March 21, 2006


Maligning McCain (Howard Kurtz, 3/21/06, Washington Post)

John McCain has always gotten great press, especially since he started riding around New Hampshire in a bus in 1999 and conducting rolling news conferences with reporters that would last for hours.

McCain fell short in that election, of course, but he emerged as the media's favorite maverick. In the first Bush term, McCain won some battles in which he challenged his own party--on campaign finance reform and an anti-torture amendment--that further burnished his legend as an independent truth-teller. John Kerry, you may recall, even begged him to run on the Democratic ticket.

During that whole time, McCain never presented himself as anything other than a rock-ribbed conservative, albeit one who took moderate stances on a few issues. I lost track of the number of liberals who told me privately that they would vote for McCain, even though they disagreed with him on a whole bunch of things, because they viewed him as a leader, war hero and straight talker.

But now, in the early maneuvering for 2008, the Arizona senator (who has been going out of his way to back the battered Bush) is seen in many quarters as the front-runner. And, the ridiculously early CW goes, if he gets the GOP nomination, he would be a good bet to win the White House.

The result: The left is trying to rough him up a bit.

He is, some commentators are shocked to discover, not just a Republican but a conservative.

If the press can figure out he's conservative how far behind can conservatives themselves be?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 21, 2006 4:39 PM

Too late now.

McCain has been so thoroughly sold as the "Great Left Hope," or, at least, the "Great 'Centrist' Hope,"--as the not-Bush--that it is too late to erase that image in the popular mind.

It is because Leftists are ideologues and that conservatism is the absense of ideology that we are able to steer those people like radio-controlled model airplanes.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 21, 2006 5:49 PM

They'll figure it out when the press turns on him and begins reacting with horror to his conservative pronouncements.

Posted by: Brandon at March 21, 2006 5:51 PM

Lou, I hope you're right, but where are we steering them to?

Posted by: erp at March 21, 2006 5:54 PM

Be real - the MSM thinks Chafee is a conservative and Ted Kennedy is a moderate. The MSM will turn on McCain as soon as he becomes the GOP nominee.

Posted by: AWW at March 21, 2006 8:25 PM

Yes, but what he learned fromn W is that they don't matter.

Posted by: oj at March 21, 2006 8:28 PM

Rudy's going to Iowa???

Posted by: Sandy P at March 21, 2006 8:38 PM

McCain is a backstabbing, self-serving, snake. He's "conservative" if he thinks he can get votes with it and "liberal" when he thinks that will work. As a prominent Republican, McCain, over the past 5 years, could have made life a Hell of a lot better for the Bush administration - his duty. But he felt better as a "maverick" forming partnerships with the likes of that kook Feingold to trample all over our first amendment rights.

McCain will get zero support from any real conservative for we see what this crock is full of.

Posted by: Michael at March 21, 2006 10:05 PM


He's a conservative when they count votes in the Senate.

Posted by: oj at March 21, 2006 10:10 PM

Just ask Ma Schafly.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 21, 2006 10:31 PM

OJ: I don't think Senate voting records mean a damn thing.

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at March 21, 2006 10:35 PM


It's what's in his heart, not what he does as a public official?

Posted by: oj at March 21, 2006 10:38 PM

When you're talking about the President, the answer to that question would have to be yes. It's not just another public office.

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 21, 2006 11:27 PM

Of course it is--he even puts his pants on one leg at a time.

Posted by: oj at March 21, 2006 11:31 PM

He still hasn't won many conservatives over, but only a few have declared themselves to be in the "I'm never voting for him" category. For the majority of the others, he's simply on probation for now, and will remain the likely frontrunner unless he pulls some major faux pas in the next 22 months that causes a large majority of the right to go out and actively campaign against him.

Posted by: John at March 21, 2006 11:33 PM

Yes, he is so constrained by Nature. Politically he's a lot less constrained, and so our estimation of his temperament matters that much more.

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 21, 2006 11:38 PM


That's Beltway bullwash. He gets 90% support from Republicans in polls. Unless you're saying that only that 10% is truly "conservative."

Posted by: oj at March 21, 2006 11:40 PM


No, presidents are fiercely constrained by Congress, not at all by Nature.

Posted by: oj at March 21, 2006 11:42 PM

C'mon, oj -- presidents drive Congresses like the cattle they are. Now to be sure there are long fallow periods in every presidency, but in times of crisis they get what they want, if they want it enough. You've said as much yourself dozens of times. Don't make me quote you.

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 21, 2006 11:54 PM

No, they don't or we'd have SS Reform.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 12:00 AM

oj. The BDS bunch wouldn't have been able to conjure up this much venom without a war to roil against and Bush most probably would have gotten most of his reforms through congress.

Posted by: erp at March 22, 2006 8:42 AM

The war hasn't had much effect--the 2000 long count did.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 9:12 AM


You said, "He's a conservative when they count votes in the Senate."

So you think McCain-Feingold is conservative? You think that attacking the Republican president at every turn is an example of being conservative - giving ammunition to the liberals? He's a snake who will say whatever he thinks will get him votes - that's all he is. Although I sometimes suspect he is a real-life "Manchurian Candidate."

And some of the other stuff I've heard about his drinking, drug use, womanizing and truly boorish behavior will never stand public scrutiny. The infatuation some misguided Republicans have with him right now will fade fast - even faster than he faded in the last presidential campaign he tried to mount.

Posted by: michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 22, 2006 1:27 PM


You are correct--there's one issue where he isn't conservative. Of course, the mos conservative president since Coolidge signed CFR which passed a conservative Congress. On everything else McCain's bona fides are impeccable.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 3:09 PM