'Reform Republicans' - The McCain Scam

Liberals love John McCain.  Whether it was the torture amendment or him as a dream VP, McCain has a romantic bipartisan sheen that attracts Democrats.  For instance, back in May, 66% of liberals had a favorable impression of McCain, which was at the time higher than Howard Dean.  Part of this is because McCain is not nearly as crazy as Bush, and part of it is bills like McCain-Feingold that showed a real commitment to reform of something, even if he isn't actually competent enough to pull it off.

But a great deal of it is that liberals lay off him, and often embrace him (read Newsweek's sickening account of the 2004 election campaign to see a simpering John Kerry begging John McCain to run with him).  'Moderate' Repulicans McCain and Giuliani were the only surrogates that Doug Forrester could bring into New Jersey towards the end of the Governor's race, and both cohered nicely with Doug Forrester's moderately extreme messaging.  All the other surrogates had been effectively trashed by their own allegiance to Bush, but not these two.

Liberals shouldn't fall for it.  John McCain is a corrupt Republican, just like Bush.  He doesn't play to the base, preferring instead a 'good government' bipartisan strategy, but he's corrupt, mean-spirited, and puts his ambition above everything else.  As Ian pointed out, McCain voted to strip habeas corpus rights in a messy vicious bill.  Ian goes on:

Can't torture them, but as long as DOD rules are followed we can lock 'em up forever with no civilian judicial review. And who determines DOD rules? Rumsfeld.

Brilliant. Just Brilliant.

McCain is playing people. He voted for the most fundamental violation of rights possible. If you don't have habeas corpus, you have nothing. "We must not torture them once we throw them in our gulags." Anyone who takes him as a hero because he proposes an amendment that bans torture, while voting against habeas corpus for those prisoners at the same time, is simply a sucker who just got played.

Ian is right.  Liberals who like McCain are being played - go through his FEC reports and you'll find a very similar set of business interest donations to the standard Republican.  And lest we forget, John McCain has a sordid history of corruption for business interests.

McCain was one of five senators who met with regulators in 1987 and encouraged them to ease up on Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was under scrutiny for risky investment practices. The government ended up bailing out the S&L's federally insured depositors two years later at a cost to taxpayers of $3.4 billion, and Keating served several years in prison for fraud, although his conviction was later reversed because of juror misconduct.

Between 1982 and 1987, Keating had steered $1.4 million in campaign contributions and gifts to the five senators. McCain had received $112,000 of that, along with nine trips on Keating's jets to the Bahamas and elsewhere.

Although the bank regulators later said they felt pressured by the Keating Five's intervention, the senators insisted they were not trying to exert inappropriate influence. McCain even said as much during one of the two meetings. "I would not want any special favors for them," he said, according to notes taken by one regulator. "I do not want any part of our conversation to be improper."

But when the meetings were publicly exposed, leading to 23 days of congressional hearings, McCain had an epiphany. "The thing I learned was that it's not only impropriety that counts," he said during his 2000 presidential campaign. "It's the appearance that's just as important."

Whether McCain really learned that lesson is debatable. As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, he received hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies affected by the committee's work, and he has repeatedly been criticized for intervening with regulators on behalf of businesses whose employees gave him money, including Paxson Communications and AT&T.

But the alleged business corruption is really not the issue - the issue is his hypocrisy.  Let's go back to torture - everyone knew torture was happening during the 2004 election campaign, yet John McCain hugged Bush and supported him anyway.  

The next President will be the person who can effectively call himself or herself a government reformer, who will save the country from insider DC Bush politicians.  Republicans know this, which is why the idea that there's some war inside the party instead of a subtle rebranding strikes me as a bit naive.  Witness the 'Bush is a liberal' idea that's floating among right-wingers.

So liberals need to ask ourselves a question every time we fete McCain or lay off the punches.  Do we want John McCain to be the next President, and have four more years of debt, incompetence, and war?

