Citizen McCain:Hugging the Hard Right Shore

This Nation article ("The Real McCain") is a good antidote for all those naïfs out there who believe that John McCain is some kind of "maverick," a genuine alternative to the hard-right Bushist machine. If anything, McCain's rock-ribbed conservative credentials have long been more solid than Bush's. Read McCain's gushy, cringing praises of his Glorious Leader below and you will know exactly what we have here: another Colin Powell, riding a media-concocted image of bipartisan statesmanship to national prominence, but when the chips are down, falling dutifully into line behind the ruthless agenda of the predatory Right. God save us from any more such poseurs.

[Excerpt] But the senator...projected a far more conciliatory image than the trash-talking maverick portrayed in the national media. Before the event he had endorsed teaching "intelligent design" alongside evolution in public schools, and he had expressed support for a rigid state ban on gay marriage that denies government benefits to any unmarried couple. After brief opening remarks, McCain took questions for more than two hours, referring to Reagan as "my hero," invoking the support of other conservatives on issues such as stem-cell research and immigration, and strenuously defending President Bush's Iraq policy....

 He has met with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, whom he denounced as one of the religious right's "peddlers of intolerance" after the 2000 South Carolina primary... he reversed positions and supported a procedural repeal of the estate tax. He has endorsed conservative Republican Ken Blackwell for Ohio governor. At the suggestion of conservative activist and longtime nemesis Grover Norquist, he campaigned for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's failed referendum initiatives in California, particularly the "paycheck protection" provision targeting unions' political activities.

In late September, as Bush's presidency tailspinned, McCain headlined a dinner of conservative intellectuals sponsored by The American Spectator magazine. "Campaigning with George W. Bush was one of the proudest moments of my life," McCain declared. "McCain spoke fervently and with obvious sincerity about how much he admires Bush and the job he has been doing," wrote Michael Barone of US News & World Report...

McCain has urged deep cuts to nondefense and non-homeland-security-related spending--cuts that Democratic Senate minority leader Harry Reid dubs "immoral." At a recent appearance before the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation, McCain described himself as a "Barry Goldwater Republican" who "revere[s] Ronald Reagan and his stand of limited government."

In fact, McCain has always been far more conservative than either his supporters or detractors acknowledge. In 2004 he earned a perfect 100 percent rating from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum and a 0 percent from NARAL..He has opposed extension of the assault-weapons ban, federal hate crimes legislation and the International Criminal Court. He has supported school vouchers, a missile defense shield and private accounts for Social Security. Well before 9/11 McCain advocated a new Reagan Doctrine of "rogue-state rollback."

The turning point came when McCain not only endorsed Bush for re-election but made more than twenty campaign appearances with the President and defended his Iraq policy at the Republican National Convention....McCain campaigned with Bush on his push for Social Security privatization last spring...McCain strongly supported all three of Bush's Supreme Court picks.

"I admire the religious right for the dedication and zeal they put into the political process," McCain told Larry King recently. [End excerpt]

Oh yes, he was also hip deep in one of the most sordid bribery scandals in modern Senate history -- the Keating Five -- and barely escaped the hoosegow by the skin of his teeth. If this is your big bipartisan hero, the visionary statesman who will "bring us together" (as long as we all agree to live in locked-down, hard-right bliss) -- you "muscular liberals" can have him.