Editor's note: The following is satire.
"I don't know, Senator," says John McCain's assistant. "There's no return address. Just a Phoenix postmark."
"Who else?" McCain holds up one of the black flip-flops. "Not even my size." He flips the rubber sandal back into the box, tosses it to his assistant. "Get Shiree in here."
Fifteen minutes later, McCain, his composure reclaimed, leans back, hands clasped behind his head. His campaign manager, Shiree Verdone sits across the desk, jotting notes onto a yellow legal pad. "Talk about your flip-floppers," says McCain. "Gates and Mullen aren't on board on this, my friend. They're just parroting their boss. They want to keep 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' as much as I do."
"I don't know, John," says Verdone. "They seemed sincere. That 'integrity' line of Admiral Mullen turned some heads. What was it he said? 'It comes down to integrity. Theirs as an individual, ours as an institution.' His 'do the right thing' thing? That seemed real enough."
"I'm not buying it. Their so-called Commander-in-Chief trots out an old campaign promise, they hop to and salute."
"Well, the admiral seems genuinely bothered that 66,000 soldiers and sailors have to lie in order to serve their country. In any event, we have a bigger problem."
"Your '06 statement. You said you'd reconsider if the military brass favored repeal. Hayworth's going to add this one to his list, you can bet on it."
"That was then, this is now," says McCain, agitated anew. "And as far as J.D. Hayworth's concerned, I got that sorry s.o.b. off the air and I'm going to whip his butt come August."
"I'm just afraid he's going to nail you on the flip-flop thing, John. Immigration...the bailout... torture...domestic spying...wire taps..."
"Ok, ok, I hear you."
"...Bush's tax cuts...Roe v. Wade...gay marriage...the environment...energy...Guantanamo Bay--you're arguing against your original positions. Maybe it's not too late to take a tougher stand on the Supremes' decision to gut McCain-Feingold. Hayworth's coming on strong with the 'consistent conservative' message. He's going to come after you on..."
"Look, I don't give two hoots about J.D. Hayworth." McCain leans forward. "Now, let's get to back to work on that DADT platform statement. How about this? 'I appreciate their service, and I honor their sacrifice but it's simply unfeasible for blacks to serve in the military. And...'
Verdone interrupts, tactfully.
"What?" says McCain. "Oh, right, of course. Let's start over. 'I appreciate their service, I honor their sacrifice,' blah, blah, blah, so on and so forth. But there are legitimate reasons why women cannot serve in the military. Not that I have anything against...'
Verdone interrupts again.
"Oh, for chrissakes." McCain rubs his eyes, shakes his head. "Focus, McCain, focus. One more time, Shiree. 'I appreciate their service, I honor their sacrifice but there are certain social and cultural realities...' Strike that. 'Let's stay with 'complexities,' 'vast complexities.' Don't know what the hell it means but I like the sound of it. 'There are vast complexities that make it untenable for homosexuals to serve openly in the military.'"
Verdone nods, scribbles.
"Gimme a couple more 'graphs," says McC. "Something about the hordes of military men who agree with my position. Throw in something about the timing...couldn't be worse, what with two wars, terrorists at 30K feet, explosives in their skivvies, etcetera, etcetera. Oh, and drive home the authority of Congress to make law. We'll put this so-called Commander-in-Chief in his place. Homosexuals, indeed."
Verdone stands. "Will do, John. Before I leave, one more shot?"
"This isn't only about DADT. It's about the larger issue. You used to be seen as a maverick. Bipartisan, principled..."
McCain explodes. "Listen, I've never flip-flopped in my life. Every decision I've made has been about the good of my state, the good of my country. Take my V.P. selection..."
"You really want to go there?"
"Look. Sarah may not know the first thing, or anything, about American history. Or geography. Or political science. Or economics. Or foreign affairs. Or... Well, you get the point. But, like me, she speaks her mind, and never changes it. Can you picture it? The two of us on the stump, just like old times."
"Just like old times."