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Thank Senator McCain For Insisting On Civility On Hannity & Colmes

Reported by Ellen - March 31, 2006 -

Senator John McCain was a guest on Hannity & Colmes last night (3/30/06) to discuss the immigration bill he co-authored with Senator Ted Kennedy. It was a lengthy interview which, for a change, deserved the double-segment that the show allotted. It’s worth watching the video, called Sen. John McCain, on FOXNews.com not only for the substance of his comments on immigration but also because he repeatedly underscored the need for respectful and civil debate between opposing views. Gee, I wonder if he had anyone in particular in mind.

McCain first mentioned the issue when Alan Colmes asked, “How do you and Ted Kennedy get along?”

McCain answered, “Fine. I try to get along well with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. I try very hard…”

Sean Hannity interrupted to take his turn with a “joke.” “See, that’s your mistake, Senator, right there.”

McCain smiled but he didn’t really seem amused. “Sean, I think one of the things we need to do more of is respect each other’s views. We can fight fiercely on our varying differences on issues and I’ll fight with Ted Kennedy on most of them but I think that Ted and I, after a year of negotiations, have come up with what we think is a reasonable proposal which, by the way, is supported by the US Chamber business organizations as well as some of labor.”

Hannity seemed chastened. He dropped the swagger and for once, debated the issues honestly. “Look, there are some good things,” he acknowledged, then explained without demonizing or attacking anyone what his objections to the bill were. (Memo to Hannity: Not that you’re likely to care, but once you dropped the bullying and demonizing, I actually found your comments interesting.)

But asking Hannity to go a double segment without attacking anyone is probably just too much for the guy. After the break, he started in on Mexican President Vicente Fox, albeit with less-than-usual vitriol. “Mexico is literally assisting law-breaking by giving out these maps. He won’t even use the word (sic) ‘illegal immigration.’ They won’t extradite cop-killers back to America. Are they really our friends?”

McCain immediately blunted the attack and brought the discussion back to higher ground. “I think they’re our friends but more importantly, Sean, there’s no way you’re going to sever them from being the country next to the United States. There’s serious problems with corruption, particularly along the border… and there’s enormous problems with the Mexican economy. I understand why a politician who is a Mexican president would say they’re migrants, they’re not ‘illegal.’ but we have to demand of the Mexicans as part of this deal better border patrols, set up incentives for people to come back from the United States to Mexico.”

When it was Colmes’ turn again, he focused on McCain’s potential run for president in 2008. Colmes said that in 2000, McCain referred to Jerry Falwell “as one of America’s agents of intolerance” but now McCain will speak at the graduation ceremony at Falwell’s Liberty University. “Did you have a rapprochement with Reverend Falwell? …Have you changed your point of view about that”

McCain answered, “I don’t look back. I think one of the most important things for me, lesson from the year 2000 is not to look back in anger. Of course I was unhappy at the time... The fact is that I said things that probably weren’t totally accurate. But I don’t apologize for them. I just move on. And I do not hold grudges and that’s one of the hardest lessons I have learned but one of the most important lessons in political life.”

Colmes asked if he’d run a campaign differently than he did in 2000.

“No, no.” McCain said he has not decided whether he’ll run again “but I have to tell you again the most wonderful experience in my life was to be able to run for President of the United States.”

As the interview ended, McCain pointedly said, “Thanks for having me on and thanks for this respectful debate and discussion on this very important issue.”

It looks to me like McCain is going to run for president. Let’s put the issue of FOX News’ McCarthyite tactics on his plate by letting him know of our concern about the divisiveness of some on the right, thanking him for keeping his own discussion on a civilized course and asking him to do what he can to improve the level of national debate.

You can email Senator McCain via his web page at http://mccain.senate.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=Contact.Home