John McCain has been kidnapped. The republican senator from Arizona used to live peacefully in the land of moderates. He appealed to almost every American: a republican who sat happily in the middle, not too far right and yet not a democrat. But sadly this Vietnam War hero was taken hostage by a group far more dangerous than any Vietcong guerilla: the right wing of the Republican Party. This week, McCain said he would consider speaking at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. The senior senator criticized the college in his 2000 presidential campaign for its anti-Catholic views and ban on interracial dating, according to The Associated Press. McCain also blasted then-Gov. George W. Bush for speaking there during his campaign. That all changed on Monday. “I can’t remember when I’ve turned down a speaking invitation. I think I’d have to look at it,” McCain said of a possible invitation, according to The Associated Press. He goes from looking down on the university’s stance to considering it. What happened to the McCain that everybody could support? He disagreed with Bob Jones University’s views, and a lot of people still liked him. But that didn’t get him elected in 2000, did it? McCain has begun to understand what it takes to get elected: the support of his party’s extremists. In May, he spoke at Liberty University, a school the Rev. Jerry Falwell founded. According to CBSnews.com, McCain labeled Falwell an “agent of intolerance” in 2000 but now has made amends with the far-right reverend. What happened to the Straight Talk Express, the Sen. McCain who cared more about the good of our nation than about getting himself elected? That’s the McCain I, a democrat, was willing to support in 2008. How can he go from talking to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show to giving the commencement speech at a college founded by an intolerant extremist? McCain is realizing 2008 might be his last chance at becoming president before he becomes too old – he turned 70 this week. He found out being a reasonable candidate with moderate views isn’t going to get it done anymore (see Cleland, Max; Lieberman, Joseph). He must court the evangelical elephants (republicans) to secure a spot on the 2008 stage. In doing so, he has lost at least one voter’s support. I liked McCain when he defended the filibuster and when he voted to fund stem-cell research. If I want an extremist, I will vote for Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis. If 2008 comes down to McCain and Hilary Clinton, as much as it hurts me to say it, I might just have to vote for Clinton in this one. McCain was my favorite republican on the national stage, and he still can keep that title if he gets a ticket on the Straight Talk Express again. If he doesn’t, Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts looks quite attractive to someone with an open mind. God save us all if any more of the reasonable republicans are held ransom, if they’re not extinct by the time you read this.
Owen Kennedy is a junior in print journalism. Please send comments to email@example.com.