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Tonight, while watching the evening news I saw something distlinctly surreal: There on the screen was Senator John McCain speaking to the press. He was explaining how he was going to unite conservatives behind him. Nodding in agreement and literally behind him was Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democratic John Kerry's running mate four years ago. Ironically Senator McCain had seriously considered being Kerry's running mate before political and other calculations made him reconsider, leaving the door open for Lieberman. This little scenario is emblematic of one of the reasons John McCain won't be President and why the Movement Conservatives are in almost full revolt at the very idea. Any Republican who could for even a moment entertain being the running mate for the ultra-liberal Kerry can't be a conservative.
But McCain's being widely known as liberals' favorite Republican and his long history of sticking his finger in the eyes of conservatives whenever it suits him (an action in which he always seems to take a smirking glee) are only two of three factors which with a third, his notoriusly thin skin and short fuse form a perfect storm of behaviour and character traits that cause him to be utterly undeserving of conservative support and likely to be a disaster as President should he somehow manage to win that most important of offices.
McCain has said more things that are and should be concerning to conservatives than almost any other Republican with the possible exceptions of former Republican Senators Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Jeffords. Just a sampling: According to the Boston Globe in April, 2004 and then confirmed by McCain himself two days later to Chris Mathews on Hardball, McCain declared, "I think the Democratic Party is a fine party, and I have no problem with it, their views and their philosphy."
In a January 2000 debate Senator McCain, sounding to all the world like he was lifting his lines from the Democratic talking points said, "“I have never engaged in class warfare. I am very much in favor of tax cuts for middle-income and lower-income Americans. I’m deeply concerned about a kind of class warfare that’s going on right now. It’s unfortunate. There’s a growing gap between the haves and have-nots in America, and that gap is growing, and it’s unfortunately divided up along ethnic lines. I feel very strongly that we ought to have middle-income and lower-income tax cuts, and we’ll be getting into it, I’m sure, later on in this program. Mine are basically comparable to Gov. Bush’s, in some cases far better. But I’m not sure we need to give two-thirds of that tax cut, of that money, to the wealthiest 10% of America.” Although he now says that he was one of only two Republicans to vote against the Bush Tax Cuts of 2001 because he was interested in having them accompanied by spending cuts, the above quote is representative of what he was actually saying at the time.
Although now denying he supports amnesty for illegal immigrants Senator McCrain the co-author of the Kennedy/McCain Immigration bill in a May 29, 2003 interview said, "Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens."
The mainstream media and Democrats have, of course loved this kind of talk and have helped to make Senator McCain a star. In their recent endorsement of him the New York Times said, "Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe." And why wouldn't they be thrilled with Senator McCain? He is their kind of Republican. And according to John Kerry, McCain almost became his kind of Democrat as can be seen in this interview with the liberal blog MyDD:
Jonathan Singer (of MyDD): There’s a story in The Hill, I think on Tuesday, by Bob Cusack on the front page of the paper talking about how John McCain’s people — John Weaver — had approached Tom Daschle and a New York Congressman, I don’t remember his name, about switching parties. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what your discussions were with him in 2004, how far it went, who approached whom… if there was any “there” there.
John Kerry: I don’t know all the details of it. I know that Tom, from a conversation with him, was in conversation with a number of Republicans back then. It doesn’t surprise me completely because his people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket as Vice President. So his people were active — let’s put it that way."
As if these disturbing points aren't enough, there is also the problem of McCain's temperment. According to Newmax.com, in a July 5, 2006 interview former Sen. Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican who served with McCain on the Senate Armed Services Committee said, "I have witnessed incidents where he has used profanity at colleagues and exploded at colleagues . . . He would disagree about something and then explode. It was incidents of irrational behavior. We've all had incidents where we have gotten angry, but I've never seen anyone act like that." But such stories are legion with Senator McCain. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ... said in a recent interview that he was so upset by a McCain tirade that he didn't speak to him "for a couple of years." McCain got in his face and shouted an obscenity at him. Senator Thad Cochran R - Miss. gave the following as the reason he was supporting Mitt Romney over McCain in the current race, "The thought of him being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Cochran said. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."
Some have suggested that McCain's often irrational temper is an after-effect of his five long years as a Vietnamese prisoner of war but such seems not to be the case as his military records indicate his temper was a problem before his captivity. Perhaps that very temper is one of the reasons he was able to survive captivity. In that situation, maybe unbridled rage was the difference between life and death. The Washington political environment may often be compared to war but it seems to me that rage is not one of the best weapons a President needs in his arsenal.
Tomorrow is Super Tuesday after which, all Senator McCain's media friends (and Senator McCain) are telling us, he will become the presumptive nominee. They may be right. If so, the Republican Party may soon come to regret their decision. Oh, and as for all Mr. McCain's "friends" in the media and the Democratic Party, I think he will soon see that after they've helped secure his nomination they'll turn around and treat him will all the disdain they always treat Republicans. He may be their favorite Repbulican but any Republican, even one as eager to please as Senator McCain will be thrown overboard in a heartbeat when the choice is between him and a real Democrat.
For a conservative, John McCain, Republican standard bearer is the bitterest of pills. The only question that may remain after November of this year is, "How do we pick up the pieces?"