Slate on McCain: "The Bush Hugger"

John Dickerson at Slate has an interesting read on the ability of John McCain to snuggle up to President Bush seemingly without hurting his own political prospects. The piece is a bit fawning for my taste, but that's what we've come to express from the establishment media when it comes to coverage of McCain. Dickerson does do a decent job of giving the time line of McCain's emergence as one of Bush's closest allies.McCain's rapprochement with Bush got going in 2004, when the senator campaigned with Bush to help him win back moderate Republicans disenchanted over the war in Iraq. In a gesture seen by millions of viewers, he sat with Bush's family during one of the presidential debates. Afterward, McCain criticized John Kerry's views on national security, despite his friendship with the Democratic nominee. When rumors surfaced during the race that McCain might replace Dick Cheney, McCain campaigned with the vice president to stop the whispers. "He was there whenever we needed him," said a Bush staff member days before the election. Recently, when Cheney refuted charges that the president manipulated prewar intelligence, he quoted the senator: "As John McCain says, it is a lie to say that the president lied."

This support for Bush is yielding support for McCain in turn. Just three weeks ago, McCain's political action committee took in $1 million in just one week. Many of the professional Republicans who helped to kill his candidacy when he ran against Bush in 2000 now write him $5,000 checks—the full amount allowed by law.

This is essentially what it should come down to for anyone who buys into the myth that John McCain is a moderate. Forget Dickerson's baseless claims that McCain is "winking" as he embraces Bush. Just listen to what the Bush administration says about the so-called maverick. "He was there whenever we needed him." And yet somehow McCain is going to sell himself as an independent in 2008? Ridiculous.

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



not ridiculous at all
the MSM decided on their narrative for McCain years ago--and it's the narrative of McCain the maverick.  the MSM will be more than happy to repeat "independent" and "maverick" with every single McCain story in 07 and 08.  breaking the truth through MSM conventional wisdom is near-impossible.  as has been noted elsewhere, Chris Matthews and others still cling to the idea that "everybody" just finds Bush to be a likeable guy--even with approval ratings in the mid-30's.
by benchcoat 2005-11-29 08:41PM | 0 recs
You're Assuming Anyone Will Still Believe Them...
in 07 and 08.

Hell, you're assuming anyone will still be listening to them in 07 and 08.  

It's not just Judy Miller and Bob Woodward.  The whole MSM owns this war. They go down as it goes down.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-29 09:25PM | 0 recs
Arizona hasthe most REGRESSIVE taxes in the nation
according to

That might tell us something about John Mc Cain and his long term goals.

by ultraworld 2005-11-30 04:54AM | 0 recs
He didn't even use the best picture">
by Bodot 2005-11-29 08:46PM | 0 recs
Re: He didn't even use the best picture
That's perfect! Plaster that picture all over campaign posters and then see McCain try to campaign against Bush's economic and corporate welfare policies.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-30 01:00AM | 0 recs
Re: He didn't even use the best picture
News Flash!  He is a Republican memeber of the Senate, not a Democrat.  If he wants his bills passed, he needs the support of his party.  He has pissed off the WH more times then he has supported it.  If he is so bad then why did Kerry officals meet with him in '04?  I love this man and more Senators should practice his style of politics.
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 05:29AM | 0 recs
Breaking news!
This just in:

McCain is evil

McCain is racist

McCain is as phony as a $3 bill

by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-30 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Breaking news!
Why is he evil?  And how is he racist?  Or are you a person that thinks every Republican is evil and racist? McCain is one of the best things to happen to the Senate and this country.  He is an American Hero!!!!
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 07:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Breaking news!
by rollasallerang8 2005-12-03 06:40PM | 0 recs
There's A Nice Passage On This in *Off Center*
Not about McCain, per se, but about "independent" Republicans in the new book, Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy.  The book does a great job of explaining the underlying power structures that virtually guarantee that it's a game from start to finish--except on issues that really don't matter.  

In fact, it's such a lock, that when something like Social Security privatization comes along that's really, really, really unpopular, the GOP powerbrokers just naturally assume it's another performance, and all those mavericks will come back home once they've demonstrated their independence.

