Unbelievable

by Ted on May 20, 2004

Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog is correct- this really is astounding:

It’s McCain vs. Hastert on meaning of sacrifice

A 2-month-old House-Senate standoff over the 2005 budget burst into public acrimony Wednesday, when House Speaker Dennis Hastert questioned Sen. John McCain’s credentials as a Republican and suggested that the decorated Vietnam War veteran didn’t understand the meaning of sacrifice. …

On Tuesday, McCain gave a speech excoriating both political parties for refusing to sacrifice their tax cutting and spending agendas in a time of war. At the Capitol on Wednesday, Hastert shot back: “If you want to see sacrifice, John McCain ought to visit our young men and women at Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) and Bethesda (Naval Hospital). There’s the sacrifice in this country.” …

First: Hastert isn’t making sense. McCain is not asking for cuts in the military budget. He’s asking for legislators to put their other legislative wishes, specifically tax cuts and new spending, on hold in response to the deficit. Hastert seems to think that the federal government has no obligation to balance revenues and expenditures, as long as he can point to the existence of wounded soldiers.

If Hastert believes what he’s saying, he should quit his post and go write for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. He certainly has no business in my government.

Second: I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last, to read this and say, “McCain spent five and a half years in a Viet Cong prisoner of war camp. Where the hell does Hastert get off lecturing him on sacrifice?”

Third: Why are the grown-ups in the Republican party the ones who get spanked?

UPDATE: Digby has a little more on the man being lectured on “sacrifice”.

{ 20 comments }

1

Richard Bellamy 05.20.04 at 4:26 pm

I often have wondered whether there is a divide between the “War” Republicans on the one hand — those who have served in actual wars like Bush I, McCain, Bob Dole, Colin Powell — and “non-War” Republicans — those who never actually fought, like Bush II, Reagan, Hastert, DeLay, Santorum, Cheney, Ashcroft.

I don’t know if fighting in war moderates your ideology, or if there are “character” issues involved in chosing to not avoid military service, but a Republican party dominated by the first group would be a valuable opposition voice in politics, while a Republican party dominated by the second is just scary.

2

John Wendt 05.20.04 at 4:43 pm

Was Hastert implying that the sacrifice of the military makes it unnecessary for anybody else to sacrifice something?

3

robbo 05.20.04 at 4:48 pm

McCain advocating a restrained and responsible course of action represents a serious threat to politicians who have lived in neocon fantasy-land for the past three years. Hastert’s nonsensical criticism adds to the growing mountain of evidence that the wheels are off the Republican wagon.

4

Thomas 05.20.04 at 4:57 pm

Richard, I have a feeling that you weren’t an avid supporter of Bush I or Dole. Further, I’m not sure what the groups you’ve lumped together are supposed to represent. Hastert is a conventional Illinois Republican–he’s not a movement conservative. DeLay is fiercely partisan, but has rather ill-defined views on foreign policy, and the views he has take second place to his partisanship. That’s why he opposed Clinton’s many military adventures. On the other side, McCain doesn’t have much in common with Powell. McCain is socially conservative, while Powell is not, and McCain favors a much more robust and interventionist foreign policy than Powell. I could go on, but I think you can take the point.

5

Richard Bellamy 05.20.04 at 5:16 pm

The difference is one of character. If McCain or Dole or Bush I had an objection to something, I’d consider their position before making a decision. If Hastert or DeLay or Santorum had an objection, I wouldn’t.

6

Matt 05.20.04 at 5:58 pm

Yeah, I think Hastert’s comments are disgraceful, but he doesn’t care what I think. His words were directed at ‘his’ people in the House– the translation is ‘If I see any of you acting like this, you’re dead meat’.

7

Brett Bellmore 05.20.04 at 5:59 pm

The remark is silly, but it’s worth noting that if McCain had, over the years, exibited some of that passion for Republican causes, instead of being the Republican who made so many Democratic initiatives “bipartisan”, he might have a bit more pull with his own party.

And not trying to win the nomination with crossover votes would have helped, too.

8

harry 05.20.04 at 6:25 pm

bq. And not trying to win the nomination with crossover votes would have helped, too.

You mean, by trying to draw non-republicans into the party he lost cred with the party? All the Demo voters I know who cross-over do so to sink the Republicans (by voting for nutters like Buchanan and, for some, Bush II). McCain-voting Democrats were voting for the nominee most likely to defeat whoever their party nominated. (imagine McCain versus Gore in 2000). Those Republicans who hold this, in any way, against McCain deserve his and our contempt.

