April 24, 2006


Gearing Up for '08? McCain Befriends Old Enemies: He's Receiving Money From People Who Attacked Him in 2000 (JAKE TAPPER, April 23, 2006, ABC News)

In March 2000, in the thick of that highly-charged GOP presidential competition between McCain and then-Gov. George W. Bush, Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly -- major contributors to Bush -- funded a $2.5 million advertising campaign by a group calling itself "Republicans for Clear Air" that ran an ad against McCain in California, New York and Ohio.

Initially the Wylys did not acknowledge they were responsible for the ads -- and once it came out that they were they and the Bush 2000 presidential campaign denied any coordination, which would have been a violation of Federal Election Commission laws. McCain's campaign filed a complaint with the FEC alleging the Wylys broke the law.

The candidate himself referred to the brothers as "Wyly coyotes" and asked a campaign audience in Boston, "Are we going to allow two cronies of George W. Bush to hijack this election? Tell them to keep their dirty money in the state of Texas, my friends. Don't spread it all over New England and America."

But now the candidate from Arizona, planning a potential run for president in 2008, seems to have a different relationship with the coyotes.

Sam Wyly and his wife Cheryl have given McCain's political action committee a total of $10,000, according to records on the PAC's Web site. Additionally, Sam, Cheryl, and Charles Wyly are all co-chairing a May 15 fundraiser for McCain's PAC, to be hosted in Dallas, and featuring Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman.

"This all seems to me to be a reflection of the fear that lots of old-line Republicans have of what lies ahead in 2008," said Norm Ornstein, congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, "and the ability of McCain to seduce them in a sense into a belief that he's the only guy that can win."

It's just his turn at the top and they'd use the same tactics to stop an insurgency against him. The party is hierarchical and challengers aren't welcome.

MORE (via Peps):
He's a weasel, but he's my weasel (Jonathan Chait, April 23, 2006, LA Times)

Remaining competitive for the Republican Party's 2008 nomination has required McCain to mend fences with the conservatives who savaged him during the 2000 primary season and after. Most of the concessions he has made to the right, though, have been symbolic.

He lavished extravagant praise on President Bush for his leadership in the war on terror, even though McCain criticized most of Bush's specific decisions, such as letting Osama bin Laden escape and invading Iraq with too few troops. His overtures to Jerry Falwell and his endorsement of "intelligent design" sent friendly signals to conservatives without actually binding McCain to legislative positions if he wins.

These are, certainly, acts of weaselry. But like I said, I don't really care. Politicians can always persuade themselves to make small compromises in the pursuit of a larger good. I think McCain has a genuine desire to transform his party and his country, and he's willing to say things he doesn't agree with in order to be able to do it.

It's possible he was lying then and he's telling the truth now. But why would he? The liberal positions he took during the GOP primaries made him radioactive to the base and killed his campaign. They nearly got him run out of the party he hoped to lead. If he was acting out of expediency, he would have toed the line.

The more pertinent question is, will McCain make specific promises to the right that he can't weasel out of? His vote to extend the Bush tax cuts he once opposed is a bad sign (though he hasn't said he'd veto any tax hike). Also, can McCain get through a GOP primary without committing himself to a series of litmus tests? Will he surround himself with conventional right-wing staff?

I suspect that if he emerges victorious from the primaries, he will have had to shed many of his ideals. It's not attractive. On the other hand, it's better than a Republican who didn't have to sell his soul to get the nomination. I'd prefer somebody who's uncomfortable in Karl Rove's Republican Party to somebody who genuinely likes it.

Boy, Mr. Chait's head is gonna explode when the Senator hires Karl Rove.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 24, 2006 7:22 PM

But McCain stole my line about the Wylys. Of course, I was going to tie it (coyote) to the Minutemen and Tancredo. Really, I was.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 24, 2006 11:05 PM

"It's possible he was lying then and he's telling the truth now."

But it's more likely he was telling his true thoughts then and is lying now.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 25, 2006 12:28 AM

Or that he's just a politician, not the Man On Horseback that people like Chait believe him to be, and he believed it now and he believed it then, and he will believe something that contradicts both if it'll make him President Keating-McCain in '009.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 25, 2006 12:33 AM

OJ keeps telling us that Bush simply told us all what he was going to do and then surprised everyone by doing it. With few exceptions, this is accurate.

McCain has operated in the exact opposite manner. Why should either the left or right trust anything he says? He appears to me to be the most dangerous of politicians.

Would I vote for him over Hillary? Obviously. Am I hoping for Allen or Romney to win the nomination. You bet.

Posted by: Bruno at April 25, 2006 11:07 AM

McCain says he's a conservative Republican and he votes that way, surprising both conservative ideologues and liberals.

Posted by: oj at April 25, 2006 11:34 AM

If George W. Bush hadn't run in 2000, the media would have done to McCain what they did to Bush--portray him as the Scariest Republican Ever. Instead he became the media's Republican Anybody But Bush. And there's nothing they or anybody else can do to stop him now.

Posted by: b at April 25, 2006 3:43 PM