Tags: 2008, General 2008, John McCain (all tags)



no, McCain is one of the people involved in the solution. A strongly partisan attack is the problem.

Remember, Bush is not being defeated by liberals. He's being defeated by Americans. And he will not be impeached by liberals. He will be impeached by Americans.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-11-19 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Disagree
Well then sign up for McCain '08 and four more years of a Republican majority in the House and Senate.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-19 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Disagree
I disagree. The fact that he is right on 1 issue (torture) doesn't excuse his other positions or the fact that he 'blessed" and embraced the torturers  in the 1st place.
by molly bloom 2005-11-20 07:49AM | 0 recs
McCain Supported Gonzales
Let's not forget that McCain supported Alberto Gonzales, whose legalistic gymnastics in favor of torture should have ruled him out immediately as head of the Justice Department.  McCain's amendment notwithstanding, you can't be against torture while simultaneously supporting -- for the JUSTICE department, for God's sake -- someone who bends over backwards to justify torture.
by rlsumi 2005-11-19 08:16AM | 0 recs
About time someone hit Mcain.
by Democraticavenger 2005-11-19 08:16AM | 0 recs
Senator McCain Is Evil
That was my opinion back in March and it is my opinion today.

As a follow up to a comment I made that conservatism is dead and principled conservative is an oxymoron, I made the observation at Obsidian Wings the other day that Sen. Specter may be the only principled Senator in the entire Republican Party.

Forked Tongue McCain is not principled. Forked Tongue McCain is a despicable reactionary political hack.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-19 08:21AM | 0 recs
The solution for McCain
Is to smear him for pandering to Bush in two elections.

If our candidate is running against him in 2008, we need to run non-stop footage of McCain sitting in Bush';s lap.

Then we run the stories about what Rove did to him in South Carolina (the negro bastard child whisper campaign).

And you slug the whole commercial:


by jcjcjc 2005-11-19 08:22AM | 0 recs
The idea of this post strikes me as absurd
This seems to be a post about the presidency of 2008. While its fairly obvious that McCain is going to run, and that he will take the nomination of the republican party to run - its not obvious that being opposed to what he stands for is something America needs.

Dean did what McCain did in 2000, he stood up for Americans. McCain-Feingold attempted to reform a badly damaged system which Rove still uses to his advantage.  Democrats and republicans voted against the McCain - Feingold Campaign finance reform, but it finally passed because McCain is capable of bringing people together for a cause that works.

The above post speaks of McCain as if he's a hypocrite - the Army manual lays down clear rules as to how to treat prisoners, rules that were suspended by Rumsfeld and Bush. Rules that can be re-instated, and if broken, will have serious consequences.

Bush opposes McCain and his new rules, and is promising a first-ever veto of an entire bill if the amendment is there. McCain stood up against torture, therefore he is standing up for America.

Who you vote for in 2008 is not important. Whats important is to understand how these mammoth bills keep getting made: someone, somewhere wants you to stop asking what you believe, and just go along with a ploy.

In the case of this post, even if I am a democrat, I reserve the right to thank McCain for intelligence and campaign finance reform, and to see him as a good guy. I could care less if he's travelling around with Bush in 2004 - I remember he didn't do that until the very last six months of the campaign and when the GOP wants to nominate one of their own, we all know that they're a hierarchy - he wants to run for president.

Old wounds wont go away easily. No-one in the McCain camp will forget what Karl Rove did in SC in 2000. I believe strongly that the first order of business here is not to ignore the massive, hairy cockroach that is crawling towards your food called Karl Rove but instead remove him before you lose anything more. All of this "advance" by the party in this past year is worth nothing if, like things have been going, - Cheney replaces his lost Scooter with an even worse ideologue, there's a Michael Brownie leading the country Flu Response in the Dept. of Health and Human services (his name is simonsen) and a "Campaign-Style" attack is launched against venerable members of congress who, even if you disagree with them - are good americans. Men like Murtha.