9

Walt Pohl 05.20.04 at 6:47 pm

Silly? I think the word you’re looking for is “disgusting”.

10

Barry 05.20.04 at 6:59 pm

“Second: I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last, to read this and say, “McCain spent five and a half years in a Viet Cong prisoner of war camp. Where the hell does Hastert get off lecturing him on sacrifice?””

Because that’s the current state of the GOP. And because this will cause Hastert exactly 0 problems.
If it were a Democrat saying that, of course, the Democrat would get roasted.

“Third: Why are the grown-ups in the Republican party the ones who get spanked? “

Because that’s the current state of the GOP. It’s like some SF book I read once, where, when somebody turned 30, they lost all civil rights, and were tossed out into the streets.

11

asdf 05.20.04 at 7:21 pm

Hastert is just pissed about not getting his $1.5 billion worth of highway money for his district.

He could give a shit about anything else.

12

Matt Weiner 05.20.04 at 7:40 pm

Brett, why is it worth noting? The comment would have been equally disgraceful if it had been directed against a Democrat who spent 5 1/2 years in the Hanoi Hilton.
In any case, McCain has voted with Republicans quite a lot. If you look at the Poole-Rosenthal D-NOMINATE scores McCain is well within the Republicans. (That’s a fancy way of saying, statistical analysis shows McCain votes with Republicans more than with Democrats.)

13

Paul 05.20.04 at 8:19 pm

I think what Brett is trying to say is that when you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way.

14

DJW 05.20.04 at 8:40 pm

What Matt said. McCain consistently has a pretty conservative voting record. He’s as likely to part ways with Republicans for conservative reasons as he is for moderate reasons.

15

Thomas 05.20.04 at 9:06 pm

In any event, what McCain said is just wrong. The fact that there is a war on may require sacrifice, but that’s not what McCain is calling for. Rather, he’s suggesting that Republicans and Democrats should sacrifice their tax and spending plans because of the war; McCain, on the other hand, will not sacrifice his tax and spending plans. Instead, the war justifies his tax and spending plans.

16

Matt Weiner 05.20.04 at 9:44 pm

Thomas, WTF? Don’t you think that McCain would like a lower deficit than he’s going to get, given that there’s a war on?

17

John Isbell 05.21.04 at 12:54 am

Listen. If you want to be in the Judaean People’s Front, you’ve got to REALLY hate the Romans.

I’d note that that’s Brett’s basic point, but I’m truly not interested in a reply from Brett.

18

Thomas 05.21.04 at 4:42 am

Matt, no I don’t. McCain favors a balanced budget in peacetime and in wartime, and he doesn’t much care whether the budget is balanced through spending cuts or tax increases. His calling for sacrifice in time of war isn’t something new; he’s also in favor of sacrifice (higher taxes or lower spending, or both) in peacetime. The only one who doesn’t have to suffer in war in the McCain scenario is John McCain. Republicans give up taxes, Democrats give up spending, and McCain gets the budget balance that he wants in peacetime as in war. Why is that a heroic position?

19

Brett Bellmore 05.21.04 at 11:17 am

Harry, you may think that Democrats’ motives in crossing over to vote for McCain were pure, but Republicans think that they’re entitled to chose their OWN nominee, thank you.

And a player can have a darned good record, and still be looked at askance if he’s got a habit of kicking the ball through the wrong goalpost when the game is important. McCain, justly or unjustly, isn’t known for all those little loyal votes, he’s known for the big issues like campaign finance deform, where he champions the OTHER side’s cause.

And if you want your opinion to carry weight within your party, you don’t do things like that. Hastert’s langage was badly chosen, his attitude a perfectly predictable consequence of McCain’s own choices.

20

Matt Weiner 05.21.04 at 6:13 pm

Thomas–
That would be an absolutely brilliant point if McCain were proposing to balance the budget. If McCain is proposing anything short of a balanced budget, then he’s sacrificing what you say is his own agenda because of the war.
Brett–
I owe you an apology; I thought your comments were directed toward Hastert’s “sacrifice” comment, but clearly they were directed toward the “Is he a Republican?” comment. I have no real problem with the GOP trying to define its own membership. In fact I encourage you to drive McCain out. :-) (The apology is sincere, though.)

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