"Q: Finally, you talked a little bit about Senator Obama today, you said he was the most extreme member of the Senate...
McCain: Yeah, that's his voting record.
Q: Extreme? You really think he's an extremist? I mean, he's clearly liberal...
McCain: That's his voting record. All I said was his voting record -- and that is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Q: Do you think he's a socialist, Barack Obama?
McCain: Oh, I don't know. All I know is his voting record, and that's what people usually judge their elected representatives by. But I know this too: that Senator Obama has not done what I've done. He has not reached across the aisle to work in a bipartisan fashion. I have. I have. And if you have an extreme voting record, it's hard to do that. And finally, Senator Obama, obviously, supported amendments that would have killed comprehensive immigration reform. Then he says that he's for immigration reform.
Q: But you flip-flop a little bit too.
McCain: No, I didn't.
Q: You flip-flop on drilling, on tax cuts...
McCain: Actually, I didn't. Actually, on the drilling issue, when gasoline reached $4 a gallon, we've got to do things that we otherwise haven't done in the past. I have not changed my mind on any other issue. On immigration, I said we need comprehensive immigration reform, it failed twice, so we've got to do what's going to succeed.
Q: But you were against the tax cuts, now you're talking about making them permanent. Isn't there flip-flopping on both sides?
McCain: Actually, no. Actually, I had a tax cut proposal of my own. Senator Obama wants to raise taxes; I want to keep them low. Somebody who wants higher taxes, I'm not your candidate. Senator Obama is. I had a package of tax cuts, and I said we had to restrain spending. We did not restrain spending, and therefore we now have the mess that we're in. We had to restrain spending. That's the main reason why I voted against them, and I had a large package of tax cuts myself, and I have voted for tax cuts in the past, and Senator Obama wants to raise them. I've heard a lot of this propaganda, and I understand what campaigns are about, and all of the back and forth, but I'll stand on my record of bipartisan effectiveness for American, and putting my country first."
This has to set some sort of new McCain record for dishonesty. Details below the fold.
The "most extreme voting record" stuff is presumably based on the National
Review Journal's (oops!) claim that he was the most liberal member of the Senate in 2007. One crucial fact about those rankings: they consider the percentage of the votes a Senator actually cast, as opposed to the number of (allegedly) liberal votes cast. I'll outsource the explanation of why this matters to Steve Benen:
"Obama was the 16th most liberal senator in 2005, and the 10th most liberal in 2006, before racing to the front of the pack in 2007. National Journal suggests this has something to do with Obama moving to the left to curry favor with Democratic primary voters.
But there’s a more logical explanation: Obama missed a whole lot of votes in 2007 — he’s been on the campaign trail — but was on the floor for many of the biggest, most consequential votes. In nearly every instance, he voted with the party. And with that, voila! The most liberal senator in America."
Obama is a socialist: well, not if you have any clue what 'socialism' means. Wikipedia:
"Socialism refers to any of various economic and political concepts of state or collective (i.e. public) ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods and services."
Noticed Obama trying to nationalize any industries lately? Funny, neither have I. And I have examined his voting record fairly closely -- the voting record McCain claims he's talking about.
Obama hasn't "reached across the aisle to work in a bipartisan fashion": that would be news to Richard Lugar, Tom Coburn, and others. Actually, why not quote Lugar himself, from ust a few days ago:
"Republican Sen. Dick Lugar (IN) today said an Obama campaign ad which features him is "accurate." The ad makes the point the Obama previously "reached out" to Lugar to "help lock down loose nuclear weapons."
Lugar is widely considered one of the most knowledgeable in the area of nuclear weapons proliferation and the coauthored of the 1991 Nunn-Lugar Act on cooperative threat reduction.
"He did" reach out, Lugar said. He explained that in 2005, Obama asked if he could join Lugar on a trip to Russia and other countries to visit sites under the Nunn-Lugar program.
"After that, we had legislation that we cosponsored together which passed" dealing with dangerous missiles. "So I am pleased we had that opportunity to work together," Lugar said. "I'm pleased we had the association Sen. Obama describes.""
