August 17, 2008

McCain vs. Indians

Now the truth is starting to come out about McCain's relationship with Indians:

McCain:  At a crossroads with Indian countryMcCain will remain a lawmaker to be reckoned with in Indian country if he doesn't win the presidency, a prospect that has generated a reluctance to criticize him on the record. In recent weeks, however, each of the following concerns has been raised by Natives who either liked him in the past, due to the knowledge of Indian country that he derives from representing Arizona tribes in the Senate; or who liked him in the past and still do, based on personal familiarity and character:

* McCain is opposed to raising taxes and in favor of balancing the budget. "That will only happen on the backs of Indian people."

* He has spoken highly of Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Neither has distinguished himself as an opponent of Indian country, exactly; but the next president will likely make several appointments to the aging court, and the great weight of opinion in Indian country is that a strong majority, cast in the McCain-favored mold of Roberts and Alito, would represent a clear and present danger to tribal rights.

* During his second stint as chairman of the SCIA, 2005 to 2007, with his Republican Party in the majority, his high-profile initiatives were to join GOP hard-liners in a failed rally against off-reservation gaming and to stiffen the requirements for the federal recognition of tribes. Meanwhile, issues that were all but invisible to non-Indians, such as law enforcement, health care, education and the rural drug crisis, got nothing like the attention they should have, in the view of numerous tribal and Indian-issue advocates.

* The candidate made a televised spectacle of himself on sex equity not long ago, misremembering quite how he had voted on a bill that would have given women the same insured access to birth control pills that men have to Viagra (he opposed the bill twice). Just as damning is that McCain declined comment on an evolving effort of President Bush's administration to regulate taking birth control pills as self-administered abortion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

* On the environment, McCain is still remembered for bringing a telescope to Mount Graham in Arizona, to the disruption of Apache culture and red squirrel habitat. And he is viewed with concern in some quarters for a commitment to offshore oil drilling and exploration, an agenda that could expand to include the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in view of McCain's refusal to disavow oil extraction there.

One leader of the senior generation was more than willing to go on record against McCain. Elmer M. Savilla, Quechan, has a long memory of McCain, going back to the late 1980s, when he believes the SCIA injudiciously pursued Navajo leader Peter MacDonald. He is also convinced that McCain could have gone beyond the "one good shot" he gave to settling the litigation over the Individual Indian Money trust, in the case of Cobell v. Kempthorne.

"John McCain at one time claimed that he was a friend of Indians," Savilla said. "He hasn't done anything substantial except hold an occasional hearing and talk like a friend.

"I'm telling everybody out there that he's not the guy. He's not the man for Indian country."
Below:  McCain shows his concern for people the day after Hurricane Katrina.


dmarks said...

#1 is nothing to do with Indians, really.

#2 says says that the two justices are not opponents of Indian country (yet), but then says that unnamed possible justices just like these two would be opponents of Indian country. There is a total lack of connection here.

#3 is related to Indians (unlike #1), and has a logical internal connection (unlike #2), so that is part of a good case against McCain. The best argument that McCain is a danger to Indian Country out of the 5, one of only two that is related to Indian Country.

#4 A general-population issue also, not Indian-related at all.

#5 Mt Graham is Indian-related, but ANWR is not.

He doesn't do his arguments very good by throwing a bunch of items at McCain, only a minority of which are Native-related.

Rob said...

1) Budget issues affect everyone. They especially affect the most vulnerable populations, including Indians.

2) The "strong majority" referred to includes Justices Scalia and Thomas as well as Roberts and Alito. Scalia and Thomas have a history of ruling against Indians. More justices in the Scalia/Thomas/Roberts/Alito mold would be bad for Indian country.

3) This is obviously an issue but so are the others.

4) The Republican bias against women affects everyone. It especially affects the most vulnerable populations, including Indians.

5) Drilling in ANWR is a Native issue. As one commenter put it: "One of the two indigenous groups in the area has supported drilling ANWR with the caveat that the seas were off limits (the other, the Gwi'chin, oppose it outright)."