We need to start indentifying this behaviour loudly and insistently, wherever it appears in the GOP, call it pseudo-independence, or something similar and underscore how lame, duplicitous and lacking in integrity it is.  At the same time, we need to stress over and over and over again that McCain is the poster child for it.  Or, rather, the mother of all poster children for it, since Guiliani, Girlie Man, and a couple others we could easily name are all trying to play the exact same game.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-29 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: There's A Nice Passage On This in *Off Center*
Thanks a lot Paul. Like I don't already have enough books on my "to do" list.

Here's a list of upcoming events for Off Center from your link:


The authors will be on Fresh Air with Terri Gross on December 1

They will be featured on TPMCafe's Book Club on the week of December 5.

And stay tuned for an event at Demos in New York City on December 13, 2005.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-30 01:03AM | 0 recs
Re: There's A Nice Passage On This in *Off Center*
Herman Cain (formerly CEO of Godfathers pizza, GOP candidate for Senate 2004) wrote a book about the indies as well. The self identified independents are hugely important to whatever we're doing here.

Current republican direction has little to do with conservative thought, alot to do with incompetence. The Savage nation was talking about it.

A new party would do the trick, a new movement for the 21st century.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-11-30 04:06AM | 0 recs
I Got To Interview Paul Pierson Today
Pierson is one of the book's co-authors. I'm working on a piece for Random Lengths News on the Abramoff scandals using some of the insights from Off Center as a frame.
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-30 05:23PM | 0 recs
It's time to face facts
If the wingnuts who control the nominating process in the Repub party choose to "forgive" McCain for running against dear leader in 2000, he's probably a shoo-in because he'll peel of enough indies and Dems who mistakenly think he's moderate to make it a rout.
by howie14 2005-11-30 02:16AM | 0 recs
Re: It's time to face facts
you're right about that. The GOP is a total hierarchy - it doesn't even come close to being a democratic process. Right now the kings and princes of the party are deciding who will run.

The decision is already made, as you can gather. McCain will run in 2008. And right now, he will win.   The best response by the democrats is to embrace radical reform - IRV, daring candidates, faith (personally but not for the state), deal with the war and get it on the right track - (whether winning it or shutting down the insurgency by pulling out), whatever. The dems are just standing there hoping that the GOP will keep making mistakes, just like an amateur chess player pulls out his queen and moves it all around the board hoping something somewhere will appear that he can sail across the board and knock off. Playing for the other persons mistake is a bad strategy, it draws out the game.

I really want to see the democrats start lining up pawns instead of these rook and night type attacks - lock down the center. Control the center.. and you control..

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-11-30 04:10AM | 0 recs
Don't forget the curse of the Senate
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't McCain is a Senator?

Why on earth do people keep pretending that McCain is immune from The Curse Of The Senate? If anything, McCain is more vulnerable than Kerry or Hillary on his voting record.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-30 07:16AM | 0 recs
McCain's Problems
I posted a diary yesterday that went into some detail about McCain's "Iraq" problem as it relates to his trying to cozy up to Bush.  The gist of it was that Bush is expected to announce today a plan to start withdrawing troops from Iraq next year.  Yet, McCain is on record as advocating more troops.  This puts McCain in a tough political position-attack Bush from the right (angering him and his legion of ditto-heads) or be a hypocrite and advocate withdrawing troops even though he (mistakenly) believes it is bad for our national interest.  For reasons I go into in the diary, I think he will chose the first option.
by Andy Katz 2005-11-30 03:10AM | 0 recs
Here's my prediction:   sometime next year, probably in April, VP Cheney will have a Soviet-style heart attack, not fatal, but serious enough to require a resignation.  The Resident will nominate, and the Senate will confirm, Sen. McCain as the new VP.  Sometime after the 2006 elections, especially if the Dems gain control of a chamber, President Bush will resign, allowing McCain to serve as President for the balance of the Bush term, and then be elected twice, in '08 and '12.


by billcoop4 2005-11-30 03:11AM | 0 recs
Bush will never resign
That would be admitting failure and he never admits failure.

McCain as VP hence the annointed candidate makes a lot of sense though.