I assume that when McCain says that Obama "supported amendments that would have killed comprehensive immigration reform", he's referring to Obama's support for the amendment that would have sunsetted the guest worker program after five years. (Obama missed the vote on the amendment that would have killed the guest worker program, .) There are a lot of principled reasons for opposing that program, like not wanting to create a legally sanctioned group of people who work for us but lack the rights of citizens. And lots of people who agree that guest worker programs are wrong also support comprehensive immigration reform. (Me, for instance.)
The only way to read the fact that Obama supported that amendment as conflicting with his claim to support comprehensive immigration reform is if you assume that nothing other than the bill in the Senate in 2007 could possibly constitute "comprehensive immigration reform": that unless you supported that specific bill, as it stood, you cannot claim to support comprehensive immigration reform. But that is, frankly, ridiculous.
"I have not changed my mind on any other issue." Hahahahahaha!!!! That's a good one, John McCain! Really had me going there!
Oh, wait: he was serious?
Steve Benen's list of McCain flipflops now has 63 items. Some of them are quite important. On tax cuts in particular: note that McCain's stated reason for opposing Bush's tax cuts in the past was that, as he says here, spending was out of control. You'd think that the fact that the deficit has ballooned since 2001 and 2003, when he opposed the tax cuts as too costly, might lead him to be all the more opposed to them now. But not at all: the fact that the problem he saw with those tax cuts has gotten drastically worse, and so he no longer opposes them! The Washington Post:
"Now that he is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, however, McCain is marching straight down the party line. The economic package he has laid out embraces many of the tax policies he once decried: extending Bush's tax cuts he voted against, offering investment tax breaks he once believed would have little economic benefit and granting the long-held wishes of tax lobbyists he has often mocked.
McCain's concerns -- about budget deficits, unanticipated defense costs, an Iraq war that would be longer and more costly than advertised -- have proved eerily prescient, usually a plus for politicians who are quick to say they were right when others were wrong. Yet McCain appears determined to leave such predictions behind.
"He's looking forward, not back," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior policy adviser."
That would be one way to describe McCain's change of heart. Grover Norquist is blunter:
"Sen. John McCain, who has consistently opposed President Bush's tax cuts, recently voted to extend some of them, a move conservatives say is a political flip-flop intended to further his White House ambitions. (...)
His vote was a sharp departure from his anti-tax-cut posture. However, he has been aggressively reaching out to the Republican Party's conservative base, particularly economic conservatives who fear that as president, he would oppose further tax reductions and might even roll back some of the Bush cuts to shrink budget deficits.
While supply-side tax cutters say they welcomed his latest vote, they thought it was solely for political reasons.
"It's a big flip-flop, but I'm happy he's flopped," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
"It looks like a further morphing of McCain into George W. Bush. He's mailing to his list of campaign contributors, and now he's supporting the tax cuts," said economist Larry Hunter, a longtime Republican tax-cut strategist.
"It looks political to me. It runs counter to his whole past behavior. He's got to appeal to the base of the party. I don't think there is a Republican in the land who can get the nomination who voted against the tax cuts," said Mr. Hunter, now a senior fellow at the Policy Institute for Innovation. (...)
When Mr. Bush's $1.35 trillion tax-cut bill, the centerpiece of his economic agenda, came up for a final vote in May 2001, Mr. McCain was one of two Senate Republicans to vote "no."
"I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief," he said at the time.
When the president's $350 billion tax-cut bill that accelerated his earlier tax cuts came up for a vote in May 2003, Mr. McCain voted against that, too, saying he was "very concerned about the deficit."
"He voted against tax cuts in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005, and this year he's for the tax cuts in the reconciliation bill. It looks like he did it for political reasons," Mr. Norquist said. "He's got two years to convince people that this is not a political ploy but a 'Road to Damascus' realization that tax cuts are a good idea.""
The idea that this was not a change of position is just ludicrous. But not as ludicrous as the idea that he hasn't changed his position on any issue besides offshore oil drilling.
I mean: this is just flat-out lying. Which is, unfortunately, what I've come to expect from the Straight Talker.
UPDATE: Oops, almost forgot to address this: "Senator Obama wants to raise taxes; I want to keep them low. Somebody who wants higher taxes, I'm not your candidate. Senator Obama is."
The correct version is: somebody who wants lower taxes, and is making less than $237,040: Senator Obama is your man. All those people -- 95% of taxpayers -- do better under Obama's plan than McCain's. See here for details, or consult this handy chart: