by Alex Miller-Mignone
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is arguably the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. With more than 20 years experience in the US Senate, a prior presidential bid in 2000, and established links with the GOP hierarchy, McCain should be difficult to defeat in the primaries. But the Senator, despite his backstory as an honored Vietnam veteran and POW, and a reputation for being honest and straightforward, is also prickly and contentious, and his unwavering support for the Iraq War has weakened his image in the eyes of many voters, even in the GOP.
Born 29 August 1936, at the Coco Solo Air Base in Panama, should he gain the White House, McCain will have the unique distinction of being the first president not born on US soil and the oldest at his inauguration (McCain will be 72 in January 2009, surpassing Reagans previous record age of 69). John Sidney McCain III is the son and grandson of Navy admirals, twice married, and the biological father of four children (he also adopted his first wifes two children, and a daughter from Bangladesh).
Educated at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA (graduated 1954) and Annapolis Naval Academy (graduated 1958), McCain followed the family military tradition and became a naval aviator (his father was Commander in Chief of American forces in Vietnam, and his grandfather was in charge of naval air forces at the Battle of Okinawa in World War II). In 1965 he married Philadelphia-born model Carol Shepp; the couple divorced in 1980 and McCain married his current wife, Cindy Hensley, a month later.
In July 1967 a friendly fire mishap on the USS Forrestal off the Vietnamese coast almost cost McCain his life, when a misfired rocket hit his plane as he was preparing for takeoff. In the explosion, McCain was hit with shrapnel in the chest and legs, and the fire which followed killed more than 130 crewmen, destroyed 20 aircraft, and nearly sank the ship. Three months later, in October, McCains plane was shot down over Vietnam; he parachuted out, but broke both arms and a leg in his landing, and was set upon by a mob who kicked and stripped him, then was further beaten by Vietnamese soldiers, who crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt. Taken to the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison, McCain was interrogated daily, and beaten regularly when he refused to give his captors information. When his identity was revealed, McCain was offered release due to his fathers high command position, but he chose to stay with his comrades.
McCain endured beatings for nearly five and a half years which often rendered him unconscious, until his release in 1973. When he returned home, he was so badly injured he was unable to raise his arms above his head. He was reinstated to flight status, receiving the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Order of Merit, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was made the Navys Senate liaison in 1976, and retired from the military as a captain in 1981.
In 1982 he was elected a US Representative from the State of Arizona, where his second wifes business interests had taken them, and in 1986 replaced retiring Barry Goldwater in the US Senate. His reputation as a maverick is not wholly legitimate. On most issues he hews to the Party line, but he does stray on some points. McCain voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, on the grounds that these matters should be regulated by the states, but supported Arizona legislators failed attempt to ban gay marriage in 2006. He is pro-life, and supports an amendment which would define the term person to include the unborn from the moment of conception. He has also expressed support for the teaching of intelligent design in schools.
McCains chief diifference from traditional GOP politics is in the area of global warming and environmental concerns. He opposes drilling in the ANWR, but also opposes ethanol subsidies. He was one of the Gang of 14, Senators from both parties who forged a compromise over the 2005 crisis regarding the use of filibuster to block the nomination of judges. By its terms, Democratic members agreed not to support the use of the filibuster except under extreme circumstances, and Republican members agreed not to support the majoritys attempt to repeal the right of filibuster in judicial cases.
An inveterate hawk, McCain is also a strong supporter of Israel and the Iraq War, but disagrees with the administration on the subject of torture, a subject about which he is understandably sensitive. McCain opposed the administrations policies of detention, rendition and torture, authoring the McCain Detainee Amendment to the 2005 Defense Appropriations Bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 90-9. The amendment forces the government to adhere to international standards of detention and torture, regardless of whether the detainees are uniformed soldiers, enemy combatants, or civilians. Bush signed the legislation, but also issued a Signing Statement to the effect that he had the power to abrogate it as he saw fit, for purposes of national security.
In 2000, McCain mounted an unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination, touring the country in his Straight Talk Express bus. He became the darling of the press, famously remaining after his short stump speeches in small communities in New Hampshire until he had answered every question from his audience. Some credit McCain with the invention of retail politics, the use of close, one-on-one contact with voters to promote a candidacy. His surprise upset of establishment candidate George W. Bush in New Hampshires primary (by 49%-30%) propelled him into national stardom, but also elicited a vicious Bush machine backlash in the next, crucial primary in South Carolina.
Bushs chief campaign advisor, Karl Rove, used push polling in South Carolina to smear McCains reputation. GOP operatives, posing as pollsters calling to gauge public opinion, averred that McCain had cooperated with his captors in Vietnam to receive special treatment, that his wife was insane, and that he had fathered an illegitimate black child (he and his wife had adopted a dark-skinned daughter from Bangladesh, whose appearance lent credence to the allegations). These lies, and the lock the Bush camp has on evangelical voters, gave Bush the victory in South Carolina. McCains campaign never recovered.
McCain reacted bitterly, in Virginia denouncing televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (whom he termed an agent of intolerance), thereby creating a breach with the religious right which McCain has recently worked to heal, but which still threatens his chances in the 2008 primaries. Despite further wins in liberal Michigan and his home state of Arizona, McCains candidacy was doomed. The loss of 9 out of 13 Super Tuesday primaries that spring sealed its fate.
