The Real McCain
by Gary Boatwright, Fri Nov 25, 2005 at 10:42:26 AM EST
The Nation has gotten on board the McCain Truthsquad bandwagon started by Matt Stoller in these diaries:
This is the starting point for Ari Berman's article:The détente with conservatives that began with his vigorous embrace of Bush during the 2004 campaign has become a full-on charm offensive. . . . His office holds regular meetings with conservative leaders in South Carolina, where his approval rating sits at 65 percent. He has met with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, whom he denounced as one of the religious right's "peddlers of intolerance" after the 2000 South Carolina primary.
After the antitax Club for Growth began running ads against McCain in New Hampshire, a state he won in 2000, he reversed positions and supported a procedural repeal of the estate tax. He has endorsed conservative Republican Ken Blackwell for Ohio governor.
At the suggestion of conservative activist and longtime nemesis Grover Norquist, he campaigned for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's failed referendum initiatives in California, particularly the "paycheck protection" provision targeting unions' political activities. McCain's likely to be the most requested Republican campaigner in 2006 races. "He's the closest thing to a rock star in the Republican Party today," says Michigan Republican Party chair Saul Anuzis.
Even though McCain is the 4th most conservative Senator at 14 places to the right of Trent Lott, he is still running further to the right:
At a recent appearance before the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation, McCain described himself as a "Barry Goldwater Republican" who "revere[s] Ronald Reagan and his stand of limited government." The routine has won him praise from the likes of National Review editor Rich Lowry, who recently wrote: "For the first time in years, conservatives have listened to McCain talk about a high-profile domestic issue and have nodded their heads vigorously."
In fact, McCain has always been far more conservative than either his supporters or detractors acknowledge. In 2004 he earned a perfect 100 percent rating from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum and a 0 percent from NARAL. Citizens Against Government Waste dubs him a "taxpayer hero."
He has opposed extension of the assault-weapons ban, federal hate crimes legislation and the International Criminal Court. He has supported school vouchers, a missile defense shield and private accounts for Social Security. Well before 9/11 McCain advocated a new Reagan Doctrine of "rogue-state rollback."
Naturally, McCain is still not "conservative" enough for Grover Norquist. Ghengis Khan would be too liberal for Grover Norquist.
Some of that criticism can be chalked up to McCain's testy relationship with parts of the GOP's Beltway establishment. Toomey's Club for Growth is being sued by the Federal Election Commission for violating a section of the campaign-finance laws that McCain wrote. Norquist is implicated in McCain's current investigation of how über-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed milked millions in casino money from unsuspecting Indian tribes. But among social conservatives, McCain's standing is unquestionably precarious. Though he has always voted with the right on abortion, McCain opposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage (on states' rights grounds). He supports expanding federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and he helped preserve the filibuster by stalling the "nuclear option" for judicial nominees in the Senate.
The voters are going to be seeing a lot of Two Faced McCain: