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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Open Topic Sunday ... Senator John McCain

It is time we took a more focused look at Senator MCain, especially as the New York Times seems fit to "pimp" him this morning. This is not an editorial below, but a news report of his activities this past week, and his continued attempt to slide a little closer to us on the starboard side of the ideological spectrum. (I will be kibitzing a bit in this, but I will save the majority of my commentary for the end.)

Senator John McCain began his week by embracing the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the conservative religious leader he once denounced as polarizing. He ended it by joining Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal Massachusetts icon, in a fight for an immigration bill opposed by many conservatives.

Mr. McCain has long sought to present himself as a singular sort of American politician — straight-talking, iconoclastic and hard to quantify. But as he began a campaign-style trip here that will take him through Florida, Ohio and Iowa, he faced an extraordinarily complex political challenge as he sought to reconcile his appeals to an unusually diverse audience and cement his early standing in the emerging Republican presidential field.

Mr. McCain's alliance with Mr. Kennedy comes as he has embarked on a campaign to repair strains with conservatives and a once-wary Bush White House. He is portraying himself as a lifelong conservative and a steadfast supporter of President Bush, once a political rival, courting his senior staff members and fund-raisers.

The attempt to reconcile himself with the conservative base has a funny launch point as he joined with not only Ted Kennedy, but a host of Democrats and moderate Republicans this week in an attempt to "compromise" in illegal immigration. Many voters realize that the here and now is where this battle is going to be fought. And I do not think we have to remind anyone that the base has its mind set on a singular task. Fix the problem, and the compromise that was offered and killed was no fix. The base saw that. Even as the politicos lined up to pat themselves on the back, bloggers were out and about, and tearing the compromise to shreds. The next day, the measure failed.

He has endorsed Bush tax cuts he once criticized as fiscally ruinous, and he agreed to appear at a commencement at Liberty University, headed by Mr. Falwell, whom Mr. McCain once called an agent of "intolerance."

And there is another problem with Senator McCain. Nowadays, he seems to be flip-flopping as much as John Kerry did. And we know it is in the attempt to appeal to the conservative base. And while that may be "good thing" for him, it is not for the base. Senator McCain is a good American. We will not tarnish his record in Vietnam, as so many of his detractors wish to do. That is something that others will have to bring up. But we will openly admit that he stinks as a politician, he sucks at representing the state of Arizona, and he is absolutely abhorrant in representing the values of the conservative movement.

But a strategy designed to muscle him through the 2008 Republican primaries — should he ultimately run, which aides says is likely but not definite — risks diluting the independent image that has been central to his political appeal. Already, Mr. McCain is facing stiff questions from supporters and critics about how far he will go to win support from conservative leaders who have long been wary of him.
"You're killing me here," Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, said after introducing Mr. McCain as one of his favorite guests earlier this week. "You're not freaking out on us — are you going into crazy-base world?"

After the reference to his appeal to the party's conservative base, a laughing Mr. McCain responded, "I'm afraid so."

"Crazy base world?" Now what the Hell does that mean? The base is not "crazy." It is not even close to being as mentally questionable as the Democrat's base is. He is trying to pull a Hillary; that is to paint himself in a vastly different light compared to what we have seen over the last few years.

In an interview at his Senate office, where he had urged a reporter to watch the Stewart interview on an office computer, Mr. McCain said that he had not changed any position for political reasons, and that he was more conservative than his occasional high-profile breaks with the right might lead casual observers to believe.

But unbidden, he acknowledged the danger of the perception that he had become politically expedient. Mr. McCain said there was "much increased sensitivity for me not to display traces of hypocrisy" because of the way he had defined himself.

"I would argue that I have not changed any of my positions, and if I did really change my positions on issues, that I would lose what is probably one of the greatest attractions that people have for me, and that is as a person who stands up for what he believes in," Mr. McCain said, appearing subdued during a break from the debate on his immigration bill. "But you know, I understand why some people would say, 'Wow!' when they hear that I'm speaking at Liberty University."

"I've always been a conservative," he said. "I think my voting record clearly indicates that on economic issues, national security issues, social issues — I'm pro-life — so I think I could make an argument I've had a pretty clear 20-some-year record basically being conservative."

Mr. McCain's associates said it would be nearly impossible to win the nomination without quelling concern among conservatives who, even before his immigration bill — over which he was attacked by Republicans at two town hall meetings he held during his 24 hours here — were concerned by his advocacy for campaign finance laws, a global warming treaty and gun control.

A critical part of Mr. McCain's strategy to win the nomination is to persuade conservatives to swallow concerns about those views by presenting himself as the most electable Republican because of his appeal to moderates and independents. That distinction could fade should Mr. McCain emerge with a lasting reputation as conservative or hypocritical, his advisers said.

If he has not changed his positions, as Mr. McCain repeatedly insisted in an interview, he has at the very least changed the coloring of how he has presented himself to the public.

After denouncing Mr. Bush's tax cuts when they were first proposed, he voted in favor of making them permanent. He spoke approvingly of a South Dakota law that would prohibit virtually all
abortions, part of an effort by abortion opponents to prod the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, though he said it should include an exemption for rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother.

He said schools should be allowed to offer "intelligent design" courses as an alternative to evolution, a huge issue for many conservatives. And he accepted the invitation to speak at the Liberty University commencement by Mr. Falwell, saying he saw no difference between that and accepting an invitation from
Bob Kerrey, the former senator from Nebraska, to speak at the New School, where Mr. Kerrey is president.

