Sunday, July 13, 2008

An Open Letter to Senator John McCain

Several weeks ago on LinkedIn, Senator John McCain, candidate for President in the US, asked this question:

What is the biggest issue facing America?

I am pleased to offer my response below.

Dear Senator McCain:

I think the biggest issue is the willingness to go beyond what many in our culture uphold as the "Virtue of Selfishness." As you... see more say on your website, you must be willing to give yourself to "a cause greater than your own self interest." I think in that simple phrase you have captured precisely the way in which all of us have to work to realign our personal, professional, and communal values.

I see many instances in your military and professional career that serve as excellent examples of serving a greater cause. Certainly your courage in North Vietnam for so many years is an example to all, and I have used your story many times in trying to instill an appreciation for the value of life, courage, and service in my son.

None of us is perfect, and I do not expect perfection. But there are two particulars in your record that I find troublesome. In 1998 you voted "guilty" on both articles of the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. While I think his affair with Monica Lewinsky was a terrible choice for himself and his family, I do not see how this affected the country to the degree that impeachment and removal from office was justified. I see the action to impeach as a desperate, politically despicable act that did much more harm to political climate and process than a small stain on a blue dress. I hold that a vote to impeach in this case may have been politically expedient, good in the short term for those in power in the Senate, but in the long run, damaging to your country.

Many will argue technicalities. Perjury was involved, and so on. The essential fact is that President Clinton had an illicit affair. While reprehensible, it did not warrant formal impeachment.

The second case involves your judgment on foreign policy issues. We now know that misleading information was submitted to the House and Senate to justify military action in Iraq. We were told for months that Iraq contained weapons of mass destruction. Information to the contrary was suppressed, even to the point that members of Mr. Cheney's office revealed the name of a CIA agent when her husband refuted the validity of evidence of nuclear weapons that had been fabricated by the Bush administration. Due to misleading and fabricated information, then, we have lost over 4000 of our friends and neighbours, and over 30,000 of our friends and neighbours are permanently disabled.

Your country has spent nearly 2 trillion dollars on a war that did not have to be, and that is not likely to bring any higher degree of stability to the middle east than existed before the military action you approved. Does the loss of 4000 lives and trillions of taxpayer dollars warrant at least an investigation into possible misleading and fabricated evidence? If these losses do not warrant investigation, what level of loss would you consider sufficient trigger for a formal investigation?

I will always admire you, Senator. But on the basis of your lack of good judgment in two areas that have brought disgrace to your country and pain to so many families, I cannot support your intentions for a leadership position in the Senate, and certainly not for the office of President.

Respectfully and With Best Regards,

Pearson Moore

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