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August 30, 2009

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From the link...

"[H]e's just another far-right senator, with precious little to say that couldn't have been predicted in an advance."
To see McCain as far-right, you would have to view him from the far-left. He might make a far-right Democrat. There's a reason he's called a RINO.

CharlesWT,

not that i put much stock in the National Journal's rankings, but they do list McCain as the 17th most conservative Senator (07. he doesn't appear in their 08 list).

--

remember when McCain ran around for three weeks complaining how Obama was the "celebrity" candidate? yeah. good times.

What's the complaint? After the 2004 election, Kerry was on all the Sunday shows week after week... oh, wait, he wasn't.

"To see McCain as far-right, you would have to view him from the far-left. He might make a far-right Democrat."

Yeah. We're talking about a Senator who was widely known to be seriously considering http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/democrats-say-mccain-nearly-abandoned-gop-2007-03-28.html>jumping to the Democratic party only a few years ago, whose big claim to fame is having been the Republican vote for all sorts of Democratic "bipartisan" bills widely opposed by his own party.

Anybody who wants the Republican nomination has to claim to be a conservative, but that claim rings pretty hollow for McCain. Takes a pretty skewed view of the political spectrum to paint McCain as far-right. Far-out-for-himself, maybe, but that's almost everybody in Washington.

cleek,

When I look at the National Journal's 2007 Vote Ratings, it appears that McCain was too busy doing other things to have a rateable voting record. The 2006 Vote Ratings ranks him 46 out of 55 Republican senators.

Eh. At least half the people they have on those shows every week are going to be Republicans. McCain is one of the few of them that is house-broken, so it's not hard to see why he keeps getting invited back.

If I had my druthers, we'd see more of the likes of Jim Inhofe and Jeff Sessions, not less, so viewers could practically taste the true, undiluted essence of the GOP.

Eh. At least half the people they have on those shows every week are going to be Republicans.

that would be nice, if it happened.


We're talking about a Senator who was widely known to be seriously considering jumping to the Democratic party only a few years ago

but it doesn't sound like it was for ideological reasons, rather for spite over losing to W. McCain would be utterly despised as a Democrat.

Yes, I think spite has been a bigger motivator for McCain than ideology, at least in recent years. Look at the way he's been voting since the election. He's no longer burnishing his conservative credentials to be a presidential candidate, yet his voting record is all about sticking it to Obama, abandoning any pretense of the maverick persona he adopted for a while in the past. His vote against Sotomayor was particularly unprincipled, since he used to be one of those senators who thought presidents should get their appointees except in truly extraordinary circumstances.

My sense is that McCain has very little interest in policy; that his instincts are pretty conservative; but that being thought of (mainly by people like Cokie Roberts) as some sort of Person Worth Taking Seriously matters more to him. To this end, he will periodically do something to demonstrate that he's willing to Be Bipartisan, Take On The Big Issues, etc.

But I've never seen much evidence that he either understands or cares about the legislation he endorses, or even writes, in the course of striking this pose. (Remember: this is the guy who as best anyone could tell didn't understand what cap and trade was, despite having been the GOP sponsor for a major cap and trade bill.) Likewise, nothing about his 2008 race suggested that he was deeply committed to actual bipartisanship and decency. I imagine him as having some instincts in that direction, with his legendary temper cutting against them; but they're nothing he won't throw overboard for even minor political advantage.

I assume the exception to this was the legislation on Vietnam POWs. But that's one piece of legislation.

"To see McCain as far-right, you would have to view him from the far-left. He might make a far-right Democrat. There's a reason he's called a RINO."

Let's look at McCain's ranks on Kieth Poole's voteview.com. You can start with http://voteview.com/sen110

Congress Rank (1 = most liberal)
110th 90
109th 100
108th 96
107th 57

Poole calls the 110th the most polarized Senate since Reconstruction, so being the 90th most liberal Senator is being pretty conservative. McCain's rank in the 107th Senate is a iffy, given the error data Poole reports.

Now I don't necessarily want to put a lot of weight on Poole's methodolgy--though go have a look at it. But calling McCain "far right" isn't crazy, and it isn't looking at the world with ideological blinders.

"But calling McCain "far right" isn't crazy, and it isn't looking at the world with ideological blinders."
If McCain is "far right," then all those Republican senators to the right of him must be Attila The Hun clones.

Of the 40 votes tracked by the ACLU since the 107th Congress, McCain has cast the ACLU's preferred vote just seven times. Lets have a look at those votes.

