the floor –a vote so-called ethics and lobbying reform.


McCain calls the bill, “a sham and a joke… Doesn’t get to what caused the scandals, which is earmarks… It’s watered down, Republicans not included in the conference… My prediction to you is that in the coming year, more and more, you will see bills as being certified by the committee chairman or majority leader as meeting these rules, but it will be the same as before.


There are some good things in this bill – it will extend ban on lobbying from one year to two. [I presume he means by retired members of Congress.] It will add to American people’s cynicism about how we do business up here.


On Iraq: “I believe we making progress. I’m glad to see some others seeing the same things… We’re all disappointed in the Maliki government, but this is in America’s national security interest. We can get better cooperation from their government. The Iraqi military is doing the things we want them to do, and they’re fighting alongside our troops.”


McCain says Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of the Wall Street Journal is  ”not a reason for concern” on the part of the American poeple. “They’ve got a world-class reputation under any leadership, they’ll strive to preserve that reputation.” ”I’d like to give Stevens a chance to defend himself. Stevens and I have never been particularly close, but he deserves a chance to defend himself.”


On Southwick: “The situation more than outrageous. He’s got a sterling record. If this is the game , God forbid there’s ever a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate, but I’d expect to see more of the same. I am even more proud of what we did with the Gang of 14.This doesn’t bode well for America to reject a judge who has such a sterling reputation.”


“I’d like to publicize this situation to get Leahy to give this fine man an up or down vote. … Are people going to want to be federal judges if they have to go through all of this, this kind of needless kinds of allegations and trials?”


On Obama: “Look, every action that the U.S. takes you have to think about what the ultimate result is, and what the ultimate impact is on American national security. If we knew of a high-value target, we could go after that target and not have to publicize it. … that’s why we have a CIA, predators,special operations forces… The fall of Musharraf would be catastrophic.”


Back on ethics and earmarks: Scandals like Duke Cunningham hurt us very badly… We paid a very high price for our mistakes, and I hope we’ve learned for them. We can take the lead on this and take some credit for it.


Summarizing lengthy comments on Iraq… McCain expects Petraeus to come back and report some progress, and to ask for funding for additional months to continue the effort. Says some senators are “genuinely struggling” with the upcoming decisions on Iraq. Says he has seen, heard and read from soldiers’ e-mail a change in morale; now they are seeing progress resulting from their efforts.


He agrees with a comment from James Joyner that it seems like half the Congress doesn’t want to hear it, but he says the job of pro-war bloggers and himself is to point out the disastrous consequences of withdrawal. He says everything he has learned in his years in the military and elected office suggest that a U.S. withdrawal would have disastrous consequences.


One of the bloggers asks about Obama’s comment about nukes, and the Romney comment that I would submit is being unfairly interpreted as a suggestion to withdraw troops in September.

On Obama, “I don’t think you would ever preclude it.There are scenarios where they would have to be used. If the Iranians or North Korean acquired nuclear weapons and the means to hit us with them, you can never preclude it. You never want to use it, but to announce to the world that we would never use ‘em… heh heh, I just don’t get it. I had not heard that quote, so I’m taken aback by it.


On the Romney comment, “What Patraeus is not going to say is that we can withdraw.”

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