Sunday, August 03, 2008

Asking the Right Questions: McCain

Randy Balko poses questions for McCain:
In your January primary debate, you referred to "greedy" Wall Street stockbrokers, and in contrasting your career to the business career of Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, you said, "I led the largest squadron in the United States Navy. And I did it out of patriotism, not for profit." Do you think a career in public service is inherently more noble and virtuous than a career in the private sector? Are people who spend their lives on the taxpayer dole as politicians and government employees simply better people than those who create wealth and jobs through private enterprise?
After the Supreme Court's decision in the Heller gun rights case, you admirably commented, "This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms." I couldn't agree more. But on the subject of campaign finance reform, you said in 2006 that, "I would rather have a clean government than one where, quote, First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government." How do you reconcile these two positions? Is a "clean" government (whatever that means) really more important than the rights and freedoms of its citizens?
In 1989, your wife Cindy became addicted to the prescription drugs Percocet and Vicodin. Eventually, she began stealing medication from the non-profit medical charity she ran to assist the victims of war and disaster areas. You and your wife were able to negotiate a settlement with the Justice Department that let her off with restitution and admission to a rehabilitation center, but no fines, jail time or even public disclosure. Certainly no one could fault you for trying to save your spouse from criminal sanction. But you're consistently one of the most strident drug warriors in Congress. You've voted to strengthen penalties against those who use and traffic in both illicit drugs and who divert prescription drugs. You've supported mandatory minimums and harsher penalties for first-time offenders. Why shouldn't average people without powerful connections who make the same mistakes your wife made be shown the same leniency and mercy the criminal justice system showed her?
I cannot imagine these questions coming up in the debates. But they should.

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