Men, who, I have noticed, in this blog, barely got a mention when they spoke out against the war. But in the eyes of this commenter - they loom large in their individual stances against individual issues - and thats how I will still support candidates.

Please don't ask me to blindly follow some kind of party line when so many of the party are still tied up in a machine that "supported the presidents war"  - to quote Tom Daschle and have helped get us in this mess. McCain, to me, represents a group of people in America who want the republicans to open their eyes. If you want to make a very small tent out of your group of people - be it known that the best way is to take the poor, slimed out news-media-entertainment viewing types out there, and leave them in the cold to die. Its no different than sending them into a country to kill other people for no reason whatsoever.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-11-19 08:27AM | 0 recs
I tell you what's absurd
You are opposed to blindly following the Democrats because some have embraced Bush's war. You like McCain because he opposes torture, DESPITE the fact he has fully embraced Bush's war and wants to send more troops to Iraq.

McCain want's to open the Republicans' eyes to what? That torture is wrong? Jesus H. Christ, if they don't know that already...

Here try some perspective:

Some Democrats have fully embraced Bush's war, but otherwise have pretty good progressive or at least moderate to left views.

McCain has fully embraced Bush's war, extreme right wing views.

Get a clue.

by molly bloom 2005-11-20 07:56AM | 0 recs
Hotline on the results of a November poll:
Sen. John McCain is an enigma. Everyone seems to love him, but not everyone really knows him, and yet oddly okay with the mystery surrounding him. While 46% believe McCain is pro-life, a whopping 40% don't know what his stance is on the issue, or simply refused to answer. The same is true of his stance of free trade and, to a lesser extent, the environment, with Dems and indies being left to play a guessing game on his positions. At what point will voters start to realize they know more about the new Medicare Drug plan than they do about McCain? Is his charisma enough to distract Dems and Indies from the best kept secret outside of the Beltway?

McCain is better than most Republicans, but he's as much an opportunistic politician as anyone else. McCain's the media darling, and that helps him with voters of all stripes. When was the last time you've read or watched a piece on McCain or mentioning McCain that was negative or called McCain out on hypocrisy?
McCain's a show horse

If McCain runs in 2008, there are buttons to push. Let's see how much people love him, when that temper pops up.

by Newsie8200 2005-11-19 08:42AM | 0 recs
McCain and Lockheed
This year, for the first time, Lockheed Martin figures among McCain's top campaign contributors. Lockheed are now the biggest private contractor provider of interrogators to the US military. Is this a conflict of interest?

See my new (and first) diary post for details.

Regards, Cernig

by Cernig 2005-11-19 08:48AM | 0 recs
Same as the Old Boss
Matt, thanks for tying it all together here.  (And, thank you again for the links.  You are a generous blogger and it is a pleasure to write with you.)

I know that I don't want McCain, or any Republican, to be the next president.

And in McCain's case, yet another reason why, is that as soon as he started to gear up for an '08 bid, McCain jumped in bed with the religious right to schill for creationism. Plus, the new "presidential" McCain endorsed the Arizona gay marriage ban--after vocally opposing to the federal [anti-gay] marriage amendent.

McCain is playing the polls and pandering to the most right-wing elements of the Republican party.  It's clearly all about 2008 now with McCain.

The orchestrated "Kerry/McCain ticket" kafuffle had slipped my mind. Too many progressives took the bait that time as well. (How gullible are we?)

McCain's voted against habeus corpus. He's in bed with the religious right. Worst of all, he's supported, enabled, and literally embraced Bush--after Bush's repeated attacks on McCain, McCain's family, and American veterans; all the while he knew what Bush was doing to America.

McCain reminds me of Colin Powell now: a sorry, broken man who sold his soul to the Republican party and is selling out America in the process.