Who are they going to run if not McCain? Frist? Condi? DeLay?

by antiHyde 2005-11-30 04:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush will never resign
Bush/Rove are positioning McCain to be the GOP nominee in '08.  While their differences and animosity are pretty big...I believe that Bush/Rove feel McCain is the only Republican who can win in '08, and better a Republican (even McCain) gets elected than a Democrat (especially Hillary).  Remember, Mark McKinnon, Bush's PR man out of Texas the last two campaigns and for Governor before that, has hooked up with McCain's "Straight Talk" group and has made it clear that should McCain run, he's going to be working on the Senator's behalf.  McKinnon could not make this move without Rove's say so...In addition, Bush barely makes a speech without mentioning McCain in a strong light...Bush is constantly trying to make sure the public believes his administration has the backing of the senior Senator from Arizona.  Rove will keep the Religious Right at bay in '08 and make sure they don't get in McCain's way, as he and the President know McCain is the GOP's only hope of keeping the WH.  Who else is there?  John McCain is the most popular politician in America across the board.  Who else does the GOP have?  Mitt Romney?  He'll be lucky to get reelected Gov of MA, plus he's a Mormon and that won't fly nationwide.  Rudy?  Yesterday's news, too much baggage relative to his personal life.  George Allen?  His dead dad is more popular in Virginia than he is.  Brownback?  Looks like a televangelist with a bad haircut.  Santorum?  Makes Reagan look like a Communist.  Frist?  Outside of Mercy Hospital in Nashville no one knows him.  Gingrich?  Too controversial.  Condi?  Countries not ready for that.  Hagel?  I'd go for him, but not well known enough and it's too late in the game for him to get his name out there, plus he's basically a younger McCain.  There aren't any Republican Governors of note, perhaps Owens of Colorado but too conservative for the current electorate and Jeb can't run this soon after his brother.  Rove/Bush realize all of this and that's why they got McKinnon on board with McCain and will be supporting him behind closed doors.
As for McCain essentially "embracing" the President since 2000...simple.  He's his President!!!!  There are still people around who hold that title dear to their hearts, regardless of how much Bill Clinton tried his best to soil it.
by rollasallerang8 2005-12-03 06:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Bush will never resign
I rather think that Bush has done more to soil the Presidency than Bill Clinton ever did.
by antiHyde 2005-12-05 04:17AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain
We need McCain as VP because someone in the White House needs to know what they are doing.  If you ask me, the WH can't make McCain VP fast enough.
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 05:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Blood Thirsty Beast McCain
Right. An even bigger warmonger than Blood Thirsty Beast Cheney. Exactly what the country is calling for.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-30 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain
Maybe the first part. Definitely not the second.
by LiberalFromPA 2005-11-30 05:46AM | 0 recs
The politics of personal attack
The politics of personal attack were started by Newt Gingrich; it sells advertising. It makes a lot of heat, a lot of noise.

The republicans hope for polarizing events. Meanwhile, in Israel, the people are moving rapidly to forsake both the likud and labour parties and to create a new party from the center.

McCain would be one of my top picks for that new party.  Nobody wants hard left. Nobody wants hard right. The rise of the center is threatening to some people. To me, I just hope it all turns out like Israel. There is a revolution going on over there, that really will serve the Israelis well. Enough of the IDF slamming into peoples houses, or kibbutzim. We will have a stable, workable Israeli government that will get down to the brass tacks of doing what Israel needs to grow.

BTW If McCain somehow makes it to the presidency,  before 2008 I will be the first in line to cheer an environmentalist in the white house.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-11-30 04:03AM | 0 recs
Re: The politics of personal attack
Correction: Typo - "McCain would be one of my top picks for that party (should the same thing occur here)"
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-11-30 04:04AM | 0 recs
The Center
The rise of the center would certainly be a great thing, but if you're looking for McCain to lead it, you're barking up the wrong tree.

The guy is a bona fide conservative -- he considers Reagan the greatest president in modern times. Take a look at his voting record. Sure he may come out vocally on the side of "moderation" on certain issues (ANWR, torture), but on most issues, particularly those most important to progressives, McCain is a solid conservative.

Don't buy the media hype that he's a moderate. He never was. And whatever independence he had he forsook in order to appease the conservatives in his party.

