More McCain Reality

Here's another one for all of the Democratic McCain lovers. To be blunt, if you think John McCain is some sort of independent maverick who would be much better for America than George W. Bush, you're sorely misinformed. Writing in the supposedly liberal New Republic, Byron York of the certainly conservative National Review details McCain's efforts to ingratiate himself with the Bush/Rove team over the last few years, especially during the 2004 election. (The article is unfortunately subscription only.)

McCain campaigned like a workhorse for Bush in 2004, making more appearances for (and with) the president than he made for himself in his own reelection campaign. "I spent a grand total of three days in Arizona between the first of September and November," McCain tells me. "I thought it was a lot more important for him to be reelected than for me to be reelected." (That kind of it's-not-about-me humility is easier when you win, as McCain did in Arizona, with 77 percent of the vote.) McCain points out that he also campaigned for Bush in 2000 but got little credit for it, because "people wouldn't accept the fact that I had gotten over any real or imagined problems with the South Carolina primary."

But, in 2004, Republicans took notice. "People who were for George Bush in the Bush-McCain fight appreciated McCain standing up for the president," says Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. "We knew he didn't have to do it, and that will be a tremendous asset for McCain in South Carolina." Dawson makes it clear that he hasn't chosen sides and that other candidates--Senators George Allen and Bill Frist, in particular--have accumulated some significant political IOUs in South Carolina. But McCain has, at the very least, earned the credibility to go back to the state, not as a loser, but as a major contender.

More than any other issue, the war is the reason why Republicans thank McCain for standing by Bush. As the level of public approval for the war goes down, and some Republicans worry that they have to accommodate Democratic calls for withdrawal, McCain's hawkishness looks better and better to those in the GOP--still a majority--who want to stay the course.

It's all right there. McCain is a Bush loyalist whose position on Iraq is 'stay the course.' Another issue York touches on in the article is one that I've heard Democrats give McCain credit for -- fiscal responsibility. To many, McCain's attacks on pork barrel spending are a nice change of pace from the profligate spending of the last few years of Republican leadership. But John McCain's definition of pork might be different from theirs. Sure, both sides may agree on the infamous Alaskan 'Bridge to Nowhere,' but I strongly doubt that many Democratic McCainiacs support the privatization of Social Security that McCain does.

Just two McCain quotes from the recent Ari Berman article in The Nation, "The Real McCain," says quite a bit about how far McCain is willing to go to solidify his support from the GOP extremes. He refers to campaigning for Bush in 2004 as "one of the proudest moments of my life." On Larry King's show on CNN, he said, "I admire the religious right for the dedication and zeal they put into the political process." That second quote might be defensible as relatively objective if it weren't coming from someone who is going to rely on "the dedication and zeal" of the extremists to win in 2008. Personally speaking, there's nothing I find admirable about the religious right's attacks on anyone who doesn't endorse their bigotry.

Returning to the New Republic article, York quotes McCain saying some surprisingly incendiary things about Democrats that he's already backpedalling from. This morning on 'Meet the Press,' McCain seemed to imply that the quotes were taken out of context. If that's true, they were taken out of context by someone who seems to support him. But I don't buy the out of context idea anyway, as these are pretty simple statements without much room for misinterpretation. Much more likely is the explanation that notoriously loose-lipped McCain said some things he now regrets.

With his war hero credibility, McCain is able to dismiss the calls of some of his fellow lawmakers--and fellow veterans--who want to get out of Iraq. John Kerry, McCain says, doesn't have "the strength to see it through." And John Murtha is "a lovable guy," but "he's never been a big thinker; he's an appropriator." Using language that Bush never could, McCain tells me that Murtha has become too emotional about the human cost of the war. "As we get older, we get more sentimental," McCain says. "And [Murtha] has been very, very affected by the funerals and the families. But you cannot let that affect the way you decide policy."