(1 and 2) Torture prevention and reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act--passed the senate with 90+ votes, and can hardly be held against McCain's conservative bona fides.
(3) Vote for an amendment to a lobbying bill; the amendment was supported by more Republicans than Democrats.
(4) Adding privacy protections to a worker database used to fight illegal immigration; drew the support of 15 other Republican Senators, including Sam Brownback.
(5) Vote against the secrecy of the intelligence budget; joined by 17 other Republicans, including John Cornyn.
(6 and 7) Twice voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. The only votes tracked by the ACLU that might be made out as liberal.

Not to encourage derailment via pedantic digression, but McCain is not what I'd call "far-right". He's an opportunist -- no more, no less. He's also (IMO) a major-league asshole.

From my experience, both the left and right tend to agree on the last point.

If McCain is "far right," then all those Republican senators to the right of him must be Attila The Hun clones.

No argument here.

"Of the 40 votes tracked by the ACLU since the 107th Congress, McCain has cast the ACLU's preferred vote just seven times."

Of course, that fails to account for the fact that, on occasion, he voted against the ACLU in alliance with the Democratic party. It's not like voting with the ACLU is an exclusive Democratic preserve.

Charles,

I think the Republican Party is a right-wing Statist organization. (Go read your Austrian Economist!) Many of America's right-wing political organizations, imagined that they were "anti-state" and liberals-leftists were “statists" or at least pro-gummint. This myth helped reactionaries and right-wing nationalists parade their views as "anti-state" while the whole time they were advancing right-wing statist views. The U.S. is still part of the Western tradition, (I think?), and the political theories developed within this culture would place the Republican Party in the traditional role of defending ethnocentric nationalism or ethno-religious nationalism, whatever, but that group of right-wingers is not considered “moderate.”

someotherdude,

I pretty much agree with you.

"Far right" may not be the best description of John McCain, but it's a hell of a lot more accurate than the constant descriptions of Howard Dean as "far left".

I can't believe all but two posts on this thread are about whether or not McCain is "far right" or not, which, if you ask me, is a completely irrelevant point -- positions ought to be judged on their own merits, and ideology is, IMO, has outgrown the "left/right" spectrum.

The real issue here: that even back in 1787, the current senior senator from Arizona was apparently important enough to get a mention in our founding document.

Which pretty much clinches it: John McCain is the hightlander!

He votes with his party 98% of the time. Some maverick.

He's against letting anyone else enjoy the government health insurance he's had every single day of his life, from the day he was born. Out there telling us how terrible it is.

"Statist" is this week's buzzword, a new way for right wing fake "intellectuals" to seize the debate by changing the terms and hijacking the language of the debate. A new, strange, sinister sounding term they can decorate with aspersions like a Christmas tree, and accuse liberals of being- a "statist!".

Sounds and looks like "Stalinist". But it's funny, you'd think if anyone would be accused of being a "statist"- which is a shitty, half-assed word made up by gasbags, not anything recognizable to public discourse or common understanding in the US in the last fifty years, or ever- well how about those who've been so loud about "State's Rights!" ?

You know, those viciously opposed to civil rights? Asserting their right to keep the black man down? If only liberals were so clever as to seize a new word to slap on their opponents.

"Statist" is suddenly everywhere these days. And I assure you that when I see you say it, I think less of you. People who want the government to yes, help break the stranglehold insurance companies have on our lives and health, for maximum profit. People who want reform are now accused of being "statists" lately.

Yes, we look to the State. We look to the President we voted for. I suppose we should look to Superman, at this point. IGMFU, right? How dare citizens look to the State for some relief from those benevolent corporations bleeding the middle class dry! Why, they're "statists"! Nice bleary abstraction of actual suffering and want in our land of the allegedly free.

There can be only one!

Sorry -- I meant to say:

"There can be only one!"

"Yes, I think spite has been a bigger motivator for McCain than ideology, at least in recent years. Look at the way he's been voting since the election. He's no longer burnishing his conservative credentials to be a presidential candidate, yet his voting record is all about sticking it to Obama, abandoning any pretense of the maverick persona he adopted for a while in the past."

In light of McCain's post 2008 election behavior I am wondering how much of McCain's widely touted post-2000 bipartisanship was of a similar character - working with the Dems in the Senate was his way of sticking the shiv in GWB after the rancor of the 2000 GOP primaries. It seems like the best way to describe McCain's ideology is egomaniacal sore-loserdom which is conservative when he doesn't have a personal axe to grind with somebody.

I don't recollect Barry Goldwater being that way after 1964, but perhaps my memory is defective.

"It seems like the best way to describe McCain's ideology is egomaniacal sore-loserdom which is conservative when he doesn't have a personal axe to grind with somebody."

I'd tend to agree with that, with the proviso that "when he doesn't have a personal axe to grind with somebody" is little enough of the time that we really don't have a statistically significant sample of his behavior at such times.

I wish Presidents Kerry and Gore got as much Sunday morning TV time as does President McCain.

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