Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

John Fund on John McCain

Today John Fund has a thoughtful piece on John McCain in the WSJ that's well worth reading. Here's a snippet:

David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union and a key organizer of CPAC, says that Mr. McCain may find it easier than he thinks to make peace overtures to the CPAC attendees. "They are electorally focused like a laser beam on keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House," Mr. Keene told me. "McCain shouldn't talk about the past, but the future. If he emphasizes his record fighting pork-barrel spending and Islamic fanaticism, he will remind conservatives of where they agree rather than where they differ."

Mr. McCain can mention other issues, too. Bob Moffit, a Heritage Foundation official who worked closely with Mitt Romney when the then-Massachusetts governor passed a statewide plan mandating the purchase of health insurance, still likes Mr. Romney. But he calls Mr. McCain's health-care proposals "transformative, and the best of any candidate running." Sen. Tom Coburn, perhaps the most fiscally conservative U.S. senator, notes that Mr. McCain fought President Bush's 2003 Medicare drug entitlement plan. Florida conservatives admire Mr. McCain's refusal to support a federal insurance program to bail out Florida homeowners threatened by natural disasters--and his ability to secure the endorsement of the program's biggest booster, Gov. Charlie Crist, without retreating on the issue.

But Mr. McCain could further bolster his case by forthrightly addressing issues on which he can legitimately bridge issue differences he's had with conservatives. He told The Wall Street Journal's editorial board last month that he now recognizes the 2003 Bush tax cuts, which he voted against, helped spur economic growth. But he has seldom repeated that in public. He can and should acknowledge that scientific advances in adult stem-cell research have weakened the case for federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research that he has supported in the past.

Then there is the issue of judicial nominations, a top priority with conservatives. Nothing would improve Mr. McCain's standing with conservatives more than a forthright restatement of his previously stated view that "one of our greatest problems in America today is justices that legislate from the bench." Mr. McCain bruised his standing with conservatives on the issue when in 2005 he became a key player in the so-called gang of 14, which derailed an effort to end Democratic filibusters of Bush judicial nominees. More recently, Mr. McCain has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito, because "he wore his conservatism on his sleeve."

Therein lies the problem that many conservatives have with John McCain. It is the nagging feeling that after all of his years of chummily bonding with liberal reporters and garnering favorable media coverage from them that the Arizona senator is embarrassed to be seen as too much of a conservative.

This is the key point that we're stuck on regarding John McCain. In 2005 this poor old fool assembled the Gang of 14 to deliberately undermine the president's ability to appoint judges. It's irritating that he accuses Samuel Alito of being too conservative. My Lord, where was Johnny when Alito was being confirmed? WE watched the hearings, and Samuel Alito didn't wear a damn thing on his sleeve other than his judicial philosophy. Had he actually pushed his conservative ideals, Arlen Specter never would have voted for him. Susan Collins wouldn't vote for him. Olympia Snowe would have voted for him. The moderate/liberal Republicans in the Senate wouldn't have gone along with him.

The second part might actually be true -- that he's embarrassed to be seen as a conservative. If that's true, then it's time for him to shut up about his being like Reagan. Reagan was proud of his ideology, and fought for what he believed in when it came to his ideology. No one can say that Reagan didn't believe that conservatism and the Republican party was the right way to go. John McCain obviously doesn't believe that. And if he doesn't believe that he should be a staunch, strong conservative, then how can he be trusted to abide by his word now.

He claims to have "learned my lesson" about McCain/Kennedy, and that he wants enforcement first. Yet he said yesterday that he'd sign the bill if it arrived on his desk as president. (The exchange was rather testy with him coming very close to losing his temper on Tim Russert.) He has not one but rather two open borders advocates on his campaign. So it's impossible to trust him on the immigration issue.

Given that McCain/Lieberman and McCain/Kennedy are two bills that would end up costing the people of this nation a great deal of money with little, if any, benefits for Americans. The Lieberman bill is supposed to help this nation with non-existent global warming, and would end up costing us more money in terms of the taxes proposed. McCain/Kennedy was such a sham to begin with that no one believed that those that would fall under the provisions would get anything more than a slap on the wrist in terms of punishment. Based on this, and the fact that he was against the tax cuts, he can't be trusted on the economy.