Despite the personal acrimony created by Bushs negative campaigning, McCain hewed to the administration line and gave his full support to Bushs re-election efforts in 2004, possibly in an effort to ingratiate himself with the Party leadership. But his embrace of Bush personally after the trashing he took in 2000, his unwavering support for the Iraq War and attempts at rapprochement with the evangelical community (he gave the commencement address at Falwells Liberty University in May 2006) have tarnished his image with independents and call into question his reputation as a straight-shooter. McCain is now seen by many as yet another career politician who will say or do anything necessary to achieve his personal goals.
McCains nativity (born 29 August 1936) is a complex one, full of the tension of squares and oppositions. While this conflict has spurred him to succeed and given him an inner strength to endure captivity and torture, it has also left him with a short fuse and an irritable nature. McCain does not suffer fools gladly, and it shows; he can be fractious and resentful, which makes his embrace of former rival Bush all the more suspect in its motives.
The chart is dominated by a Grand Cross of Saturn retrograde at 20 Pisces, Jupiter at 15 Sagittarius, Chiron at 22 Gemini, and Venus at 22 Virgo. Further, Mercury at 2 Libra forms a T-Square with the Nodal Axis at 1 Capricorn and Cancer, and there is a very potent Moon/Pluto opposition from 27 Capricorn to 28 Cancer. All these patterns include dynamic galactic influences as well.
Most striking is McCains exact conjunction of Chiron with the Quasar at 22 Gemini, elevated in the Ninth House, and which also opposes the Galactic Center. Quasars promote success, achievement, and a high degree of visibility; like a beacon set upon a hilltop, they cannot be ignored or disguised, and the Galactic Center contact grants a global stage for his actions. Two of Chirons basic keywords are wounding and maverick, and it is no coincidence with this placement that McCains public image was built initially upon the severe physical mistreatment and torture which he endured in Vietnam, and that, all evidence to the contrary, he is known first and foremost as a maverick, his own man, who takes no crap and does no mans bidding. This Chiron also conjoins the nations Mars at 21 Gemini, and McCain received his wounds in wartime as a soldier in the service of his country.
The Venus/Saturn opposition within this pattern, squared by two Black Holes at 17 and 18 Sagittarius (which also conjoin his Jupiter), has much to say about McCains reputation as a principled, ethical man of values. It also has a tale to tell about his involvement with the Savings and Loan collapse and his membership in the infamous Keating Five, a financial scandal from the late 80's which is now largely forgotten, and which has never tarnished McCains image with the public. The Arizona Senator was one of five who met with Federal regulators in an attempt to prevent action being taken against Charles Keating, a corrupt financier at the center of the controversy who had contributed more than $100,000 to McCains campaigns (a paltry sum, to be sure, by todays standards of graft, but a considerable one at the time) and in whose companies McCains wifes family were heavily invested. McCain was admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee, but no further action was taken. Venus also exactly conjoins the nations natal Neptune at 22 Virgo; his famous espousal of campaign finance reform probably stems from this linkage, but the combination also suggests that there may be irregularities in his own accounting.
The T-Square involving Mercury and the Nodes shows Mercury conjoined the supermassive Black Hole center of Galaxy M-87 at 1 Libra, the largest anomaly of its type of which we are aware. Mercury combined with a Black Hole can produce a powerful communicator, but the phrase Straight Talk is not one commonly associated with the pairing of these energies. McCains Sun at 6 Virgo is also exactly conjoined a Black Hole and opposes a Quasar at 5 Pisces, another indicator that his public persona is a carefully crafted one, and not necessarily emblematic of his true nature. He can be magnetic due to the Black Holes supergravity, which easily attracts support and others energies, and his success is assured due to the action of the Quasar, but the flip side of these contacts is an inherent danger of implosion, or of having his true self revealed.
Probably the most dramatic of McCains aspects is the Moon/Pluto opposition, which falls closely on the US own Mercury/Pluto opposition. At 27 Capricorn, his Moon exactly conjoins both the US Pluto and a Pulsar, a Deep Space anomaly which is informational in nature and indicates extensive media involvement. McCain is certainly the darling of the US media, which have played up his maverick status and built him into an exemplar of fair dealing. But this linkage with the nations power center, as represented by Pluto, indicates a very personal connection to that power which may have deep and intense underlying motivations.
Indeed, McCain is doubly linked with the nations Pluto, for his own opposes it, from its perch exactly atop the Black Hole at 28 Cancer. The opposition suggests that the expression of his own personal power and the right use of the nations resources may be at variance. His Plutos conjunction with the US natal Mercury at 24 Cancer is yet another indicator that there may be some linguistic subterfuge, deception or double-speak issuing from this supposed straight-shooter.
McCains Uranus at 9 Taurus squares both a Black Hole at 9 Leo and his natal Mars at 12 Leo, which is itself conjoined a Maser at 13 Leo. This combination of Mars/Maser and Uranus in the tension of a square aspect is the source of the prickly, fractious side of his nature which McCain evinces on occasion. Not one to back off from a fight, he can come off as caustic and sarcastic, and takes offense easily. If there is a true Achilles heel in his candidacy, it is probably that Mars/Maserget in under his skin enough, and hell blow up like a powder keg with a match set to it.
Although he is the acknowledged front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination as of this writing, and he has taken pains of late to ingratiate himself with GOP power brokers inside the beltway and their evangelical base, McCains path to the White House is by no means a smooth one. Theres many a slip twixt the cup and the lip, and a year in politics can be a very long time indeed.
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at Alixilamirorim@aol.com.