Republican Prize Wife John McCain

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.

Tags: Common Cause, Democracy 21, John McCain (all tags)

Comments

8 Comments

Re: Republican Prize Wife John McCain

but here is good noise. dems are coming around. his aprooval rating last month went from 72% among dems to 58 %. so people are taking notice of his tack to the right. if he continues, hell lose the thing that made him electable in the first place

by yomoma2424 2006-04-03 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Republican Prize Wife John McCain

i meant news, not noise. i think im retarded today

by yomoma2424 2006-04-03 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Republican Prize Wife John McCain

I am normally find myself agreeing with you Matt, but not this time.  Without McCain we would never had gotten BCRA passed.  Soft money out of politics is a good thing.  Common Cause has no credibility if they do not form partnerships with Republicans when they are willing to take on corruption.  

Just look at the laundry list of things that CC has accomplished since their founding (by a Republican I might add).  She is not talking about the parties, but rather their members.  

You are correct they have not been able to end all corruption, but every single sunshine law passed since their founding has been moved forward with their help.  FOIA, Lobby Reform Act, and the Ethics in Government Act.  They founded the people powered lobbying group model which has been re-invented for this century by groups like MoveOn.

At worst, they stay silent during one atrocity so they can fix larger problems.  I really wish for example that they spoke out on McCain's illegal fundraising for Schwarzenegger, but they didn't.  They sure as hell are not perfect, but they do a damn better job than a lot of other reform groups in DC.  Our country would be worse off it they were unable to maintain their bi-partisan credentials.

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.

I am not sure I see what your problem is with Celia talking up the fact that they have gone after dirty Democrats and dirty Republicans.  Ending corruption takes the support of both parties to pass legislation.  Considering the fact that they are all self-interested parties it is an extremely high bar to getting anything done.  BCRA was a fairly modest bill, it certantly was nothing revolutionary like public financing of election.  However, it took Common Cause, in conjunction with McCain, Feingold, Shays and Meehan over 10 years to get it enacted.

(full disclosuer I used to work for the Cause)

by juls 2006-04-03 01:28PM | 0 recs
Needed - a full time McCain watch

Blogosphere needs to continue hammering it home the way it has the last month or so.  

Must not stop, the McCain Truth Outing.

by Andmoreagain 2006-04-03 02:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Republican Prize Wife John McCain

In "legally blonde 2", elle woods, the bill writer for a bill against animal testing, activates the delta nu calling tree in her effort to go from the ground up. where is the mistake? elle never even explains the issue - the movie's message to the people is: it doesn't matter what the issue is, just use your group and their communications resource - to create a march because someone at the top, wants you to do it for them.  join in. don't think for yourself.

Unlike "Mr. Smith goes to washington", which had some logic to it - the cotton candy approach is that everyone will just fall in line as soon as they get a phone call.  Thats why Legally Blonde 2 bombed.

But guess what? It sold something. Isn't that what movies, and the blogosphere is for these days?

I think not. I am not buying this constant hammering on McCain when the same author gives us deafening silence on filibuster action against a hard right justice,  support for censure against george bush, and has never posted anything about the environment.

McCain fights for the environment. Thats why I like him. 20 miles from here, 19 people died last night in the most vicious storm they'd ever seen.
The season hasn't even begun.

Environment is number one. McCain is good enough for me. The Democrats will not win with me, just because the GOP is losing.

Mr. Smith needs to Go to Washington again.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-04-03 02:38PM | 0 recs
A little parsing...

No doubt that McCain is stupendously popular with liberals: in Beyond Red and Blue from Pew last year (p20), he was the GOP 08 pick of 55% of liberals questioned. (The GOP-leaning demos maxed out at 27%!)

Why?

Bipartisan, independent of party hierarchy, principled: these may be bullshit tags when applied to McCain (or any other non-fiction pol), but I can see why they might nestle in a comfy mental corner of the average liberal.

It's a Hollywood dream of how politics might be if only you could get the nasty politicians out. A sort of Return of the Era of Good Feelings. (And we know what a bitchfest that was!) No log-rolling, contribution-grubbing, corporate-welfare-trading for Honest John. (He's Jefferson Smith - according to the popular, painfully naive, reading of Capra's movie.)

A person could suppose that McCain's image corresponded with reality only if he was almost entirely ignorant about American politics or was willing to suspend his disbelief.

I suspect that the stereotype that the (false) image of McCain embodies so titillates the liberal sensibilities (tapping into Jeffersonian notions of the plain man of the land as against the corrupt schemer of the city) and works so subtly as to be hard to resist to someone disposed to think the best of people, and sadly so often confronted with evidence to the contrary.

(One might ponder why the lefty sphere - the latest thing in Dem politics - should be afflicted by a similar inclination: the political crushes on outsider candidates, the anguished cries when erstwhile heart-throbs (the latest being Brer Obama, apparently) prove to have feet of clay (solid enough to roll logs with, though!).

The slightest knowledge of US political history indicates that there never was a Golden Age to approach the high ideals that some lefties appear to look for in their Dem pols. And that the upcoming period of divided government that they're passionately hoping for (from Jan 07 onwards) is likely to involve more log-rolling and fewer principles that this one!)

by skeptic06 2006-04-03 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Republican Prize Wife John McCain

McCain has done some good things.  I agree with the thrust of Matt's analysis, which is why McCain scares me so much if the GOP nominates him in 2008.  He has an image fixed in the public mind as a great reformer, as bipartisan, above politics, etc.  It's the image, not the voting record, in the public mind.  

by howardpark 2006-04-03 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Republican Prize Wife John McCain

The left-leaning reformer/good-government groups you speak of are mostly 501(c)4 issue advocacy non-profit groups. If nothing else, given their non-profit charter, it's against the law for them to be overtly partisan. More importantly, their role is to stand up for their issues (namely election reform, media reform, campaign finance reform, and ethics in government, which usually, but not always, dovetail with the objectives of the Democratic Party).

Moreover, how can Matt (on MyDD, the epitome of a process site) refer to process issues as 'petty' or 'small' no less than three times in one post? MyDD may only be interested in process insofar as it helps progressive Democrats win (a laudable goal), and process and good government is not the end all of politics, but it does matter.

For sure, a McCain presidency would be an anathema to progressives, but he has done good work for a long time on campaign finance; that's all that Common Cause supports him for. If they didn't acknowledge the few Republicans who have done yeoman's work for their issues, Common Cause would look like a left-wing tool, not an issue-oriented reform group. (The right has far more hatred for Common Cause than the left, despite the relatively few Republicans Common Cause defends.)

Progressives need to hammer away at the fact McCain's self-portrayal as an 'honest politician' is so unusual among conservative Republicans like himself and highlight all the hard-right things he does, as this site does so well. Don't look like a fool by denying that McCain does anything positive.

(Disclaimer: I briefly worked for Common Cause.)

by alex hill 2006-04-03 08:08PM | 0 recs

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