McCain’s Service Problems

Am I the only one who’s eager to see the outcome when John McCain appears at the same forum with Barack Obama on 9/11 to discuss “their views on service and civic engagement in post-9/11 America”?

Yes, it’s the same John McCain whose nominating convention in St. Paul featured one speaker after another in an orchestrated series of snide, slanderous attacks on Barack Obama’s work as a community organizer in Chicago.

Dubbed a “Presidential Candidates Forum,” the gathering at Columbia University is sponsored by ServiceNation, a nonprofit group that describes its mission as follows:

“ServiceNation is a campaign for a new America. An America where citizens unite and take responsibility for the nation’s future. An America that restores the great tradition of citizen service, and honors the profound sacrifices made by so many Americans who have passed before, from the small band of Founders to the millions who have fought for equality and justice at home, and defended our freedom abroad. ServiceNation is about an America that is ruggedly idealistic, compassionate, and above all committed to the idea of shared sacrifice in pursuit of America’s boldest promise: liberty and justice for all.”

I certainly hope that the moderators — PBS senior correspondent and political editor Judy Woodruff and Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel — press McCain on his campaign’s assault on community organizing and how it jibes with the convention’s theme of “service.”

It also behooves ServiceNation’s Leadership Council — an impressively bipartisan, interfaith group, ranging from well-known progressives to religious and political conservatives — to ask one of its members, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, why he took part as a featured speaker at the GOP convention in that evening of smears against Obama’s record of working at the grass-roots level to serve his fellow Americans.

Observing the convention, “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart quipped that the sea of signs Republicans waved reading “service” referred to their desire for some from the wait staff at the Xcel Energy Center. Maybe Huckabee’s confused about the mission of the organization on whose board he, umm, serves.

Alice Chasan served as editor and associate publisher of Shelterforce from 2007 to 2008.


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