He has called for the closing of Guantanamo Bay, using the same talking points that Democrats have about the base. That it's "an embarrassment" to America because of the "torture" that went on down there. (This shows you how much of a shill McCain is for the Democrats. He WAS tortured as a POW, and what we do now isn't torture.)He has tried to get waterboarding banned as a form of torture, which it isn't. Even the military admits that it's not torture. He was also very irate over the fact that Military Commissions Act of 2006 lacked habeas corpus rights for detainees. (He joined Sen. Arlen Specter in complaining about that; Specter claimed that without that it was unconstitutional.) As of right now the Supreme Court is deciding two such cases which challenge the lack of the habeas rights of detainees. (If the USSC follows the DC Circuit Court, the idea of such rights for detainees with neither “property or presence within the United States” will remain as is; that they have no Constitutional rights.)

He can't be trusted on immigration, or the economy, or on judges, and he's not as strong on the war as people believe. In short, John McCain isn't the sort of conservative that Republicans can count on.

Publius II

ADDENDUM: I have been challenged by e-mailers and one commenter that I'm misrepresenting John McCain's stance about McCain/Kennedy -- that he never said he would sign the bill. This comes directly from the Meet The Press transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: If the Senate passed your bill, S1433, the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Bill...

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: ...would you as president sign it?

SEN. McCAIN: Yeah, but we--look, the lesson is it isn't won. It isn't going to come. It isn't going to come. The lesson is they want the border secured first. That's the lesson.

There's his response. "Yeah." Yes, he goes onto say what the lesson is, and that he's learned it, but again we are being asked to trust him. This is a man who has spent the last eight years sticking his fingers in the eyes of the base. When it comes to trust it has to be earned, and even though we will support whoever the nominee is, asking us to trust him is virtually impossible. I concur with Ace's succinct observation regarding this issue:

The fact is that if McCain had bowed to the conservative majority on a single issue -- immigration -- he would easily win the nomination. He refuses to do so. So appeasing and reassuring conservatives is not a priority.

Publius II


Anonymous BT said...

Two things...

1) There is no independent verification of this quote by Fund. All internet news articles merely cite his opinion article, and Fund's article doesn't note the place, time, or circumstance of the quote.

Don't you think a quote this huge would be verified by now?

The only thing we know for sure is that McCain voted for Alito. If he really was against the nominee, you think he wouldn't have voted for him.

2) You've completely misrepresented McCain's response to Russerts hypothetical. McCain essentially said that it was a silly question, because the legislation would never be passed, because it's not what the American people want. This has been his stance on immigration since the failure of the Bill and is nothing but consistent with what McCain has learned.

Personally, I prefer a candidate who learns from what the American people want.


January 28, 2008 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger Syd And Vaughn said...

First and foremost, John Fund has yet to retract or issue a correction on the comment. So, until it is, it stands. The Corner is going rounds with McCain supporters over the comment, and John Fund is standing behind his report.

Secondly, it doesn't matter than he voted for Alito. He voted to confirm Ginsburg and Breyer. That doesn't mean he believes in what they say or their judicial philosophy. It means that the president made an appointmnet, the Judiciary Committee passed him out, and an up-or-down vote was called. (For the record, only three senators opposed Ginsburg -- Don Nickles, Robert Smith, and Jesse Helms.)

And as for the Russert exchange, he did say he would have signed it. He also said that it wouldn't arrive on his desk using the same idea or language as McCain/Kennedy was assembled. I didn't misrepresent a damn thing.

And as for a candidate learning from the people, I'm not sure John McCain has learned a single lesson over the last eight years. He still believes BCRA (McCain/Feingold) was a good idea. He still thinks the Gang of 14 was a smart move, thereby preserving the Democrat's ability to filibuster judicial nominees; an unprecedented move, given their idea of what is an "extraordinary" nominee.

As for immigration, how do you take his reponse of "I'll build the g*d-damned fence if you want it"? We take it as rather arrogant, and even condescendingly hostile.

Publius II

January 28, 2008 at 2:18 PM  

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