MLK a Hero to McCain? Not So Much

April 04, 2008 by susan
balcony Lorraine motel, pointing towards gunfire

On the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death, we should take note of the vast differences on race between John McCain and Barack Obama, and not just the obvious one.
Color of Change sent out the following reminder of John McCain's record in honoring the legacy of Dr. King.
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McCain will bring his "Service to America" tour to Memphis on Friday, but many people don't know the service he touts includes voting against the federal holiday honoring Dr. King. In August 1983 he fought the holiday, voting to block a piece of bipartisan legislation honoring him that was supported by even conservative Republicans--including Dick Cheney--and signed into law by President Reagan. It gets worse.

McCain went on to resist recognizing a King holiday in his home state of Arizona. When Arizona's state legislature failed to pass a bill recognizing a holiday honoring Dr. King, the governor at the time, Bruce Babbit, created the holiday by executive order. Babbit's successor, Gov. Evan Mecham rescinded the order as his first act in office, doing away with the holiday. John McCain's response? He defended the governor, not Dr. King. (After undoing the holiday, the same governor went on to publicly support referring to Black people as "pickaninnies").

In 1990, seven years after his initial vote, McCain went along with establishing a King holiday. On the campaign trail in 2000, facing questions about his history on this issue, McCain declared he had "evolved."

Looking at the rest of McCain's public record, even recently, it's hard to see much evidence of an "evolution". In fact, McCain has consistently opposed a civil rights agenda:

* He voted an amazing FOUR times against the Civil Rights Act of 1990--a bill designed to make it easier for employees to prove job discrimination and imposing harsher penalties on bosses who discriminated.
* In 2004 he opposed affirmative action in college admissions--a key component of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that is among King's key legislative victories.
* He has voted at least 8 times against raising the minimum wage.
* And as recently as last month, he argued against federal intervention to help Americans, disproportionately Black Americans, who have faced foreclosure during the housing crisis.

If John McCain has evolved, he hasn't evolved much. Instead, we see a consistent and troubling pattern. From campaigning against Dr. King's holiday to undermining important civil rights laws, John McCain has not stood side by side with King's vision, he has stood in its way.

Today, we hope that everyone will take a moment to pause and remember Dr. King's legacy, recognizing his contributions of words, deeds and ultimately his life. And we hope that all can see past political posturing (regardless of who it comes from) and embrace the bold, challenging vision that King actually projected. We believe that in doing so, we honor both his legacy and his sacrifice.

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Comments

max (not verified) | April 6, 2008 - 5:55am

Jimfest got me going on republican poetry and I can't stop. I apologize in advance. : )

MLK day? Most people adore it
McCain, strangely abhorred it
Just like the Bush tax cuts
the straight talking fact is
He was against it before he was for it!

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susan | April 6, 2008 - 12:14pm

Excellent! This applies to so much McCain -- the "I was against it before I was for it" (or vice versa) format.

I'm sure most CLBers have seen MoveOn's list of ten things about McCain that the press rarely notes, but in case you haven't, here they are below.

10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.1

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."2

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.3

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."4

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.5

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.6

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."7

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.8

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."9

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.10

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Anonymous (not verified) | April 6, 2008 - 2:00pm

Sounds like my kind of guy.

He's got my vote !!

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MOha (not verified) | April 3, 2009 - 5:24pm

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