Is McCain better than Bush or Brownback or Allen? Sure. Is he better than anyone the Democrats might nominate? No way.

by LiberalFromPA 2005-11-30 05:46AM | 0 recs
McCain is the best member of the Senate
Everyone on this page needs to get over himself or herself.  Whether or not you agree with his politics, he makes his decisions from the heart instead of listening to party labels.  Without McCain and Republican moderates like him there would be drilling in the ANWR or campaign finance reform.  Unless the Democrats can get their act together and stop nominating people like Mondale, Dukakis, and Kerry, this is one Moderate Democrat that will crossover and vote for McCain.  And there will be more like me in '08.
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain is the best member of the Senate
Would Wesley Clark do the trick?
by paul minot 2005-11-30 05:41AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain is the best member of the Senate
I supported Wes Clark in '04.  A Clark/Brown or a Clark/Hackett ticket would beath any McCain ticket.
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 05:46AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain is the best member of the Senate
Glad you agree.  

I am not so moderate that I would support McCain over a Democrat--he has sold out too much for me, and has too many conservative views on abortion, gay rights, etc.  But I do understand the desire for somebody that seems to embody personal integrity over political savvy.  Clark is my man as well.

by paul minot 2005-11-30 05:51AM | 0 recs
Is that you Whitman?
Just as I suspected. You have just been pretending to be a Democrat. Are you a Bush Hugger too?
by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-30 07:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Is that you Whitman?
Just because someone crosses party lines, doesn't make them a Bush supporter. Get off your high horse for once. Democrats need to stop nominating poor candidates or more Democrats and Ind. will vote for a McCain ticket
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Is that you Whitman?
And no this is not Whitman or whoever he is.  I am just a person that like politicians put aside party labels and votes what is in their heart.  McCain is conservative, so what?  I like him the same way I liked Sen. Wellstone.  There are very few people in Washington like these two men.
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain is the best member of the Senate
You're welcome to vote for McCain if that's your choice.  As a liberal Democrat, I would probably vote for McCain over a moderate Democrat.  Not because I think McCain is less conservative then someone like Clinton or Bayh, but because I think only very progressive solutions will solve the growing economic problems associated with globalization.  Neither McCain nor a moderate Dem will offer the right policies to meet these problems.  Neither a moderate Dem nor a Republican are going to be successful if elected in 08.  Therefore, it is far better for the country, the Democratic Party and the progressive movement to have '08 go to a Republican rather then a moderate Democrat elected in 2008 so the blame falls on Republicans, opening the way for a progressive in 2012 and blame not fall on a Democrat, opening the way for a conservative Republican in 2012.
by Andy Katz 2005-11-30 07:21AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain is the best member of the Senate
McCain is not a moderate!!!!!  People need to look past the grandstanding maverick junk and look at his actual positions on most issues.

Had he won in 2000 instead of Bush, HE would have been the most conservative President ever elected.

The straight talk BS is a creation of the SCLM and shouldn't be bought hook, line, and sinker.

by howie14 2005-11-30 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain is the best member of the Senate
What evidence do you have to back up your claim?  He doesn't support drilling in ANWR, or torture, and has sided with the Democrats on stem cell research.  Sounds more conservative then Bush to me alright.
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain is the best member of the Senate
You have, of course, centered on just the things his campaign-and it is a campaign-want you to.  The things that make him such a "maverick".  His advisors just chuckle and tell you "Don't look at his record, look at the man."

Read the voting record and his ratings in the Senate.  He scored 100 percent rating from the Eagle Forum in 2004 and has supported school vouchers, Star Wars, and Social Security privitization (thanks, to TPM cafe for those).

He has made noises supporting intelligent design, voted for every single item in the Contract with America, and has been against equal rights for gays and lesbians.  He's opposed increases in the minimum wage.  

Additionally, vote for him and watch the right wing judges he promotes.  Stevens isn't going to live forever, we need a Dem in there just for that reason alone!