We've established that pointing this out to liberals is going to cause some flack. Tant pis.  I'm happy to play "bad liberal" on this one, because it's not a story we're going to see in the corporate media, and I am concerned with how many liberal bloggers seem to be falling for it.

by Shaula Evans 2005-11-19 10:40AM | 0 recs
Yep, you summed it up very well.

2008 is too late to begin to open people's eyes to the fact that yes, John McCain is a REPUBLICAN.

One can only hope that George Allen, Frist or Brownback gut him in the primaries.  If they have the balls or the cold heart for it, I am not sure.  But we all know Rudy will sink that low.  Here's hoping he goes 0-2 in three years.

by Sam Loomis 2005-11-19 11:05AM | 0 recs
Keating 5 Distortion
The diarist's account of the Keating 5 investigation resembles the "swift boating" distortions the so many have objected to when  Democrats are the target.  Most observers concede that McCain was held hostage by the Ethics Committee since he was the only Republican involved and Senate Democrats, then in the majority, didn't want to have an investigation that involved just Democrats. It was McCain's Democratic colleague, Dennis DeConcini, who overtly pressured the bank regulators, and Alan Cranston, D-Calif., John Glenn, D-Ohio & Don Riegle, D-Mich. were all involved even though, unlike McCain, Keating wasn't their constituent. While the Keating business wasn't McCain's finest hour, any account that suggests he was the most culpable is leaving a lot of things out.
by SLinVA 2005-11-19 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Keating 5 Distortion
So your arguement is what- he was only a little dirty?

Given that he continues to accpet money from those interests who have business before his committee, I don't think that the fact that he was younger and wet behind the ears is much of a defense.

by molly bloom 2005-11-20 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Keating 5 Distortion
Nice comments, Molly.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-20 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Keating 5 Distortion
thank you.
by molly bloom 2005-11-20 01:58PM | 0 recs
This is a very important diary.
Very important.
I have posted often about how Hillary isn't our real fear in 08, it's the glossy-eyed lust liberals have for John McCain.

But John McCain is a fucking Republican.
He votes like one.  He gives speeches like one.  He fundraises like one.  He treats democrats like one, whether or not they want to open their eyes and notice.

I stronly disloke John McCain, because he has the most Passive-Aggressive personality of any senator and I really hate that personality trait.

On Chris Matthew's show recently, pundits were stating how McCain met this month with leaders of the religious right, and some of the same people who were raising money to slime him in SC in 2000, were writing him million dollar checks after meeting with him.

Pantywaisted liberals need to wake up and smell the party affiliation of this man, before you find out it's a little too late.
Then again, maybe Maureen Down is right, and liberals truly have a death wish when they nominate presidential candidates and vote.

by Sam Loomis 2005-11-19 11:02AM | 0 recs
Liberals Don't Love John McCain
     The first sentence is just flat wrong. Liberals understand who John McCain is. It's the Beltway pundits who swoon over McCain.
     Not that it makes much difference, because the Republican Party will never nominate McCain. The primary electorate is too hard-core conservative, and the religious conservatives will unite around Allen or Brownback or Huckabee.
by Ron Thompson 2005-11-19 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Liberals Don't Love John McCain
Look at the polling - McCain gets substantial Democratic support.
by Matt Stoller 2005-11-19 11:22AM | 0 recs
A Welcome Beginning
But this obvious needs to be continued, expanded and very widely circulated.  Along with the picture of McCain with Bush and his birthday cake, while New Orleans was flooded in the aftermath of Katrina.  That one picture says it all about McCain, IMHO.

The same sort of thing happened with Colin Powell. I remember some very prominent LA liberals just swooning over him in the 1990s.  It was just sickening.  

The only thing that seems to register with these people is that Powell and McCain don't raise their voices.  They have good manners.  I mean, haven't these folks seen The Godfather?  Good grief!

The ignorance of McCain's actual politics is utterly appalling.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-19 11:55AM | 0 recs
Any defense of McCain
by liberals disappoints me.

