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‘The Real McCain’

The Real McCainWhen John McCain showed up to campaign recently in Seattle and Bellevue, Wash., union members were there to ask him about his role in awarding a major military contract to a foreign company. Word has it, he encouraged the U.S. Department of Defense in February to give a $40 billion-to-$100 billion contract for the construction of Air Force refueling tankers to Northrop Grumman and to the European firm EADS, which makes the Airbus, rather than U.S.-based Boeing.

In Cleveland, as McCain met with wealthy corporate donors at a high-priced reception at the Intercontinental hotel, workers and their families gathered outside to ask for real solutions to the problems they face. They carried hundreds of giant, signed "band-aids" from their fellow workers, a symbol of the need for real solutions to America’s health care crisis.

Down in Miami and southern Florida, while McCain was claiming our country is on the wrong track because the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement didn’t pass, union members and global trade activists wanted to know why he would support a deal with a nation that tolerates the murder of dozens of trade unionists ever year—39 trade unionists were murdered in 2007, and another 17 have been killed in 2008. And of the more than 2,500 murders of trade unionists since 1986, the government has successfully prosecuted less than 3 percent of these cases.

Wherever McCain stumps, he is met by union members seeking to know why he wants to increase taxes on workplace health insurance, why he opposes fair pay for women, why he doesn’t get that lack of funding is fueling the nation’s infrastructure crisis…the list goes on. And it’s long.

As part of the AFL-CIO’s McCain Revealed campaign, these rapid response efforts may be starting to tickle the senator’s famous temper, with McCain aides in Portland, Ore., threatening to arrest union members if they approached the room in which McCain was holding an event. In Colorado, the McCain campaign took a page from George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns by refusing to allow state residents to take part in his town hall meeting in Denver unless they were McSupporters.

Early this year, union members in several states invited McCain to join worker roundtables to discuss jobs, the housing crisis, the economy and other issues that concern us all. But he didn’t bother to respond to the invitations, let alone show up. (Oh, wait—he did respond to an invitation by Arizona working families—declining to attend days after the roundtable took place.)

In Annapolis, Md., he missed an opportunity to hear firsthand how the economic crisis is affecting real people like Beverly Norton, an AFSCME union member and 20-year state employee. She’s at risk of losing her home because her economic situation has left her without a safety net.

I had wanted a piece of the American Dream and purchased a home. My mother became disabled two years ago and was not able to work. In two year’s time, I have gone through my 401(k), borrowed money and had to file for bankruptcy when my home was put up for foreclosure. I am not eligible for any assistance programs, and I may end up losing my home. Where can I find a decent place that I can afford? There needs to be real help for people. McCain says it will work itself out. This is not about houses, this is about people.

McCain has said that when it comes to looking for a Supreme Court justice, John Roberts and Samuel Alito meet his standards “in every way” and “would serve as the model” for his nominees if he were elected president. If true, this would be bad news for all of us who work for a living. Here are a few cases where Roberts and Alito have played decisive roles.

  • Alito was the author of the May 2007 opinion that ruled against Lilly Ledbetter’s right to challenge the pay discrimination she faced on the job. Roberts joined that opinion, which fundamentally changed the way workers could fight discrimination at work.
  • In January 2008, the Supreme Court, led by Roberts, refused to hear a case against Enron, which would have held executives accountable for defrauding their employees and investors.

We’re doing all we can to uncover the McCain record, dust off the corporate media’s "straight-talker" spin and find out what a McCain presidency would mean for working people. This Friday, May 30, the AFL-CIO is hosting Firedoglake’s own Cliff Schecter and Jane Hamsher. Jane will join Cliff as shares juicy tidbits from his new book, The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don’t Trust Him and Why Independents Shouldn’t.

If you’re in town, stop by at 6 p.m. for the discussion, and for free beer and wine afterward. If you’ve seen Cliff on cable news shows, taking apart Bush McClone commentators, you know this event will provide some fireworks.

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Tula Connell

Tula Connell