"Rev. Falwell came to see me and said he wanted to put our issues behind us — and I did, too," Mr. McCain said. "I believe the worst thing you can do in life, much less politics, is to hold grudges."
That explanation did not go over especially well with people who came to hear him speak this weekend.

"This is a radical religious movement that Jerry Falwell is part of," Silas Bennett, 27, a student at Keene State College, said in challenging Mr. McCain's explanation Saturday morning. "Don't you think that legitimizes the movement?"

Mr. McCain responded: "We have an honest difference of opinion of that, quote, movement. Christian conservatives are a part of the Republican Party."

But Mr. McCain's reconciliation campaign has had some success with conservative leaders. Mr. Falwell spoke warmly of Mr. McCain, saying he was as conservative on social issues as any Republican who might run for president.

"I've felt since I first knew about him that he stood on the right side of the ball on social issues," Mr. Falwell said. "I don't think he has changed his views. He is certainly pro-life. He clearly is an advocate of the husband-female family, he does not support same-sex marriage. I know of no reason I could not support him."

Other conservatives expressed reservations about his politics and sincerity.

"His challenge is that having been a Reagan Republican on taxes, guns and Kyoto, and having left that, and now thinking about coming back — he's got to overcome the original sense of betrayal and the new sense of flip-flopping," said Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform. "This is not easy. You can't be the straight-talk express with two positions on every given issue."

Taxes, guns, Kyoto, torture, judical appointees, immigration, the war; his "Mouseketeer" roll-call of issues is a long one, and he has been wrong on every single occasion. He has moderated his views so much that he is finding it very tough indeed to reconcile with the base. He knows he is in a load of trouble from them because he has heard it. He has heard it from people far and wide when he decides to rush off to the cameras and the microphones, and leave his constitutents behind. THIS will be the stake in the heart for him.

Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council and a former adviser to Mr. McCain, disputed any suggestion that Mr. McCain was trying to repackage his political product.

"Neither the right nor the left understands him," Mr. Wittmann said. "He's always had unconventional alliances. It's just now the left doesn't like the alliances he's making when in the past they would have approved of them."

"If John McCain had been elected in 2000," he continued, "he would likely have been as conservative or more conservative than President Bush."

This is a point I cannot pass up. Yes, it should be admitted by the Republican base that President Bush is not a conservative in the mold of Reagan, but more like FDR. Like FDR, President Bush has had to deal with a war he did not want to contend with. And like FDR, he has spent his fair share of taxpayer dollars. Furthermore, some of the president's decisions have been controversial, just like FDR. But to state that Senator McCain would have been more conservative than President Bush is a stretch. The senator from Arizona was for Kyoto; President Bush was against it. McCain stood against the tax cuts that President Bush proposed. Despite laws already being on the books, Senator McCain "redefined" torture; a move the president did not welcome, and effectively overruled. Conservatism is not a strong point of Senator McCain.

On a second front, after a famously rancorous primary battle with Mr. Bush in 2000, Mr. McCain has made a methodical effort to rebuild his standing with the Bush family. It started in 2004, when he latched himself to Mr. Bush's side, and has continued this year with his defense of an increasingly isolated Mr. Bush on the war in Iraq and the proposed Dubai ports deal.

Last week, Mr. McCain went to Texas to speak at a program sponsored by the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, where he offered effusive praise of the president's mother and father, who were beaming at his side.

Two of Mr. Bush's senior campaign advisers — Mark McKinnon, his media consultant, and Terry Nelson, his political director — are now advising Mr. McCain. Tom Loeffler, a former Texas congressman and one of the prime fund-raisers for President Bush and his father, is now raising money for Mr. McCain.

Over the past year, Mr. McCain has been getting advice from Mark Wallace, who was deputy campaign manager for Mr. Bush's campaign in 2004, and last week, he and his senior adviser, John Weaver, took Marc Racicot, who was chairman of the Bush 2004 campaign, to lunch as part of an effort to recruit him.

As he campaigned through New Hampshire this weekend, Mr. McCain seemed almost to enjoy the complicated road he was following: defending his immigration bills against an angry challenge from a former Republican state representative from North Hampton one moment, and saying that Mr. Bush had not been given the credit he deserved for the roaring economy the next.

"I think a lot of people don't exactly get where I'm at," he said.

I am not trying to psycho-analyze "Captain Queeg." (That comes from my brilliant better half who nicknamed him that after his 2000 meltdown in South Carolina.) But I am saying that despite him being a good American, he is a lousy politician. He cannot be trusted to sit with the rest of the GOP. Yes, more often than not, he gets his votes and support right. But it is the times where he goes hunting for his strawberries that people remember. The Gang of 14 deal, the immigration compromise, speaking out against tax cuts, shouting that we need more troops in Iraq, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

And if John McCain thinks that he can make it through the campaign, and come out on top, he shouldseriously think again. The MSM is going to heap praise, do fawning profiles of him, and point to his "straight-talk" attitude. They will bring up his "maverick" side which occasionally pits him against his GOP allies. They will do everything they can to help his Hillary-esque makeover. But it is not going to work. Not even ABC's "Extreme Makeover" can make John McCain anything more than what he is.

He is selfish, self-centered, narcissistic, and one of the biggest media whores that politics has ever seen. This man, at times, I feel purposefully rankles the GOP's base. It is almost as if he is telling the base that we need to moderate ourselves to be more like him. Like Hell. We are not simply going to toss aside this man's transgressions. He has sided with the party on key issues, like the war, yet he sought a way to undercut the president's Constitutional powers. To John McCain, it is all about him, and not about America. And that is what will be reflected in the presidential primaries that are coming up.

The Bunny ;)


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