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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

When the going gets tough, McCain chickens out

Republican presidential candidate John McCain spent Saturday in Washington, ostensibly to help forge an agreement on the federal bailout of troubled financial institutions, but he was conspicuously absent when his Senate colleagues voted to approve a $634 billion spending bill that included substantial funding for the U.S. military.

The reason? The bill was loaded with some $6 billion to pay for senators' home-state pet projects, the kind of "pork barrel" spending that Sen. McCain has railed against during his campaign for the White House.

Put simply, he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. If he voted for the bill, he would have been able to repeat his oft-stated campaign pledge that he'll never turn his back on the needs of the U.S. military, but he also would have been branded a hypocrite for authorizing some 2,000 pet projects. Voting "nay" on the bill, meanwhile, would have been in line with his "no more pork" pledge, but he would have been branded a hypocrite for voting against military funding (something he has accused Democratic presidential opponent Barack Obama of doing).

So McCain took the easy — and chicken's — way out. He simply didn't vote.

That's an interesting, and rather hypocritical, inaction from a man who often has criticized Obama for abstaining from votes while serving in the Illinois State Senate.



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