Shorter McCain: Kerry's a wimp and Murtha's a dumb, sappy geezer. A stubborn stay-the-courser like McCain apparently can't imagine that fellow veterans like Kerry and McCain might actually be basing their shifts on the reality on the ground in Iraq. I simply can't understand how some Democrats can continue to think John McCain cares one iota about their interests after knives in the back like these.

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



thank you
We need more articles like this.  I have never understood the unwarranted infatuation with John McCain.  

He's as right wing as they come.  He's a hawk and his "maverick" status is in my mind just a facade.  look at his voting record and his actions.  If he had the principles of honesty, open mindedness that we impute to him he wouldn't have embraced Bush, campaigned for him or toadied up to the extremme right.

This is an infatuation based upon a chimera of the media's making.  

He's very dangerous to everything Dems hold dear.  And he's savvy and sly, he rolled Feingold on McCain-Feingold in terms of adding provisions that help Republicans and deleting provisions that that either helped the campaign system or at least didn't harm Dems.

by debcoop 2005-12-04 09:04AM | 0 recs
Returning to the New Republic article, York quotes McCain saying some surprisingly incendiary things about Democrats that he's already backpedalling from.

Care to share? The TNR link is subscribers only.

by DavidNYC 2005-12-04 09:25AM | 0 recs
Sorry about that! I didn't realize the piece was subscription only. The blockquote below my comment contains the "incendiary things about Democrats that he's already backpedalling from," the comments on Kerry and Murtha.
by Scott Shields 2005-12-04 09:32AM | 0 recs
McCain isn't all bad
I would never vote for McCain, but its hard not to respect him, even when he is wrong. Look at his history. He conducted the investigation of possible POW's in Vietnam fairly, he was a staunch supporter of action to stop genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo, he is against drilling in ANWR, he was Russ Feingold's ally on campaign finance, he voted with the democrats on HMO regulation, he supported embryonic stem cell research, he called for the 9/11 commission when Bush fiercely opposed it, he opposed the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages, he called the swift boaters "dishonorable", and he called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "forces of evil".  

I remember reading that Winston Churchill's loyalties sometimes got him into trouble. Chamberlain treated Churchill like crap, but when war was imminent and things were falling apart, and all who had previously worshipped Chamberlain and villified Churchill were abandoning ship, Churchill, out of a misplaced sense of loyalty, tried to do his "Horatius at the Gate" routine, and staunchly defended Chamberlain, after having loudly opposed his positions for years. It wasn't a matter of political expediency for Churchill: if Chamberlain was gone, Churchill would have been one of the few considered to replace him, and his defense of Chamberlain infuriated most of Churchill's supporters. I'm not comparing a giant like Churchill to McCain, but just think: if McCain had abandoned the republicans in 2004, he would be Vice President now. If he had switched parties in the 2001-2002 period like he had been threatening to do, he would probably be president now. If McCain was just a manipulative chameleon-like guy trying to get power, he could get it easily. McCain, however, seems to have a sense of loyalty, however misplaced it may be, and as Bush's poll numbers drop, he may feel the need to stand with Bush, no matter how wrong Bush is.

None of this changes what you wrote/quoted. McCain's comments about Murtha and Kerry were way out of line, he is a Bush loyalist on Iraq, and I feel he is wrong about a LOT of issues. I could be completely wrong about why McCain supports Bush now. I would never vote for the guy. But given his military history, and most of the stuff I listed above, can't you see why he might have some popularity, and why some people have problems with democrats who just want to foster hatred of McCain for all of his misdeeds while ignoring everything good the guy has accomplished?

by JRyan 2005-12-04 09:40AM | 0 recs
And yet
He supported Bush's re-election.

I find it difficult to take his positions on ANWR, campaign finance, HMO regulation, same-sex marriage, stem cell research, or the 9/11 commission seriously when he vigorously campaigned for a man who strongly opposed all of those.

Obviously, he doesn't care for them that much.

Honestly?  On the same-sex marriage debate, I see him as about as honorable as a person who says they hate race discrimination, but still thinks that the Grand Dragon deserves to be the governor.  Which is to say, not at all.

by Drew 2005-12-04 10:45AM | 0 recs
Re: And yet
I don't like most of McCain's positions, and I already listed my own weird theory of why he supports Bush. There is a reason this guy isn't a democrat, and a reason why I would never vote for him. But I think that regardless of his mistakes, he definately deserves credit for the stuff he has done. If it weren't for ANWR, campaign finance, and all that stuff, he'd never need to ingratiate himself with Bush and the right wing now. I'm not saying he deserves liberal support, but he deserves some respect and recognition from the netroots. Unfortunately, the media has already given him more respect and recognition than he deserves.
by JRyan 2005-12-04 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain isn't all bad
He voted to convict Clinton on both counts during impeachment.

Either that makes him a right-winger or an unprincipled suck-up.

Neither is good.
And his vote is reason enough for me to have no respect for him

by v2aggie2 2005-12-04 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain isn't all bad
I don't like his vote, and "like" is putting it mildly. But it doesn't wipe out his heroism or the stands he took that ran contrary to his own party.
by JRyan 2005-12-04 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain isn't all bad
I defintely won't argue with his service to his country in the military.  He suffered in a way no one ever should.
by v2aggie2 2005-12-04 07:16PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain isn't all bad
Your points are all well taken. I'm not saying that John McCain is a piece of crap whose citizenship ought to be revoked. Quite to the contrary, I think as a person, John McCain is probably a decent guy. I don't know him, but I've liked one or two of the things he's done and he's got a good sense of humor.

The point is less that McCain is a chameleon an more that he's a really conservative Republican, something the media does a pretty good job of covering up. Posts like these are just meant to serve as reminders.

by Scott Shields 2005-12-04 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain isn't all bad
I completely agree with what you're saying.
by JRyan 2005-12-04 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain isn't all bad
I think Barry Goldwater Had the Perfect discription of McCain.Whenever asked his opinion of the Jr. Senator(out of camera range) his one word answer was always the same.USELESS.
by ctkeith 2005-12-04 07:06PM | 0 recs
He's an opportunist
Plain and Simple
by RBH 2005-12-04 10:08AM | 0 recs
McCain has no Choice
He either appears to be kissing the butt of the religious right and it's Big Corp. allies or Diebold doesn't program him into the machines as the next winner. That's the bar you have to leap to be the candidate of the GOP. The hard right owns the GOP lock stock abd voting machines and MCCain is no fool. He realizes it's the only road to the WH and he's prepared to be a water carrier for these creeps if that's what it takes. Too bad John has had to basically sell what was left of his soul for a shot at the brass ring, but there it is. Anyone voting for this ass klown gets what he deserves. Personally, I can't stand the man anymore. Like Colin Powell he's disgraced himself by doing the bidding of the fascists that run the GOP now.
by Blutodog 2005-12-04 10:46AM | 0 recs
I hope you know you're doing McCain's work for him
He needs to move right to win the nomination.  What better way to do that then have liberals publicly declare him anathema?  

Unfortunately, if he wins the nomination we can't beat him.  So maybe Dems should try to keep him from winning the nomination by embracing him?

That'd be a bit too intelligent for the lefty blog whackos though, I think.

by DelDem 2005-12-04 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: I hope you know you're doing McCain's work for
Yeah, that's brilliant. So if he wins the nomination anyway, we can expect him to win by 50+ percentage points since we've been telling Democrats to love him for three years.
by Covin 2005-12-04 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: I hope you know ...
Yeah, I'm a "whacko" because I think that any progressive or liberal Democrat who supports conservative Republican John McCain is misinformed, if not foolish. Makes total sense to me...
by Scott Shields 2005-12-04 01:27PM | 0 recs
no shot
Scott, I agree completely.  But if McCain is the nom, we are cooked.  He will romp anyone we have; the press will not only kiss his ass but wipe it for him.  There are people in my extremely Democratic office who would vote for him, and the theme has taken.  He is "independent" and "honest."  
by tuffie 2005-12-04 12:03PM | 0 recs
Speaking of kissing McCain's ass
Are you an ass kisser or an ass wiper? Maybe you should straighten out the people in your "extremely Democratic office" if they are that deluded about Two Faced McCain.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-04 04:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Speaking of kissing McCain's ass
Sure thing, Gary.  And when I have time left over, I'll tell Ann Coulter to write books that make sense.  I can -- and have -- argued with people until I'm blue in the face.  Me haranguing co-workers in the face of the MSM toasting the "Straight Talk Express" again next time isn't gonna do it.  And if we all convince 95 of every 100 Dems who like McCain that we're right, we still lose.  Facts mean nothing in this country; look who controls it.
by tuffie 2005-12-04 04:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Speaking of kissing McCain's ass
What's up with the surender monkey routine? Since when is informing people of the facts "haranguing"?

And if we all convince 95 of every 100 Dems who like McCain that we're right, we still lose.

Are you on drugs? If McCain gets 5% of Democrats to vote for him he automatically wins the election in 2008? I guess facts don't mean anything.

Get therapy for your delusional paranoia about McCain's invulnerability.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-04 08:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Speaking of kissing McCain's ass
Gary, I'll be civil even if you aren't.  I'm not "on drugs," nor "delusional."  I believe I know how much effort I've put into convincing people of my positions; past that point is indeed haranguing.  And I did not mean five percent of all Democrats, as you probably knew, when you decided to be a wise-ass.  I meant five percent of the Dems WHO WOULD CONSIDER VOTING FOR McCAIN.  If he peels away enough, we lose.  Always nice to share opinions on a political blog and get called names.  If only we could all have been blessed with your omnipotence.  
by tuffie 2005-12-05 06:08AM | 0 recs
Re: no shot
Nonsense.  I am actually a past admirer, but I think McCain can definitely be taken down.  The Repug coalition is falling apart at the seams, and the Democrats are getting their act together.

McCain is an old man who has been all over the map politically.  He's a senator, and has LOTS of crap that can be dug up.  He has a bad temper, and is likely to shoot his mouth off at least once too often in a contentious campaign.  (Just look at his off-message meltdown in 2000 for evidence!)  He's definitely beatable, with the right candidate (not Hillary, I think), the right issues (minimum wage, Social Security, health care, McCain's unpopular stance on Iraq, etc.), and the right campaign (fierce and on target).  

If the Dems are smart enough to nominate Wes Clark--who neutralizes McCain's military credentials and will have a much more united party behind him than McCain will--then McCain can be thoroughly thrashed, I believe.  Don't believe the hype.  Those early polls are people that haven't been offered a real choice, or a real campaign.    

by paul minot 2005-12-04 06:14PM | 0 recs
I'll take McCain over Hillary.
If that's what it comes down to.  

I know he's not a Democrat, and I am not under any illusions about him not being a politician, with all the mendacity that that job requires.  

But I see Bush this way:  He isn't just bad for this country compared to any Democrat.  He's bad for this country compared to just about any other Republican that could have become president.  The combination of character flaws that have allowed a spoiled princeling like him to govern us in such a reckless manner has kept out saner voices in the permagov and the Republican party itself (I know, we all hate the other Republicans, too, but, sheesh, some of them have some contact with reality.)

I'm willing to believe that another Republican might not be as good as a Democrat, but it might not be as disastrous as Bush has been.  

So, considering that, I look next at Hillary, and I do not like what I see.  I hold her more accountable for her support of the war than I hold McCain and many of the Republicans because it's so much more cynical.  

When Bush and the Republicans point out how many f the Dems in congress voted for this war, he may be admitting his own failure, but he also hits a damned raw nerve with me, and probably a lot of other people too.  I am angrier at the Dems that supported and continue to support this war, even after it's obvious that the whole thing was a fraud and a power play.  They are serving nobody but themselves by this.  Not us, not the Dems, not the country, not the Democratic Party.  Their consistency on this issue only aggravates the situation; it does not make them more "principled."  So the Republicans score with that issue, like it or not, when they bring up the Iraq vote.  It gets a strong emotional reaction from me.

