Republican Sen. John McCain’s passing is a sad event for this country and especially for the family and friends of the long-serving Arizona senator, patriot, and Vietnam War hero.
Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are falling all over themselves to heap praise on McCain, who died Saturday.
But look how differently these same Democrats talked about McCain not that long ago.
Barack Obama, for example, who will speak during one of McCain’s funeral services, said shortly after the senator’s passing was announced that he and the man he defeated in the 2008 presidential election “saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. ”
The reality, however, is that Obama’s public statements about McCain were far from noble back in 2008.
During one of their debates, Obama said, “John, you are absolutely right, presidents have to be prudent about what they say. But coming from you, who in the past have threatened extinction for North Korea and sung songs about bombing Iran, I don’t know how credible that is.”
But accusing McCain of being a reckless bomber was just one of the many insults Obama hurled at his Republican opponent. There was, according to Obama, the McCain disconnected from the pain of real Americans: “I don’t believe that Sen. McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans — I just think he doesn’t know.”
And there was the selfish McCain catering to heartless corporations that shipped American jobs overseas. Obama, by contrast, promised that “Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship our jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.”
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Not only was McCain a tool of the Fortune 500, Obama insisted, he was also slavishly loyal to President George W. Bush: “The record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Sen. McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush was right more than 90 percent of the time?”
And worst of all, according to Obama, McCain had nothing but smears for Democrats: “Sen. McCain and his operatives are gambling that they can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance. They’d rather try to tear our campaign down than lift this country up. That’s what you do when you’re out of touch, out of ideas, and running out of time.”
Then there’s Joe Biden, who is also scheduled to speak at one of McCain’s services in the week ahead. He said this in a statement on Saturday: “John McCain’s life is proof that some truths are timeless. Character. Courage. Integrity. Honor. A life lived embodying those truths casts a long, long shadow.”
Apparently Biden was referring to a different John McCain when he told the 2008 Democratic National Convention that “our country is less secure and more isolated than at any time in recent history. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole, with very few friends to help us climb out … John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.”
“It’s John McCain who wears $500 shoes, has six houses, and comes from one of the richest families in his state.”
It must have been a different McCain — because not long after the convention, Biden debated former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate.
When Palin talked about McCain’s being independent, Biden tore into the maverick, saying, “Let’s talk about the maverick John McCain. I love him, he’s been a maverick on some issues, but he’s been no maverick on the things that matter in people’s lives. He voted four or five times for George Bush’s budget … he hasn’t been a maverick in providing health care for people. He voted against including another 3.6 million children in coverage under an existing health care plan …”
He continued, “He has not been a maverick when it comes to education. He’s not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college. He’s not been a maverick on the war.”
“He hasn’t been a maverick on virtually any of the things that generally affect the things that people talk about around the kitchen table: Can we get Mom’s MRI? Can we send Mary back to school next semester? How we gonna heat the house this winter? He even voted against providing what they call LiHEP, with oil prices going through the roof, so maverick he is not.”
Then there’s Chuck Schumer, who now wants to rename the Russell Senate Office Building the McCain Senate Office Building because of McCain’s “sacrifice, his patriotism and his fidelity to do the right thing.”
But look what Schumer said about McCain way back when: “It’s John McCain who wears $500 shoes, has six houses, and comes from one of the richest families in his state. It’s Barack Obama who climbed up the hard way, and that’s why he wants middle-class tax cuts and better schools for our kids.”
And finally there’s Nancy Pelosi, who said on Monday that America “is in tears” as a result of McCain’s passing.
She wasn’t nearly as nice when McCain warned the week before the 2008 presidential election that choosing Obama as president and keeping Democrats in charge of both the Senate and the House of Representatives would be “dangerous.” Pelosi scathingly accused him of using “scare tactics.”
Pelosi didn’t trust McCain back then, either, “because [McCain] has endorsed whatever George Bush has wanted, whether it’s his failed economic policies, or his failed policy in Iraq … Even on subjects that he’s good on, like global warming and the rest — he was good on immigration and he did a 180 on that.”