Finally, it was cravenly political of him to start hugging Bush after the trash Bush and Rove threw at him in SC in 2000.  A real straight shooter would have called on Bush to stop hiding behind his surrogates right then and would never declared his love for Dubya later.  

by howie14 2005-11-30 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain is the best member of the Senate
I will vote for any Democrat but we better not nominate a weak one again.  Kerry was the wrong choice, and if someone like him is nominated again, we will see another four years of a Republican White House.  I would rather see a McCain White House then any other.
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 04:10PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain is the best member of the Senate
So far in the 109th Congress, McCain is the third most conservative senator overall:

In the 108th Congress, he was the fourth most conservative senator overall:

That proof enough for you?

by Geotpf 2005-11-30 12:14PM | 0 recs
My Problem with McCain is that he gets way too much fanfare. All we hear is how he is a "maverick" or an independant, but he is really not as we have seen. Hes a poltician above all. But BFD thats the way these things work!
by FreeSpoke 2005-11-30 05:43AM | 0 recs
Screw McCain
Start digging up the photos on Rudy (and whatever else you can find).  McCain will be 72 in '08.  Rudy is the guy to worry about.
by dpANDREWS 2005-11-30 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Screw McCain
The Christian Right will do that job for us. "America's Mayor" would never get elected anywhere else in the United States. And based on his tenure as Mayor, he would have been completely forgotten were it not for 9/11. He got results, but his combativeness was not the "fiercely independent" brand that wins elections.
by Scott Shields 2005-11-30 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Screw McCain
The Religious Right has a strangle hold on the Republican party.  Rudy is Pro-choice, Pro-guy rights, and lived with two gay friends.  He wouldn't get past NH. Love is politics and all that he has done, but to win in the Republican party in this day and age would require a Hagel or a Jeb Bush.  McCain has a better chance but not by much. I love the man, and wish he was a Democrat because we need people like Rudy in the Party.
by Ohio15 2005-11-30 06:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Screw McCain
You don't happen to know anyone who lived in New York under Giuliani, do you? Even though his policies may be more progressive than the average Republican's, Rudy Giuliani is a bitter, spiteful man who rubbed just about the whole city the wrong way by the end of his tenure. Besides that, how could you ever forgive him for the bile he spewed attacking Democrats during the 2004 election?
by Scott Shields 2005-11-30 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Screw McCain
So who's your third favorite Republican after McCain and Rudy The Adulterous  Womanizer?
by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-30 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Screw McCain
My guess is that his third "favorite" Republican is Ronald Reagan, but Im not sure what order he would place them.
by Andy Katz 2005-11-30 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Screw McCain
Im not sure what you mean by "we need people like him in the party."  His main political weapon in NYC was to essentially "race bait" the working class white voters.  Just because RG was "gay friendly" does not mean he is a good guy.  Heck Roy Cohn was probably gay and he was one of the more evil American public figures of the last century.
by Andy Katz 2005-11-30 07:27AM | 0 recs
Rudy is a whore
A dangerous, popular whore.

And don;t underestimate the rightwing of the republican party.   They will look at the numbers of guys like Frist, Brownback, Allen, Sanorum, wingnut of your choice, anfd Rudy will throw them a bone or tow, and next thing you know the mainstream media will declare Rudy President right around July '08.

by dpANDREWS 2005-12-02 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Screw McCain
Speaking of photos, I think one photo of Guliani in a dress should just about eliminate his chances among the taliban (aka "mainstream" Republicans).
by Andy Katz 2005-11-30 07:23AM | 0 recs
The Bush-McCain Team
I can see the ads already...grainy slow-motion footage of them embracing, Bush cutting that cake during Katrina, etc. It'll be beautiful. Bring it on!
by vawolf 2005-11-30 06:46AM | 0 recs
Good luck convincing indies this
They worship the man.  Nobody notices most of the time he sucks up to Bush or votes in a very conservative manner, except Bush loyalists and the few times where there's a good photo (the hug above).  But people notice when he goes against his party of the gay marriage constitutional amendment, or the anti-torture rider he's threatening to attach to every bill in the Senate.

Sorry to rain on everybody's parade, but his "maverick" image is etched in stone from the general public's perspective.  Which means if he wins the Rep nom, we lose all the indies (indies love McCain).  If we lose the indies, we lose the election.

by Geotpf 2005-11-30 12:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Good luck convincing indies this
We have to hope that the wingnuts hate McCain more than they love winning.
by howie14 2005-12-01 04:02AM | 0 recs
by Geotpf 2005-12-01 02:34PM | 0 recs


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