Open letter to Sen. McCain

by Sam Steiger

Sonoran News printed this editorial on Sept. 2 – 8, 1998. Sam was an exceptional individual and an accomplished writer. From time to time we will revisit his thoughtful editorials.

Dear John: This is a genuinely sad moment for me. I voted early last week and I did not vote for you. In the faint hope that there are many like me who want to send you a clear message, you have gone too far down the traditional Washington path of non-principle and all focus on politically correct behavior. Your patently offensive support of a tobacco bill that did nothing but penalize smokers for the sins of the tobacco companies was almost certainly the last straw, I thought. But you have compounded your problem with the most insulting radio ad l have heard In my many decade relationship with Arizona politics. Your own kindness to me notwithstanding, your continued employment of Jay Smith as one of the many straws, the reason that your vote totals in the primary will lag behind other unopposed Republicans at the state wide level is because there are a lot of us who feel as I do.

John you are too good a man, essentially, to have gone so far down the road to political perdition. You have repeated the lie about the 3000 teenagers who start smoking every day, 100 of them you say will die from the smoking, that you almost certainly believe it yourself. Self delusion is the very worst kind. The number of teenagers starting to smoke that you quote in this totally deceptive ad, is not 3000 per day. It may be more, it is probably less, but the number you use comes from an Atlanta study made in 1989 by the Center for Disease Control, that stated 3000 new smokers a day OVER THE AGE OF TWENTY-ONE … You know this. You know that all the people who smoke will die. As will all the people who do not smoke, even you John, will die. You state further in this ad that assaults our very soul that the tobacco bill is actually a tax cutting bill. You simply cannot lend yourself to that kind of outright dishonesty without paying the price. You have sinned my Brother, and the sins have reached a point that they are not to be forgiven.

You have sold your soul for a mess of pottage. You are not a candidate for the Senate of the United States In the Jurisdiction served by the New York Times and the Washington Post. I personally do not believe that because you are beloved of Ted Koppel you are a better man. I was prepared to forgive the adoration of Judy Woodruf but now must add that to your list of transgressions.

You sir, are a fallen hero. A leader whose feet of clay reach all the way to your brain stem. For god’s sake man get a hold of yourself. Do not support the bumper sticker mentality of the political mechanics you have surrounded yourself with. Pull that ridiculous radio ad before It really ends your career. Face it, you will never be the President of the United States. You will certainly prevail in Arizona in the Senate race, but it will be by a narrower margin than it should have been. Take some time away from the constant guest appearances on the TV shows that seem so important to you. You are talking to the convinced, and your own continued reinforcement of the view of you as a voice of moderation when excess is called for Is a terrible disappointment.

Do not continue to parrot the current political mantra that all is for the children. Your tobacco bill would not have slowed the rate of teenage, and younger smoking, by one person.

Fondly, your disappointed friend, Sam.