I have no use for someone who voted to convict Clinton on both counts during impeachment.

And after he got personally trashed by Bush in 2000, he decided to become buddies with him.

If these are his "principles", well, I have no use for him, because these are not my principles.

If all of this is for political expediency, well, that isn't any better.

by v2aggie2 2005-11-19 12:07PM | 0 recs
Where McCain Really Stands--4th Most Conservative
Senator This Session

Professor Keith T. Poole is the go-to guy on the subject of statistically tracking the voting record of Congress.  When the GOP was trying to represent Kerry as an extreme liberal, those in the reality-based community--such FactCheck.org, turned to his data, cited in their entry, "How Liberal is John Kerry?", in which they wrote:

Political science professor Keith T. Poole analyzed 379 roll call votes from 2003 (essentially all votes except those that were unanimous or nearly so). Poole rated 21 senators more liberal, and had Kerry tied with six others for the next place. Based on that, Kerry tied for number 24-1/2.

Poole has been using his method for years. In an analysis of House and Senate voting from 1937-2002, Kerry ranked 478th most liberal out of 3,320 persons who have served in Congress during that time.

Poole concluded that Kerry is "a bit" more liberal than the typical Democratic House or Senate member over the past seven decades, but not an "extreme" liberal.

    Poole: Is Senator John Kerry a Liberal? Technically, Yes. Is he the most liberal member of the current or any Senate since the end of World War II? No. Is he an extreme Liberal. (sic) No. In fact he is a bit to the left of the mean of the Senate Democrats serving since 1937.

So, going to his wbsite, and checking out the votes for the 109th Senate (through August 15), we find McCain in 97th place on the liberalism index--i.e. 4th most conservative senator.  That makes him 14 places to the right of Trent Lott.

Conservative enough for you?

p.s. Boxer is the most liberal, followed by Corzine, Lautenberg, and Kennedy.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-19 12:24PM | 0 recs
GREAT Research!
That is very important, given his moderate image.

I heard him on NPR the other day talking about torture, and he affirmed his opposition to abortion.

I had not realized that he had voted to convict Clinton. I just did a quick google to see if he voted on Terri Schiavo.

I think if he gets the nod in 2008 from the republican party (and it will be really interesting to see what the far right does with him), he will be quite formidable. Can you imagine a McCain/Giuliani ticket? It would be similar to the CW in 2000 - many people thought Gore and Bush's policies would be very similar, very middle-of-the-road. Ha! People see both McCain and Giuliani as "benign" republicans - who they can feel good about cause they probably won't take too many civil liberties away.

We have to smash McCain's image in a huge way by pointing out his support for far right issues and his buddying up to Bush.

by daninvirginia 2005-11-19 12:43PM | 0 recs
Yup! Data Is Your Friend!
And, of course, his evil twin is Lore.

Is it any wonder that Lore says McCain is so benign?

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-19 01:03PM | 0 recs
McCain never talks about divisive social issues
Hence his centrist reputation, and the distrust of theocons.

The vast majority of the public could care less about tortute or habeas corpus in Guantanamo.

by Cyt 2005-11-19 12:47PM | 0 recs
McCain is:
anti-choice, a bigger neocon warmonger than Bush (he wants more troops), and viscerally anti-gay.  He has publically endorsed the proposed amendment to Arizona's state Constitution for the 2006 Arizona ballot that would ban not only gay marriage AND civil unions, but also any legal agreement entered into by gay people.  It's just as draconian of a measure as Ohio's was in 2004.

He's also mentally unfit to be president and does not have the temperment to be president.  Whilst working against the NAFTA Treaty in 1994 in Arizona, he told me to my face to, "watch my step."  This was after I had dared to argue with him about the effects of the treaty.  He was redfaced and flushed he was so angry.

John McCain is an asshole of the first magnitude.

by jgarcia 2005-11-19 04:45PM | 0 recs


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