Prediction Markets In Republican Spin

by John Holbo on January 30, 2008

In November, we’ll be sending out our most liberal, least trustworthy candidate to take on Hillary Clinton—perhaps not more liberal than Barack Obama, but certainly far less trustworthy. And the worst part for the Right is that McCain will have won the nomination while ignoring, insulting and, as of this weekend, shamelessly lying about conservatives and conservatism.

(Over at the Corner.)

In this election the right hand has no clue what either the right or left hands are doing. Apparently. Nor can I really believe it’s some sort of deep game – Operation Briar Patch.

This can’t last. Quite possibly, it can’t last another week. If McCain wraps it up, what will Republican wisdom be? (Obviously the bumperstickers won’t read ‘McCain: probably less liberal than Obama’.) There are basically three options: 1) McCain as maverick liberal goes down the memory hole. Don’t look back. We have always been at peace with McCainia. 2) McCain as new direction. So far, there is zero evidence of this sort of framing. But there is obvious desire to get the Republican party back on track, after Bush. So, if McCain is it, there is an advantage to brandishing his former maverick status as evidence that real change has been achieved. 3) It was personal, not political. It will be discovered that McCain’s maverick status was just a function of his personal rivalry with Bush. We’re done with Bush, so we’re over that.

It is very hard for me to imagine a world in which Republicans reliably say any of 1)-3) about the formerly anathema McCain. But they can’t call him a liberal, or run him as an ‘until 2012’ placeholder. What, then? What will be the reason why McCain was obviously always the best man for the job?

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Why Do Conservatives Hate McCain?
01.30.08 at 3:50 pm



Seth Finkelstein 01.30.08 at 8:00 am

I vote #1 – “memory hole”. Political hacks don’t care about intellectual consistency. Or even what they said yesterday.


abb1 01.30.08 at 8:26 am

McCain is not perfect, but the Democratic nominee is positively evil.


bryan 01.30.08 at 8:44 am

It turns out that McCain’s black baby wasn’t black after all, but Obama really is. Also McCain is Christian, we thought he wasn’t because we’d heard he wasn’t religious, but it turns out the religion he isn’t is Muslim. Obama is Muslim.

On the chance Hillary wins:

McCain, not jacked up on Testosterone. Not busting your balls. Not Hillary.


David Moles 01.30.08 at 8:48 am

I’m expecting #1, plus an emphasis on the second half of abb1’s proposal.

It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes Rush Limbaugh to become a full-bore McCain supporter after the effort he’s put into trashing him. Though given that whoever wins the Republican nomination is almost certain to lose, maybe Rush will be able to skate by on “(Hillary|Obama) is the devil” till the election, then blame McCain’s wingnuttery deficit for the loss.


Z 01.30.08 at 8:49 am

Why speculate? Reading Powerline and/or Ann Coulter has been very informative these last weeks. My bet: party hacks will endorse McCain fully, the fringe will not.


bad Jim 01.30.08 at 9:00 am

Not that early polls are worth a rat’s patootie, but so far Hillary’s tested best against McCain.

It could yet be a rout: McCain’s already admitted that he’s clueless about the economy, which is shaping up to be the key issue. His secret plan to capture bin Laden just might not gain traction.


shub-negrorath 01.30.08 at 9:05 am

Somehow I can’t shake the persistent fear that “anyone but Hillary” will get out far more GOP faithful (and sympathetic independents) than “anyone but Bush” got out Dems and liberals.


elbujo 01.30.08 at 9:51 am

Wait, aren’t conservatives supposed to be seeking a stern father while liberal seek a nurturing mother?

Or something.

McCain can totally do the stern father thing.

As for who will win, remember it’s just: Whoever is taller.


GreatZamfir 01.30.08 at 9:59 am

Can anyone explain to me why McCain produces these kinds of responses? From the little I know about the guy, he would be about as solid a conservative candidate as any right-wing European party would want to run.

I can imagine people who want someone even more to the right, but there is a large step from seeing him as less good than Romney to calling him a lesser evil.


