McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

Every time I read about the shenanigans of John McCain, I tell myself, "This is the last time I get surprised by his actions." Well, lo and behold, despite trying to rid myself of any and all expectations regarding McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has once again shocked me, this time by not only failing to support an important 21st century GI bill that would ensure that those putting their lives on the line to protect this country are justly compensated, but he went a step further and refused to even show up for a vote. Here's the DNC release:

While John McCain was campaigning and raising money in California today, the Senate voted on a bipartisan to bill to support our brave men and women in uniform by helping them pay for college when they complete their service.  Unlike both Democratic presidential candidates, who took time off the campaign trail to support our troops by voting for the 21st Century GI Bill, Senator McCain refused.

Senator McCain might not have voted, but he has made his views perfectly clear.  Instead of joining the 75 senators from both parties who voted for the bill and just about every major veterans group--all of which supported it--Senator McCain chose to echo the Bush Administration's opposition.   Senator McCain claimed the bill would provide too much incentive for the brave men and women who volunteered to serve after 9/11 to leave the armed forces, even though a Congressional Budget Office study found that the bill's impact on retention would be offset by a matching increase in recruitment.  Senator McCain offered a watered down version of the bill that would have offered a reduced benefit and required many veterans to pay out of their own pockets to receive it.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement on John McCain's refusal to support our veterans and military families:

"America's veterans and military families deserve better than a candidate who is willing to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years, but refuses to take care of them when they come home. The men and women in who volunteer to put on the uniform of the United States of America risk their lives to defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to help them be successful when they come home. While Senator McCain talks about supporting our troops and veterans on the campaign trail, his real record tells a much different story.  While we honor his service to our country, Senator McCain's double talk on veterans' benefits is one more reason he is the wrong choice for America's future."

While McCain may believe that he can get away unscathed for his gamesmanship on this issue, the American people do not like it when career politicians play games with American troops. The fact that this vote occurred on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, when a significant proportion of voters are otherwise preoccupied with travel and other things of the like, might mean that this will not yet show up on the radar for many folks.

But this vote is now solidly on the record and will almost undoubtedly show up later in the campaign. If you want to get a sense at how bad of politics (not to mention policy) it is not to have supported this measure, take a look at the roll call. Virtually every Republican in a competitive or potentially competitive reelection campaign this fall voted in favor of the legislation, including hard right conservatives like John Sununu of New Hampshire, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Ted Stevens of Alaska, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi (as well as faux-moderates like Gordom Smith of Oregon, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and Susan Collins of Maine). The only "no" votes from potentially endangered incumbents came from Texas' John Cornyn, who is an unabashed and entirely unrepentant conservative, and Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, who likely felt obligated to vote with the stragglers within the GOP caucus on account of his position as Minority Leader.

Yet despite the fact that the vast majority of the Republican Senators who will be on the ballot this fall realized that it would be an act of extreme political malfeasance and tone deafness not to vote in favor of this important legislation, McCain not only would not vote for the measure, he went a step further and refused to show the courage or moral surety to even show his face on the floor of the Senate at the time of the vote to make his voice heard on the issue. Oh yes, this is a problem for McCain, one that will likely dog him all the way through election day.

Tags: John McCain, veterans (all tags)

Comments

24 Comments

BRING IT ON!

Can't wait to clobber this fool. The Repugs messed up when they chose him as their nominee. This will be a cakewalk. For either candidate.

by spacemanspiff 2008-05-22 10:35AM | 0 recs
Didn't stop him...

...from taking this shot at Obama:

http://thepage.time.com/mccain-statement -criticizing-obama-on-veterans-bill/

"Unlike Senator Obama, my admiration, respect and deep gratitude for America's veterans is something more than a convenient campaign pledge."

If his admiration, respect and gratitude is so deep, he could have shown up and cast his vote against Webb's bill, and stated on the Senate floor his reasons why.  

But that's just me.  

by mascho 2008-05-22 10:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Didn't stop him...

I'm a big Obama supporter, but McCain's response was pretty strong. So, although I think we can still use this against McCain, I think some careful thought needs to go into any strategy for doing so. It'll be tough to argue that McCain just doesn't care about vets--since his entire family history and reputation is defined by military service--but we can still argue that he's wrong to be stingy with benefits to those who've made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

by DPW 2008-05-22 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Didn't stop him...

Insert the word "available" between "benefits" and "to" in that final sentence.

by DPW 2008-05-22 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Didn't stop him...

McCain has actually missed the most votes, I'm quite sure. He was way worse than everyone else a few months back, and I doubt much has changed.

http://www.ablogistan.com/archives/2007/ 11/presidential_ca.html

by DPW 2008-05-22 11:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Didn't stop him...

