Last week, the News-Times came out with its presidential endorsements, and not surprisingly, McCain was the Republican choice. After all, he's already the presumptive nominee.

However, the paper used 'his maverick reputation and moderate voting record' as justification for its support.

Both of these assumptions require a bit more examination.

Let's take his voting record. Despite the fact that right-wing blowhards initially slammed McCain for being too 'moderate,' he has a lifetime voting record of 82 percent positive (according to the American Conservative Union), taking the conservative Republican party line on all the 'hot' issues such as abortion, guns, and gay rights.

Since beginning his run for the presidency, his 2007 voting record puts him totally in sync with the Bush administration 95% of the time. That hardly seems like a moderate.

As for his reputation as a maverick, McCain has shown himself all too eager to take a 180 degree turn (i.e. 'flip flop') on the few issues on which he bucked his party. The level-headed senator who, in 2001, came out as one of only two Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans now feels they should be made permanent.

And how about his decrying the likes of hypocritical preachers such as Jerry Falwell (in 2004) as 'agents of intolerance,' only to gleefully accept their endorsements, speak at their colleges and publicly praise them as part of his campaign?

Although the News-Times fell short of repeating the other descriptor of McCain as 'war hero,' with its implicit understanding that means an avid 'supporter of the troops,' McCain once again falls short.

Besides the fact that he is Bush's #1 cheerleader for continuing the occupation of Iraq for '100 years' (or more), and relishes the thought of 'bomb, bomb bombing Iran,' he has repeatedly voted against real support of the troops.

Most recently, he has refused to sign on to sponsor the bipartisan G.I. Bill for the 21st Century, which updates the current G.I. bill for post 9/11 veterans. He has repeatedly voted against all sorts of appropriations for health care, outpatient care and improved medical facilities for our veterans (Aug 2001, April 2003, March, April and May 2006).

Much of McCain's 'war hero' status stems from the five years he spent as a POW during Viet Nam. This experience should have taught him that torture is wrong.

However, after making many speeches decrying torture, on Feb. 13 McCain voted for a bill allowing torture to continue, against US and international law. Allowing torture will only endanger our troops if they become prisoners.

There may have been a time in McCain's political career when he could have legitimately been considered a maverick with a moderate voting record, but those days are long gone. He has proven himself to be nothing more than a desperate politician, willing to do and say anything to get to the White House.

Paulina Kriebel lives in Forest Grove.

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