Stuart 01.30.08 at 10:36 am

From the little I know about the guy, he would be about as solid a conservative candidate as any right-wing European party would want to run.

Which in the US pretty much makes him well into being left wing/liberal, doesn’t it?


abb1 01.30.08 at 10:38 am

why McCain produces these kinds of responses

Mystery, indeed. I imagine if I were a wingnut I would’ve certainly preferred McCain to Romney; McCain seems way nuttier. Gotta be some code-words things we can’t understand. Or maybe something between neo- and paleo-; paleos don’t like him much. Pat Buchanan’s sister works for Romney.


GreatZamfir 01.30.08 at 10:51 am

Which in the US pretty much makes him well into being left wing/liberal, doesn’t it?

I don’t think so. While the American Democratic party maps pretty well on the more liberal sides of European right-wing parties, these parties also have true conservative wings, whose policies are not exactly those of the Republican party, but whose general attitude and worldview seems to have a lot in common with American Conservatives. And McCain would fit in quite well over there, I think. Although I don’t know enough about him to be sure.


JP Stormcrow 01.30.08 at 11:02 am

I am a bit puzzled as well, by what really motivates the hatred. My personal view is that a lot of it is that he did not kowtow 100% to Bushco during the glory days (he was prematurely anti-asshole). Searching around a bit this post brings no original analysis, but it provides a good summary of the issues that most claim are at the heart of it (I would add immigration as well, which the post does not mention.)


abb1 01.30.08 at 11:19 am

Immigration is number 4 in the post you linked, Jp.


GreatZamfir 01.30.08 at 11:23 am

JP, thanks! From those points, I get the impression that he is felt to be not quite loyal to the Republican team, even if he basically supports their points.

Is this true? I.e. is he really relatively independent from the party as a whole?


leinad 01.30.08 at 11:31 am

I keep reading this as ‘Prediction Markets in Republican Spain’.



JP Stormcrow 01.30.08 at 11:33 am

Immigration is number 4 in the post you linked, Jp.

So it is … missed that.


Bruce Baugh 01.30.08 at 11:41 am

I’ll vote for the memory hole. The Republican machine is demonstrably rock-solid when it comes to the adjustment of memory and attitude.


abb1 01.30.08 at 11:44 am

not quite loyal to the Republican team

Well, of course Attila the Hun would’ve been a better nominee than McCain, but Romney? How is Romney better? He signed a universal healthcare bill, for chrissake. He is a pro-gay, pro-abortion, anti-gun Massachusetts liberal. He raised gasoline tax and gun incense fee. He IS EVIL.


Matt 01.30.08 at 12:01 pm

The funny thing with all the anti-McCain stuff is that he really is very, very conservative (0% NARAL rating, anyone?) He has, on occasion, taken positions that were not completely party-line (week opposition to the first Bush tax cuts [though I’m sure he voted for them in the end], not always 100% crazy on immigration, supported a poorly done and ineffectual version of campaign finance reform) but that are all plausibly conservative and certainly still within traditional bounds of the recent republican party. So, the hatred is odd, especially since he’s rabidly pro-war. I attribute it to the general stupidity of the Republican hack class.


GreatZamfir 01.30.08 at 12:21 pm

Who is the guy at The Corner who wrote the original piece? Can we ask him, if we formulate well? Seems like a good point to diminish the Sunsteineque insulation.

For example “As I understand from your post, you consider McCain to be an unsuitable candidate for the Republican party, and quite strongly so. Can you explain, to a foreigner, why you disagree so strongly with senator McCain?”

I can’t seem to find comments on his site.


liberal 01.30.08 at 12:34 pm

I agree with the other posters who are at least somewhat puzzled by McCain’s poor reception with conservatives.

Other than the immigration issue, there’s campaign finance reform, which most conservatives are against. Re immigration, I would figure that the hostility to McCain predates the most recent revival of this as an important issue in the US.

One issue he’s supposedly relatively liberal on is the environment, IIRC.

He’s certainly extremely anti-abortion (viz, pro forced-pregnancy).

I think maybe it’s largely a cognitive think—he gives the appearance (or has his boot-licking toadies in the press claiming) that he’s a maverick, whereas the right likes its officials jackbooted.