Please, anybody but Bush OR Hillary.  If Hillary is the nominee, screw it.  I would rather have a Democratic congress than a Hillary presidency.  With a Dem congress, we can end the war through the budget process and expose all the lies of the past 5 years through the subpoena process.  It's the Congress I want.

by Dumbo 2005-12-04 02:05PM | 0 recs
Re: I'll take McCain over Hillary.
This is a perfect example of that CW that Democrats eat their own. We tend to be harder on Dems than Reps because we expect more of them, but the reality is that a Clinton presidency would be ten times better than McCain. Sure, she's political and opportunist, but don't you think McCain is just as bad? He started his Senate career off on the right, then moved back in to the middle, and is now moving back out to the right. Why? He's a politician, just like any of them. We're voting for someone to lead the country and stand at the bully pulpit. I'll take someone like Clinton, who has fought for health care reform and abortion rights, over McCain, who will have to rely on Dobson, the Christian Coalition, and the NRA to win the election.
by bluenc 2005-12-04 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: I'll take McCain over Hillary.
Well, I used to be a Republican, so the "eating my own" business is new to me.  

I am not a "centrist," by any means.  I consider myself to be a rational person who is more worried about my country and the insane direction it has taken I am motivated by party loyalties.

On election night, last November, I was in a chatroom with a lot of Kossacks.  (I think the chatroom was set up by Bartcop... perhaps?)  When the news came in that Daschle had been defeated, there was a lot of mumbling about it being the only GOOD news of the night.

I am angrier at the Dems in Congress that voted for this war than at the Republicans.  It was a Republican policy; of course Republicans supported it!  But why people like Daschle and Hillary supported something so obviously flawed...  There is no reason except the most vile type of political opportunism.  

Every time somebody like you or me speaks out against this war, we do so with the burden on our backs that the Dem "strategic class" regularly invalidates our position as "out of the mainstream."

You don't have to agree with me.  I don't say any of this to persuade you, but rather, to give you some feedback on how some, like myself, feel.  It should be useful information.

by Dumbo 2005-12-05 07:21AM | 0 recs
Are you Dumb or Dumber?
Since this is at your bio page:

Maybe you a both dumb and dumber.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-04 04:18PM | 0 recs
McCain flunks progressive purity test, so what?
I'm having trouble understanding these McCain-trashing posts. McCain is a Republican politician doing stuff that you would expect any Republican politician to do. He is a hell of a lot better for America that the neocon wing of the Republican party, but he is not a Democrat or a progressive. Those who get riled up that he is not a progressive are being naive. But those who fail to to see the distinction between Republicans who are conventionally conservative and the neocons out to destroy America, lose the ability to move the political power out of the Neocon's hands.
by De Re Rustica 2005-12-04 03:01PM | 0 recs
Politics are so confusing!
Poor De Re Rustica! All of your single digit comment, McCain ass kissing buddies like McCain. Why is the MyDD community harshing on McCain's mellow?
by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-04 04:21PM | 0 recs
by Cedwyn 2005-12-04 03:35PM | 0 recs
an anti-McCain wiki?
there's a lot of anti-McCain info collected here and elsewhere (such as cedwyn's website).  perhaps we could bundle this into a wiki and start a little anti-McCain virtual think tank?  this guy is well positioned for 2008.
by myddaholic 2005-12-05 06:26AM | 0 recs
more of this please
McCain is a bastard, yet he is revelled like some sort of Lord of the Maverick Center.  It's crap, his voting record and his public Speaking record leave him solidly in the wingnut camp. Maybe not enough to be pro-torture.  Every other vote has been solidly in line with wingnut expectations.

McCain - Maverick my ass

by media in trouble 2005-12-05 10:51AM | 0 recs
McCain VP?
I think the McCain path is possibly one where he is in line to replace Cheney should the VP get some flak.  That places him in a prime spot for 2008.
by bob291 2005-12-05 02:30PM | 0 recs


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