Obama missed the most votes?  McCain has missed just about every vote this year.  So stop trolling with the Obama missing votes nonsense.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2008-05-22 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Didn't stop him...

I assume that you're replying to Josey (above my comment), since I completely agree with you.

by DPW 2008-05-22 11:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Didn't stop him...

Here's a more recent (March, 2008) report:

Obama lags if one's entire career is considered, but that is explained primarily by the fact that Obama has been campaigning for a much larger portion of his career.

by DPW 2008-05-22 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Didn't stop him...

John McCain has missed more votes than any current U.S. Senator (including Tim Johnson).

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congr ess/110/senate/vote-missers/

by CrazyDrumGuy 2008-05-22 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

And the president, who has made the ultimate Republican sacrifice of giving up a golf game (strike that: made a Republican sacrifice not the ultimate. Ultimate sacrifice would be a Repub sacrificing a dollar or two to help someone less fortunate than themselves) in order to show solidarity with them and not send the wrong signal, is going to veto the bill.

by Juno 2008-05-22 10:42AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

And the president, who has made the ultimate Republican sacrifice of giving up a golf game (strike that: made a Republican sacrifice not the ultimate. Ultimate sacrifice would be a Repub sacrificing a dollar or two to help someone less fortunate than themselves) in order to show solidarity with them and not send the wrong signal, is going to veto the bill.

by Juno 2008-05-22 10:42AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

He never even gave up golf. What an ass.  I agree, McCain is being advised by fools. This is what got John Kerry in trouble the I was before it before I was against it crap. Yes, it will also doom John McCain.

by sweet potato pie 2008-05-22 10:50AM | 0 recs
I can't imagine what he's thinking

Is there some way to possibly spin this?  I know that he's got his own bill, where you get benefits after six tours... but crimeny.

I suppose he can say that he didn't vote against it.  That's something.

by Dracomicron 2008-05-22 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

Frankly, I don't think this is a fight we really want to pick with McCain.   I can just envision a debate in the fall where Obama calls him on this and then McCain comes back by talking about his service, how all his best friends are veterans, and then points out that Obama didnt serve and probably doesn't even have any close friends that veterans.

Its really not about whether this bill was better than McCain's bill.  The public will never understand those intricacies.  Its just about who McCain is versus who Obama is, and this isn't a particularly good issue to stress in that respect.

by Fuzzy Dunlop 2008-05-22 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

Why live in fear on an issue that's good for us? McCain is a hypocrite, like most of the GOP in Congress. His serving has nothing to do with the issue, and in fact, can be used by a skillful politician against him. More than Bush, or Cheney, he should know better, and still he decided that some things were too good for veterans. To top it off, he decided to openly oppose the plan, but was too much of a coward to actually vote against it. His charge of political opportunism is weak, especially when it's easily demonstrable what an opportunist he is.

by Clancy 2008-05-22 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

You have to pick your battles.  Sometimes even when you're right, it doesn't matter.

by Fuzzy Dunlop 2008-05-22 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

What do you think about certain surrogates (e.g., Webb, Biden, Wes Clark, et al) criticizing McCain on this issue? I think it would have to be done with some care (and ideally not so much by Obama directly), but I think there are effective ways of using this against McCain.

by DPW 2008-05-22 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

I think you are correct that the right person might be able to do it.  But I'd rather see Obama himself focus his fire elsewhere.  

by Fuzzy Dunlop 2008-05-22 11:47AM | 0 recs
Webb

It's his bill after all. Webb is in a perfect position to light him up over this and point out that Obama was there for the troops rather than at a fundraiser in CA.

by Purplepeople 2008-05-22 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

Screw that!!  Is there is one lesson you seem to have forgotten of KKKarl it is that you use your opponents strength against him.  Today's vote.  The fact that McCain has had government health care all his life.  You name it.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2008-05-22 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

Not acceptable for a soldier.  Nothing could have been more important than showing up to vote for this bill except running as far away from this bill as possible. Will the media even report this?

by temptxan 2008-05-22 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

There is a double standard here.  Imagine if Obama skipped the vote, he would be ripped a new one by the right wing talking heads.  This decision by McCain will NOT, I repeat NOT effect 1 vote by any Military families.  It's true, but sad.  WHY you might say.  2 reasons.
#1- The media will under-report this vital story.
#2- UNFORTUNATELY, Military families continue to vote for the GOP even though the GOP doesn't have their interest at hand.

What sadness, ignorance and stupidity.  
(I guess they would rather die In IRAQ, then vote for Obama.)

by nzubechukwu 2008-05-22 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Skips Important GI Bill Vote

What a jackass.  He can't even be bothered to show up?  Yeesh.

by bosdcla14 2008-05-22 11:22AM | 0 recs
John W. McCoward

by Lefty Coaster 2008-05-22 11:32AM | 0 recs

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