Maurice Meilleur 01.30.08 at 12:50 pm

Don’t forget torture. McCain can’t be a real conservative because he won’t reflexively sanction torture in the GWOT(tm). I would say that’s a bigger problem for earnest movement conservatives and neocons than immigration (mostly a red meat issue for the Tancredo nationalists) and maybe even than campaign finance.


GreatZamfir 01.30.08 at 1:02 pm

So McCain is called You-Know-Who because he wouldn’t use the Cruciatus spell?


mds 01.30.08 at 1:18 pm

I agree with the other posters who are at least somewhat puzzled by McCain’s poor reception with conservatives.

One part of it is fairly easily explained: back in 2000, he took a page from his political inspiration, Barry Goldwater, and told Jerry Falwell where he could shove it. Many in the jackbooted theocracy wing of the Republican Party still haven’t forgotten this obvious case of hatred for the entire Christian faith.

Ordinarily, I would add the effect of his “maverick” credentials coming from mild disagreements with a President that many of the Christian Right were repeatedly equating with Jesus. But now that Bush has again tepidly mentioned a two-state solution, many Christianists are stampeding away from such an anti-Israel “liberal.” Hm, I guess this is further evidence that #1 could work after all.


P O'Neill 01.30.08 at 1:43 pm

How excited were the movement conservatives when George W. Bush first ran? Remember this is the pre 9/11 Bush who had essentially two specific promises (a tax cut pledge stolen from Steve Forbes and education reform), a lot of guitar hero-style nods to republican obsessions of the time (e.g. opposition to nation building, judicial appointments) — but was also campaigning in ways that were seen as a break with the then dominant wing, at least rhetorically. “Compassionate conservatism” (= not like Newt), moving away from “politics of personal destruction” (=not Clinton-hating). Maybe they were happier when he brought Cheney on board so the more PNAC type agenda was on the inside. But back in the 1990s, they all thought it would be Jeb on top of the ticket, not the goofball Dubya.


abb1 01.30.08 at 1:59 pm

Nah, “politics of personal destruction” was Democrats’ refrain. Clenis-hating actually was a dominant theme in Bush campaign – “restoring honor and integrity to the Oval Office”.


rm 01.30.08 at 2:10 pm

25 has it right — when McCain was trying to get the nomination away from Bush in 2000 (and that alone is reason enough to hate him), the Christian Right attacked him in Virginia, and he called them intolerant and not representative of all Christians. For that, he is the Antichrist. I know, at the time an old man in my church stood up to give a devotion, and instead delivered a political rant about how we are now a godless nation because of this politician that don’t give two cents for any Christians anywhere. He was very, very upset. He really thought that’s what McCain said.

I think, also, there is the fact that in the 1980s, Vietnam veterans McCain and John Kerry brought closure to the Rambo myth — they verified that there were no POWs still left behind, and laid the groundwork for normal relations with Vietnam. For some, there are always living POWs abandoned, and there will never be closure. So, basically, sanity and seriousness in working on that cause (with Kerry, no less) is a perpetual disqualifier.

P. O’Neill, in 2000 among right-wing evangelicals, Bush was the next best thing to the Second Coming. So I don’t know how the “movement” felt if you mean the economic conservatives, but phrases like “compassionate conservative” were dog-whistles, and unlike today no one used the term “dog-whistle politics” or understood it. You had to be in touch with the subculture to see what he really meant. He always astounded me with his ability not only to be many things to many people (all pols do that) but to use THE EXACT SAME PHRASE to mean TWO OPPOSITE AND EXCLUSIVE THINGS to different parts of his audience. That was a very satanic, antichrist kind of skill if you think about things that way for a moment.


