Republican Prize Wife John McCain
by Matt Stoller, Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 12:06:50 PM EDT
Despite the progressive blogosphere's best efforts, liberals still love John McCain. This is meaningful, because without relatively high approval ratings among Democrats John McCain wouldn't be considered a strong candidate in 2008 and he wouldn't have a reformer mantle. But why is it that John McCain is so beloved? Well, one reason is that he has a lot of allies on the left, allies such as Common Cause, Democracy 21, and a whole host of 'reformer' groups interested in small process issues that find him useful as bipartisan arm candy. For these groups, McCain is an easy ticket to bipartisanship, and though their sympathies lean left, their actions do not. In local papers, in the news, on the cocktail circuit, these groups promote John McCain, because promoting him means promoting their image as bipartisan reformers. This raises his numbers among liberals who tend to like good government groups.
Common Cause, for instance, loves cozying up to John McCain because it helps them showcase their proud bipartisanship. Take lobbying reform, a petty process oriented piece of legislation that limits gifts by lobbyists and forces more disclosure. While full of happy talk, any small amount of good this legislation could do is overshadowed by the rampant criminality among those who write the laws and among those executive branch officials who don't believe in the law. It's dumb to focus on lobbyists when the problem is corrupt lawmakers, but they are doing it anyway, because it's where they can use John McCain as a prize wife Republican.
Actually, it's not just dumb, it's downright corrupt. McCain has already cozied up to Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the lynchpin of the conservative movement and a key vessel that funnels money around the right-wing. He has hired Terry Nelson, a Bush loyalist whose name was included in the TRMPAC indictment, and who was the boss of James Tobin, the Republican operative convicted of phone jamming Democrats in New Hampshire.
More importantly, in the investigations he ran as Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, he promised not to investigate any GOP members of Congress. This is from a March 10, 2005 Roll Call article:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has assured his colleagues that his expanding investigation into the activities of a former GOP lobbyist and a half-dozen of his tribal casino clients is not directed at revealing ethically questionable actions by Members of Congress.
At a Senate Republican luncheon last Wednesday, McCain told the gathering that his own probe, being run through the Indian Affairs Committee, is simply looking into potential "fraudulent" activities perpetrated against the tribes by Jack Abramoff and his associates.
"It's not our responsibility in any way to involve ourselves in the ethics process [of Senators]," McCain said Wednesday, explaining the comments he made to his fellow GOP Senators. "That was not the responsibility of the Indian Affairs Committee."
McCain's comments to Republicans, made at the weekly lunch of the GOP's Steering Committee, came on the same day a trio of stories landed in Washington newspapers raising questions about the legislative actions taken by two GOP Senators and political donations to an interest group established in 1997 by Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
Because of those stories - and several other news reports touching on Abramoff's relationship with Members - McCain said he wanted to let Senators know that he was not trying to air any of their dirty laundry.
Using McCain as Common Cause's poster boy is like appointing Whitney Houston as the spokeswoman for the Partnership for a Drug Free America. He should be held accountable for his bad actions, instead of feted for his willingness to engage in petty process issues.
But in order for that to happen, the goo goo groups will have to get back to their original purpose of ending corruption in government instead of serving as a dating service for Republican arm candy. Celia Wexley will need to stop making it a point of pride that "We have been the scourge of both parties for a long time." It's not about hurting the party system, it's about ending corruption. something Common Cause has utterly failed at since its founding in 1970.
I don't know if ending 527s is a good idea. I don't know if loves John McCain's legislation on lobbying reform makes sense. What I do know is that John McCain is acting like a typical politician with these groups, and is screwing over their goal of ending corruption in government. I hope that these groups get over their relationship with arm candy Republicans like John McCain, and realize that corruption in government isn't going to be solved by people who profit from said corruption.