July 12, 2006


The World According to Grover: Grover Norquist talks to the Prospect and friends about Iraq, gay marriage, Jack Abramoff, and more. (The Editors, 6 July 2006, The American Prospect)

The challenge for McCain is that he lost in 2000 because he was ten paces off dead-center -- campaign finance reform. He was generally a Reagan Republican except for campaign finance reform, and that was enough to up-end him because the right-to-life people were concerned, the gun people were concerned, the tax people were concerned. I ran two press conferences on campaign finance reform, one in New Hampshire and one in South Carolina, just before those primaries. He was running around telling people I spent $12 million to kneecap him in South Carolina. I held a press conference. But it had the effect of unsettling the base of the movement. People said he’s not with us on this stuff. So his challenge is, having been 10 paces off, he’s now switched his positions on taxes, on guns, on judges, on Kyoto, and he’s got to run as the guy who flip-flopped on central issues...
And the other challenge he has, and George Will wrote about this, he can’t give the right-to-life people the judges they need, and they figured it out. Because his No. 1 goal in life is to chisel off Keating 5 from his tombstone and spray-paint on campaign finance reform. There are no judges in America who look at the Constitution and say it’s flexible enough for campaign finance reform but not flexible enough for Roe v. Wade, OK? Judges will either say campaign finance reform is unconstitutional and Roe v. Wade is bad law, or campaign finance law is OK and Roe v. Wade is OK, too. So he’s got a number of challenges on that one.

Grover is right on here. Campaign Finance Reform destroyed McCain as a Republican contender because it strikes at the very heart of the movement. Everything but that is forgivable.

Posted by Pepys at July 12, 2006 12:09 AM

Yes. For the 5% of Americans for whom Campaign Finance Reform was THE litmus test of the day, fully 2.5% of them will never forgive McCain for it. The other 2.5% wouldn't have voted for him in the first place.

Me? I've got a war on terrorism to fight, and a few other structural reforms to make permanent. Everything else is just window dressing.

Posted by: HT at July 12, 2006 1:12 AM

HT: I think more that 5% of conservatives were concerned about CFR. There are other candidates who would be strong in the WoT and structural reform who do not have McCain's baggage.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 12, 2006 5:21 AM

Republicans favor CFR which is why W campaigned on it and signed it.

Posted by: oj at July 12, 2006 8:03 AM

I bet it's 80% of conservatives who were/are against CFR. I am a Republican and we do *not* favor CFR. Where do you get that, oj?

Posted by: Kay in CA at July 12, 2006 8:56 AM

One has to distinguish between the run-of-the-mill voter, who doesn't really think about things like the 1st Amendment (too "philosophical", doncha know), and the Republican with a few brain cells to rub together.

OJ is right in that the former outnumber the latter (in both parties).

Bush's signing of CFR was a blunder, and it's time we started to realize that Rove is just another smart guy who makes mistakes (just like the rest of us).

Bush wouldn't have lost one seat in the house or senate, and wouldn't engender as much suspicion from the "yahoos" had he just vetoed the bill.

He campaigned against it, and should have killed it. Rove was wrong.

Posted by: Bruno at July 12, 2006 9:48 AM

Since McCain-Feingold is destroying the Dems, I say good job, John!

Seriously, most people support "campaign reform", it's like supporting motherhood. McCain-Feingold is a huge issue for 3-5% of GOP voters, unfortunately it is a big issue for about 95% of the GOP leaning internets.

Posted by: Bob at July 12, 2006 9:53 AM

Campaign Finance Reform destroyed McCain as a Republican contender...

That's just a ridiculous assertion.

He's certainly a contender, and by most benchmarks (polls, fundraising) he is the LEADING contender for 2008.

Most candidates would love to be so "destroyed!"

Come on now.

Posted by: kevin whited at July 12, 2006 9:58 AM

Some CFR questions -

IF CFR is such a popular issue, why isn't Granny D in the Senate?

Almost all the donors who gave millions in 2004 were Democrats - why isn't the media protesting?

Why did the Court rule to uphold McFeiniac, when it was widely anticipated they would strike it down?

The government can 'control' the airwaves, but will they excercise prior restraint if paper ads are run just before elections?

Will McFeiniac survive a future Court challenge?

Stay tuned.

Posted by: ratbert at July 12, 2006 10:27 AM

It's been well documented that support for CFR was manufactured by large liberal / leftists think tanks. What's odd about OJ's view is that he believes simultaneously

  1. Nobody cares
  2. Bush signed the bill because Republicans care deeply about the issue
In fact, very few people care and the entire issue was astro-turfed. Bush could have vetoed the bill at no cost, signing it was a blunder both morally and politically.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 12, 2006 11:04 AM

That and his "clean government" over the 1st amendment......

Posted by: Sandy P at July 12, 2006 11:52 AM

If you care about any political issue, especially the Big Three (taxes, guns, Roe), CFR is a direct attack on your ability to participate.

The opening paragraphs of the piece make the point that there are issues that get conservatives riled up and then there are the isues on which they actually vote. You can cross the base on the first, but not the second. CFR was a direct attack on every one of the second class of issues. Or it was perceived that way, which is the same thing.

How are the NRA people or the Roe people supposed to support someone who has made it his mission to neuter them?

Finally, as the article says, he can't give the base the kinds of Justices they want. There is a FUNDAMENTAL disconnect between the kind of jurist who'll uphold CFR and those who'll send Roe back or find an individual right to bear arms.

He crossed his Rubicon and it's not gonna work out for him.

Posted by: Pepys at July 12, 2006 1:02 PM


Great analysis, but OJ will undoubtedly ask which contender (Guliani or Romney) could beat Hillary.

Both? Neither? Who else.

I dislike McCain, but against Hillary or even Warner, he's the safer bet.

How do you handicapp the Primaries?

Posted by: Bruno at July 12, 2006 4:05 PM

Giuliani would trounce Hillary if he gets the nod. The group of people who don't really care about politics and would vote for Giuliani is co-extensive. And that's darn near everyone.

As to the primary, I think it's McCain or Rudy. No one else has got a shot.

Remeber, regular people, and especially conservatives, just plain don't like McCain. They love the idea of McCain, but cringe at the reality.

McCain's the kinda guy only a Washington reporter could love.

Of course, he'd still beat Hillary going away.

Posted by: Pepys at July 12, 2006 5:33 PM