Matt McIrvin 01.30.08 at 2:12 pm

I think that McCain’s low reputation among hardcore conservatives, and the puzzling residual affection he gets from liberals and moderates, all comes down to memories of the 2000 primary campaign. McCain ran against Bush in 2000, and Democrats who hated Bush often crossed party lines in open primaries to vote for McCain (since there was no contest on the Democratic side anyway). Somehow McCain got a permanent reputation as the guy Democrats would vote for. It was all down to specifics of 2000, nothing rationally associated with McCain.


rm 01.30.08 at 2:13 pm

And yeah, I have to second abb1. The Clinton-hatred was red hot, but it was delivered with a smile. The theme was cleansing the moral filth.


Thomas 01.30.08 at 2:21 pm

Well, the Corner post is obvious hyperbole, the heated emotions of a lost campaign surfacing on election night.

McCain’s strength is his personal biography, which is what the Republicans will attempt to make the election about. (I think they won’t be successful; John Kerry was a war hero, and that was relevant to his qualifications, but Bob Dole wasn’t.)(The fact that they won’t be successful in the framing doesn’t mean I think he will lose.)

McCain’s weakness is that he seems to think that personal biography is the whole story. It doesn’t matter what he believes, but that he believes it.

The reason we saw all the Republican candidates trying to seize the Reagan mantle is that none of them, save perhaps Thompson, are Reaganite conservatives. But all of them are conservative is some relevant way, and that includes McCain. He’s not liberal, as most anyone at CT should recognize. (Many of the stupid things he says are liberal, such as his attacks on drug companies, or his continued support for limits on election-related speech.)

So the answer is that conservatives will support McCain on his biography, and as the better (less liberal) alternative.


abb1 01.30.08 at 2:39 pm


Boston, MA – Today, Bay Buchanan announced that she is endorsing Governor Mitt Romney for President of the United States. Buchanan most recently headed Congressman Tom Tancredo’s (R-CO) presidential campaign.

“I am proud to be supporting Governor Romney. Throughout this campaign, he has distinguished himself as the one Republican presidential candidate who not only speaks to the challenges confronting the American people, but can also win. He will secure the border, strengthen the economy and ensure that America remains strong. I believe that with Governor Romney’s vision, values and experience, our nation will be stronger for future generations,” said Bay Buchanan.

For ultra-nativist folks it’s all about the ‘amnesty’ for the ‘aliens’.


Rich B. 01.30.08 at 2:44 pm

To understand the opposition to McCain, you have to understand the difference between “Senator McCain” and “President McCain.” The following quote is also from the Corner, earlier this week, where Rick Santorum (extreme wingnut!) talks about why he can’t support McCain:

“I mean, this is a guy who says he believes in these things, but I can tell you, inside the room, when we were in these meetings, there was nobody who fought harder not to have these votes before the United States Senate on some of the most important social conservative issues, whether it’s marriage or abortion or the like. He always fought against us to even bring them up, because he was uncomfortable voting for them.”

So, McCain always voted “right” when there was a vote, but behind the scenes he was lobbying to not have the vote. You can understand why the Insiders wouldn’t want to elevate that “behind the scenes lobbying” to the White House. It’s not about the 0% NARAL rating, its about the fact that President McCain would get that 0% over much fewer votes because he would not focus on those issues.


Rich B. 01.30.08 at 2:47 pm

Also, I think I would consider myself part of the “Center Right” coalition were I to live in Europe. And that puts me pretty firmly within the mainsteam Democratic party here in America. I gave money to Bill Richardson in the primaries, and will un-reluctantly support Senator Clinton over Senator McCain if that is the general election match-up.


Grand Moff Texan 01.30.08 at 3:19 pm

Medved had said after McCain’s victory in South Carolina that it was a defeat for talk radio. Limbaugh et al. had been after McCain hammer and tongs. McCain won, they lost. A quick google blog search reveals an emerging conventional wisdom that McCain is somehow at odds with his party’s establishment. I’m not clear on why, but there you are.

For Limbaugh, the issue may be that he burned his boats back in 2000 (after a McCain primary victory that year, Limbaugh went after McCain for being crazy, etc., 24/7, in support of the beleaguered Bush campaign). So, while I’m inclined to agree with Seth Finkelstein at #1 just on principle, I think his take ignores the possibility of some very, very long grudges.

