More than a few times recently I have heard presidential wannabe John “100 Years War” McCain referred to on TV talk shows as a “moderate.” But as the Associated Press points out in a revealing and long-overdue report today, “The likely Republican presidential nominee is much more conservative than voters appear to realize. McCain leans to the right on issue after issue, not just on the Iraq war but also on abortion, gay rights, gun control and other issues that matter to his party’s social conservatives.”
The news service highlights McCain’s right-of-center positions on all of those issues:
Abortion. “McCain promises to appoint judges who, in the mold of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, are likely to limit the reach of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.” (More on this from Salon.)
Gay rights. “McCain opposes gay marriage. True, he does not support a federal ban on gay marriage on grounds the issue traditionally has been decided by states. But McCain worked to ban gay marriage in Arizona. He also supports the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, and he opposed legislation to protect gay people from job discrimination or hate crimes.”
Gun control. “McCain voted against a ban on assault-style weapons and for shielding gun-makers and dealers from civil suits.” (More on this from The Huffington Post.)
War on Iraq. McCain “criticized the earlier handling of the war but has been a crucial ally in President Bush’s effort to increase and maintain U.S. forces in Iraq.” Perhaps most importantly, McCain has already endorsed keeping U.S. soldiers fighting--and dying--in Iraq for the next century, if that’s what it takes to avoid conceding that Bush shouldn’t have taken the United States into that conflict in the first place. (Interestingly, though, McCain has flip-flopped on this issue, and contradicted himself on the advisability of a U.S. long-term involvement in Iraq.)
Why, after all of this, voters would ever characterize McSame as a centrist, or Democrats (upset in the end by either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama failing to win their party’s presidential nomination) would even think to cast their ballots for such an obvious right-winger is bewildering. It can only be attributed to repeated media misrepresentation of McCain’s views, or a collective relativism that considers this elderly Arizonan to be a moderate only because he isn’t as much of a knee-jerk wingnut as, say, ex-Senate majority leader Bill Frist or disgraced former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay. Or perhaps people think he must be a centrist, because he was once willing to ditch the GOP and caucus with Democrats as an independent?
The facts show that Republican’t McCain is no centrist at all. He’s just a much older and angrier, if perhaps slightly less incompetent right-winger than George W. Bush, a thoroughgoing politician ready to say anything (even if he conflicts his previous positions) in order to be elected. And who would trust someone like that in the White House again? Haven’t Americans sacrificed enough national standing abroad and lost enough faith in their government during Bush Jr.’s reign? Have we not been fooled badly enough already by poseur centrists?
READ MORE: “John McCain’s Bad Week,” by Joan Walsh (Salon); “Lingering Problems on McCain’s Far-Right Flank,” by Steve Benen (The Carpetbagger Report).