The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Saturday, May 20, 2006

McCain jeered at commencement-- and still moving rightward

McCain' received broad praise for his speech at Liberty University-- strangely, it was for not addressing divisive religious issues. But McCain wasn't so well-received for delivering virtually the same speech at New York's New School. Particularly when he used the occasion to tout his support for the war.

The school's tradition of dissent carried on today. Scores of New School students held orange signs, and a few banners, reading "McCain Does Not Speak For Me," and "Our Commencement Is Not Your Platform." What began as mild rumblings of disapproval before McCain's speech soon exploded into boos, catcalls and turned backs.

The spark was provided by undergraduate keynote speaker Jean Sara Rohe, a composed, seemingly innocuous jazz musician and singer. After beginning with a short folk song (true to classic graduation speech form) Rohe quickly tossed aside her prepared remarks to directly address McCain.

"This ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering it should be," Rohe said. "The Senator does not reflect the ideals on which this school was founded. This was a top-down decision in which the students played no part." The crowd erupted.

"I consider this a time of crisis and I feel compelled to speak," Rohe continued, referencing McCain's speech at Falwell's Liberty University last Saturday.

She paraphrased McCain's words on the folly of youthful stubbornness and ignorance.

"I am young, but I do know that pre-emptive war is dangerous and wrong," she said. "Osama bin Laden has not been found, nor those weapons of mass destruction." The vast majority of the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

I'll be on the lookout for video-- and for hilarious comments by outraged conservatives talking on the ill-mannered rudeness of these youngsters. Although I wouldn't have been too keen on my graduation ceremony turned into a campaign speech, either.

The New Republic also notes that McCain is making nice with yet another political enemy from 2000. He's a Bush defender after being torpedoed by BushCo's dirty tricks, a Falwell fan after being the fundies most hated Republican, and now this. It could be a clean sweep, with McCain embracing everything that's wrong with his own party.

It's not exactly news that John McCain is perfectly happy cozying up to his old adversaries if that's what it takes for him to get to the White House, but all the hubbub over McCain's rapprochement with Jerry Falwell seems to have overshadowed some of the other, uh, fence-mending he's been doing of late. Earlier this week, McCain let the Texas businessmen and brothers Charles and Sam Wyly host a fundraiser for him in Dallas.

The Wyly brothers, as you may remember, funded a front-group called Republicans for Clean Air that spent $2.5 million during the 2000 Republican presidential primary savaging McCain's environmental record; given the Wylys' long friendship with the Bush family--plus the $200,000 they'd given to George W. Bush's campaigns--it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out whom Republicans for Clean Air was really working for. McCain certainly had no doubt. At the time he referred to the Wyly brothers as Bush's "sleazy Texas buddies."

Apparently McCain has decided it's only worth being a "maverick" when it doesn't involve corporate cash or a right-wing voting bloc.

UPDATE: As you can see from the comments, an observer noted that I've repeatedly conflated Bob Jones University with Falwell's Liberty University. Corrections made, and my apologies for the mistake.