If the GOP really is going for McCain, I think that they’re Bob Doling themselves again, only this time throw in some steroids and chainsaws for good measure.


Grand Moff Texan 01.30.08 at 3:26 pm

Another clue from 2000: the post-mortem on the McCain candidacy eight years ago had to explain why he lost when he was so popular with the press (short answer: black love child + Bush aped his style).

The “style” that made him so popular with the press (and may still, if John King’s throne-sniffing over on CNN is any indication) consisted of two things:

1. virtually unlimited access for the press
2. virtually unlimited alcohol for the press

Atrios excerpted Tucker Carlson’s book Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites as follows:

McCain ran an entire presidential campaign aimed primarily at journalists. He understood that the first contest in a presidential race is always the media primary. He campaigned hard to win it. To a greater degree than any candidate in thirty years, McCain offered reporters the three things they want most: total access all the time, an endless stream of amusing quotes, and vast quantities of free booze.

I saw reporters call McCain “John,” sometimes even to his face and in public. I heard others, usually at night in the hotel bar, slip into the habit of referring to the Mccain campaign as “we”- as in, “I hope we kill Bush.” It was wrong, but it was hard to resist.


KCinDC 01.30.08 at 3:31 pm

Definitely #1. The Republican memory hole has been working overtime for years, and I don’t see any reason why that should change now.


Grand Moff Texan 01.30.08 at 3:36 pm

As for who will win, remember it’s just: Whoever is taller.

Except in 2000. And 2004.


rm 01.30.08 at 4:04 pm

grand moff, there’s your certain proof that those elections were stolen right there.


h. 01.30.08 at 4:18 pm

Does McCain have enough hair to be president, though? When was the last time a fairly bald guy was elected president? Since Ford wasn’t actually elected, I think you have to go back to Ike.


SomeGuy 01.30.08 at 4:26 pm

Why don’t you ask a self identifying conservative Republican who is slowly warming up to McCain?

I’ll do it for you.

Ok self, why are you warming up to McCain, and why has he been unpopular with so many conservatives, and why might so many conservatives be warming up to him?

Ok the reason he has been unpopular is the easy part. Look at jp’s comment and list.

He voted against Bush’s tax cuts.

He was pro campaign finance reform.

While pro-war he was a strong critic of Bush’s handling of the war.

He is against torture.

He is for amnesty.

Somewhat environmentally friendly. Admits global warming is an issue.

And some folks are still people confused about why some of the stupid conservative rubes are against McCain?

I guess some of the stupid conservative rubes might be mildly well informed about their own.

So why might I be warming up to McCain?

I like that he was against Bush’ Tax Cuts and I like that he is for them now.

McCain on tax cuts-

‘No, because I had significant tax cuts, and there was restraint of spending included in my proposal. I saw no restraint in spending. We presided over the greatest increase in the size of government since the Great Society. Spending went completely out of control. It’s still out of control. Wasteful earmark spending is a disgrace, and it caused us to alienate our Republican base.’

And I agree that cutting spending and not raising taxes is the best way out now.

I like that he is against torture.

Campaign finance is reform is already here.

I like that he is environmentally friendly.

No viable candidate is against the war in any way.

I am generally pro-immigration.

I like his f you to Falwell.

Why didn’t I like him in 2000? That piddling campaign finance stuff? What was I thinking? Why did I like Bush? Why make the same mistake again?

Why might more conservative Republicans like him?

He isn’t religious but his pro-life credentials are as good as anyone’s.

Aside from the above issues which are big issues his voting record in solidly conservative. Lifetime ACU rating of 82.3. Not bad.

I think a lot of more conservative Republicans would have preferred tax cuts and spending limits/cuts.

He is pro-war. And he was right Bush did F up the handling of the war.

Huckabee has no appeal besides look at me I am Christian like you.

Romney is a completely hollow and phony flip flopper . McCain isn’t. (Though that will be the liberal narrative.)

I maybe would have preferred Thompson but I might vote for McCain in the general election. (And I didn’t vote for Bush in 04.)

Conservatives really have a lot of different preference bundles not just two.


