May 14, 2006


McCain Reconnects With Liberty University (Dan Balz, 5/14/06, Washington Post)

McCain's appearance came eight months after the founder of the Moral Majority visited him at his Senate office in what both men said was an effort to put their contentious past behind them. This weekend, Falwell rolled out the red carpet for his old adversary, assembling about 150 church leaders from around the country for a Friday night reception and later hosting a small, private dinner for the senator.

At Saturday's commencement ceremonies, McCain and Falwell marched side by side onto the stage in the university's basketball arena. After a sometimes raucous faculty processional, in which students and faculty members doused one another with aerosol cans of string, Falwell warmly praised his guest, saying, "The ilk of John McCain is very scarce, very small."

Neither McCain nor Falwell made even an oblique reference to past differences. After his loss to George W. Bush in the South Carolina primary in 2000, an angry McCain went to Virginia Beach to challenge the power of Christian conservative leaders in the Republican Party and singled out Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson by name. Unexpectedly, he set fire to his own campaign.

His differences then with Falwell and Robertson came principally over campaign finance reform, but his words carried a far harsher message about the power of the religious right. A day later, McCain used the word "evil" to describe his opponents, but afterward, he and his advisers regretted it.

Falwell's visit last September began a process of reconciliation between the two men. "The senator did what I do quite often: spoke out of his emotions and later felt bad about it," Falwell said of that 2000 incident. But in their meeting, he said, "no apologies were asked for or given."

Asked whether he believes their reconciliation helps McCain politically, Falwell, in a telephone interview on Friday, said, "I don't think there's any question about that. There are 80 million evangelicals in this country. My intent was to say that John McCain and I are friends, that I respect him and that there are no problems with yesterday."

Cooler relations persist with some other Christian conservative leaders. The Rev. James Dobson, who leads Focus on the Family, declined a request for an interview about McCain's appearance at Liberty University, and knowledgeable social conservatives say Dobson has a distinctly dubious view of McCain as the prospective leader of the Republican Party. McCain and Robertson have made no attempts to patch up their differences.

Others said McCain will have to demonstrate more consistent respect for religious and social conservatives. "John McCain has to get in line behind a number of other people that have already won our respect and admiration and, in some cases, already our support," said the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition.

Next month, McCain will part company with religious conservatives on the Senate vote over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He opposes the amendment on the grounds that it is an issue for states to decide. Falwell said the two agree that marriage should be between a man and a woman but differ on the means to ensure that.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 14, 2006 8:47 AM

I just finished Joe Klein's "Paean to McCain" (Politics Lost). I'm sure much of the hype will fall off with this visit.

Regardless, a man who said this...

"I work in Washington and I know that money corrupts. And I and a lot of other people were trying to stop that corruption. Obviously, from what we've been seeing lately, we didn't complete the job. But I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government....

Doesn't deserve to be president.

Freedom of Political Speech is the first and foremost weapon against "corruption." The idea that restricting political speech might lead to less corruption is absurd on it's face.

Next, the idea that the insane rules of today's election laws are less "corrupt" than when there is no restrictions is pretty weak. The entire goal of all these laws is to protect incumbents. The laws themselves are "corrupt" on their face.

Sorry OJ, I know you think McCain's the cat's meow. Yes, I'll vote for him over Hillary, but not with much enthusiasm.

Posted by: Bruno at May 14, 2006 10:08 AM


So what? The Congress, the President, the courts and the American people agree with him, not you. You don't win elections by siding with the 25%.

Posted by: oj at May 14, 2006 10:14 AM


Sadly, your point about Congress, W, and the courts only serve to remind me of the sad intellectual state we are in.

W campaigned against McFein, and could easily have vetoed it. More triangulation nonsense by Rovesputin.

Since we agree on most issues, let me ask you this. At what point does one retrun to principles? If there is a point beyond which principled people shouldn't go, isn't the restriction fo political speech with in 30-60 days a pretty good place to draw a line?

Re: 25%, McFein was never that popular. It passed for the worst of reasons. Elected oaficials saw the value in restricting the speech of those who might run against them.

When the fall of our empire is written about in coming centuries, the turning point will be somewhere around this time, when historians will note that restriction of speech led to the stifling of needed debate, and the system lost it's ability to "self-renew."

That is, of course, if there is anybody who has the right to write such a history.

Surely, I sound overly pessimistic this morning, but I'm watching the same world you are.

Posted by: Bruno at May 14, 2006 10:29 AM

No, when CFR proved popular with the voters W campaigned saying he'd sign it. He won.

Republicans have added seats in the two congressional elections since it went into effect.

The American people feel, correctly, that there's too much political "debate." CFR is an attempt to shut the politicians up.

People who object on principle should just violate the law and it won't be enforced or upheld againstregular citizens.

Posted by: oj at May 14, 2006 10:35 AM

There's some very strong evidence that the public didn't care about CFR, that the putative public concern was completely artificial, manufactured by a few large leftist oriented organizations and Old Media. Bush could not only have vetoed it at no political cost, but could have scored some points by speaking up forcefully for basic American freedoms.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at May 14, 2006 12:03 PM

McCain can be tied to Soros on this. An outstandingly rich European deciding what free speech is for Americans won't look so good.

Besides, there's a challenge to CFR and Maverick doesn't like it, he might lose.

Posted by: Sandy P at May 14, 2006 1:40 PM

Old Media is slang for the media people actually watch and read, as opposed to kooky niche media.

Posted by: oj at May 14, 2006 2:08 PM

Watched Tim Russet today ... only to see Newt Gingrich. Newt was superb and respectfully kept Russet in place as he convincingly and logically explained his positions.

Afterwards Russet showed a short clip of McCain's speach at L.U. and he was impressive for both content and presentation.

If the Republican Party has any cojones at all they will nominate Gingrich in 2008. His ideas are appealing and his ability to articulate them are what this country needs ... a leader! Gingrich is the man! I'd love to see him debate anyone from either party.

Bruno, invite Gingrich and McCain to a panel on your program and have OJ there as moderator.

Posted by: Genecis at May 14, 2006 2:32 PM

Gen, Agreed Newt is smart and can get his ideas across, but he fatally damaged himself when he indulged in Clintonian capering.

Posted by: erp at May 14, 2006 3:33 PM

Gingrich was the man for the moment, but he's a loose cannon and unelectable; and, by the way, carried on an affair with a staffer and served his wife with divorce papers in the hospital.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 14, 2006 4:54 PM

David, that's what I meant by Clintonian capering.

Posted by: erp at May 14, 2006 6:31 PM

I suspect if Bush had won in 2000 by 51-47-2, he would have vetoed CFR. But, getting in the way he did, he couldn't. Besides, he said he'd sign something (and what came out was an abomination).

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 14, 2006 7:44 PM

He said he'd sign it, making it a done deal.

Posted by: oj at May 14, 2006 8:04 PM

David and ERP, Assuming that stuff is true, it's a damn shame for the country. But then again what do I know? I even like Cheney, and for many of the same reasons I've liked Newt. Logical, courageous, articulate ... but Newt adds the dimension of personability. I'm just not yet impressed by the current lineup. Disclosure: I voted for McCain in the NH Primary.

Posted by: Genecis at May 15, 2006 5:43 PM