The Navigator 01.30.08 at 5:13 pm

To actually answer John Holbo’s question,

What will be the reason why McCain was obviously always the best man for the job?

the answer is: war.

Like Colt 45, it works every time. McCain always, always supported the war and always will. Considering that the GOP is going to try its damnedest to turn the fall election into Scareathon ’08, and try to get everyone to ignore the economy, the war will be front and center in talk show host minds, and soon the Limbaughs and the Hewitts and the Coulters will rediscover their inner Visigoths and lead the hosannahs for the Wounded Warrior who was Always Right about killing the Arabs.


Grand Moff Texan 01.30.08 at 5:16 pm

grand moff, there’s your certain proof that those elections were stolen right there.

Actually, it’s the full moons that convinced me.


abb1 01.30.08 at 5:33 pm

the answer is: war

As it stands now, you can’t win the general election on war. 10 months from now – I don’t know, anything can happen, but I doubt it. It has to be something other than the war.


Righteous Bubba 01.30.08 at 5:55 pm

It has to be something other than the war.

If we’re talking about Republican wisdom, why?


richard 01.30.08 at 6:23 pm

I have nothing useful to add, but abb1’s gun incense fee momentarily projected me into a happier place.

I find McCain distressing because I read Whatever It Is I’m Against It… but I guess that doesn’t work for Republicans.


abb1 01.30.08 at 6:38 pm

If we’re talking about Republican wisdom, why?

Because the goal is to win the general election. The question about “the reason why McCain was obviously always the best man for the job?” has to be answered in the context of the general election. And in that context “because he will keep fighting in Iraq even if it takes a hundred years” is not a good answer.


Righteous Bubba 01.30.08 at 6:47 pm

But we’re talking about the wisdom of the Republican solons who have to advance this guy as a candidate. Whatever the rubes perceive, the National Review and others are still going to write all about Islamofascists.


abb1 01.30.08 at 6:51 pm

Oh, you mean internally, between the wingnuts. Yeah, sure. The guy actually killed people by dropping bombs from an airplane and he liked it – how bad can he be.


Rick Massimo 01.30.08 at 6:57 pm

They’ll spend the general-election season trashing Hillary or Obama and never mention McCain. Remember, these are Republicans. They don’t think they have to explain what they will do. All they think they have to do, alcoholic-style, is scare people into thinking the alternative is worse.

Will it work? Probably not. And they know it. But McCain is this year’s Bob Dole. They figure they’re gonna lose, might as well throw whoever out there, then lay low for four or eight years. As Digby has written so eloquently, the way they work it doesn’t matter all that much whether they’re in charge.


socraticsilence 01.30.08 at 7:14 pm

Against Obama, I think the base might just be angry enough at Mccain to sit out, bu agisnt Hillary?! Are you kidding Tom Tancredo would vote a Illegal Immigrant president if it meant defeating Hillary, the average GOP base voter would honestly vote for Osama Bin Laden before sitting out and letting Hillary win.


SomeGuy 01.30.08 at 7:35 pm

Also you could actually read what the folks at NRO are saying.

Which not that suprisingly is McCain yeeeech, but hey he does have a lifetime ACU rating of 83%, he is good on Iraq, he isn’t Hilary, he is electable, and hey he isn’t Hilary, and did I mention he isn’t Hilary or Obama?

And the answer in a landside is

Folks closer to me will sport this type of bumper sticker

Vote America in 08. Vote McCain.

While the NRO guys look like they will have this type of bumper sticker.

With a big red circle and line

Hilary = Hitler = Fascism.

The scare will be Hilary instead of terrorists.

Or maybe Hilary in bed with the terrorists?


Martin James 01.30.08 at 8:23 pm

How McCain is perceived by the conservatives depends on how Clinton contrasts herself with him.

The best strategy may be for her to run to the RIGHT of McCain to avoid having the conservative base rally around him as the anti-Hillary.

She could come out and say, John and I have the same positions but I’m the better leader.


GreatZamfir 01.30.08 at 8:46 pm

Someguy, you explain quite well why you and some conservatives like McCain, but I don’t really get any wiser why a part of them seems to have serious trouble with him. Here’s your list, with some question why I don’t understand why they are big issues. I am not argueing or something, I really don’t understand:

He voted against Bush’s tax cuts.
Sure, but from a ‘keep the budget balanced’ POV. Here in Europe at least that’s easy to spin as a plus for conservatives, not a con.

He was pro campaign finance reform.
Why would people oppose this, at least openly? I can understand how party apparatchiks dislike this, but why would pundits on the web care about it?

While pro-war he was a strong critic of Bush’s handling of the war.
By now, that can hardly count against him. Sounds like pretty much the best position to appeal to hawkish people at this stage.

He is against torture.
I’ll leave this one.

He is for amnesty.
I thought Bush was too? Perhaps I am mistaken

Somewhat environmentally friendly. Admits global warming is an issue.
I understand why this might hurt his image

So, altogether I am still a bit in the dark. I see why they might prefer someone else, but he still appears as a very reasonable candidate, form a conservative point of view. Apparently he just doesn’t fit in or something.


Uncle Kvetch 01.30.08 at 9:22 pm

While pro-war he was a strong critic of Bush’s handling of the war.

No, sorry, that’s just not true. Here, as in so many other areas, McCain has effectively created a “maverick” image for himself that is completely at odds with the facts. And the media has been only too happy to help.

And that, of course, is the answer to the broader question here. For the McCain haters on the right, it’s all about perception. What McCain has done, the actual votes he’s cast and so forth, are irrelevant–it’s that he’s always managed to carve out this “independent” image for himself even while siding with the conservative base on almost every issue. As movement conservatism in the US shed all pretenses of consistency and coherence in favor of a cult of personality around Bush, McCain refused to play along. Of course it drove them bonkers.


david still 01.30.08 at 9:32 pm

McCain inherits the Ronnie mantle: both have alzheimers.


Righteous Bubba 01.31.08 at 6:43 am

He was pro campaign finance reform.
Why would people oppose this, at least openly? I can understand how party apparatchiks dislike this, but why would pundits on the web care about it?

If money is speech, limiting money is limiting speech.


abb1 01.31.08 at 7:14 am

If money is speech, limiting money is limiting speech.

That’s the talking point, yes; but why would someone who is neither rich nor a politician object to it and feel so strongly about it? Isn’t it another wingnut mystery?


Righteous Bubba 01.31.08 at 8:21 am

That’s the talking point, yes; but why would someone who is neither rich nor a politician object to it and feel so strongly about it? Isn’t it another wingnut mystery?

There are so many awful things to say in answer to this that my head’s asplodin.


Ken Houghton 01.31.08 at 2:26 pm

John McCain, he of the perfect (0%) NARAL rating “isn’t religious but his pro-life credentials are as good as anyone’s.” I seen the spin cycle is working full force. When he matches Angelina Jolie or M. L. Ciccone in adoptions, call again.

You’re all wrong, btw; it’s #2. Already started with his immigration stance.


Jeff R. 01.31.08 at 11:35 pm

It’s not the money limits in the campaign finance reform that are the big problem, it’s the bits banning third party ads during the late weeks of the campaign. That kind of contempt for the first amendment (what, pray, could it possibly protect if it doesn’t protect, you know, actual political speech), and the rational expectation that any judges he appoints would tend to share that contempt, is the biggest problem with McCain from the neolibertarian wing of the party…


TCO 02.03.08 at 6:10 pm

Commenter number 2 is right. (Anythiung better than a Democrap.) That is what the party will go in with and that is what some of the more hackish Repug types will tout (also the judges concern).

But a lot of the base (like me) will stay home with McCain. Actually I’m thinking about staying home regardless. Still so pissed at George Bush.


TCO 02.03.08 at 6:12 pm

Q: That’s the talking point, yes; but why would someone who is neither rich nor a politician object to it and feel so strongly about it? Isn’t it another wingnut mystery?

A: Because I’m pro free speech even in cases where it does not directly affect me. Just like I’m pro lower taxes, even on brackets above mine, etc. etc. It’s a principle, not a bought vote.

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