Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

STRAIGHT TALKIN' JOHN....In the past, campaign finance reform has been spearheaded by four men: John McCain, Russ Feingold, Martin Meehan, and Christopher Shays. Suddenly, one of them is missing in action:

On Wednesday, [Feingold, Meehan, and Shays] introduced a bill to revive the crumbling system for public financing of presidential campaigns. The bill is largely identical to a measure all four men introduced in 2003, but this time around Mr. McCain is not on board.

A spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, Eileen McMenamin, did not return calls seeking comment for this article, but several people involved in discussions about the legislation said the senator's absence was related to his widely expected bid for the presidency in 2008.

Can we start keeping score on the number of positions that Mr. Straight Talk has abandoned now that he thinks he has a serious shot at the presidency? First there was his pandering to Jerry Falwell, then his cave-in on torture (see here and here), and now this. And the election is still two years away. Which position do you think he'll throw overboard next?

Kevin Drum 3:42 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

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Comments

Maybe the Mitch McConnell Mafia got to him on this one.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 28, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

maybe he's still talkin' straight -- just in the opposite direction.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on July 28, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I need a little more help on this. I think the shots against McCain are justified, but I am not sure how to read this one. Has he dropped his support because the bill, if passed might help his opponents or is he concerned that supporting a bill that he might take advantage of down the road would appear to some as a conflict of interest? Obviously Feingold does not see it that way, but I am not sure I really understand McCain's supposed rationale.

Posted by: terry on July 28, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Can we start keeping score on the number of positions that Mr. Straight Talk has abandoned now that he thinks he has a serious shot at the presidency?

What's stopping the Washington Monthly from doing just that?

You've got the server and the web audience.

Hell, why not hire some interns like Josh Micah Marshall to create and maintain it?

Posted by: koreyel on July 28, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

If JMc continued to push CFR for '08, any GOP support would be DOA.

lol

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on July 28, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Has the Maveric turned into a circus pony?

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 28, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

He watched GWB beat him last time around via lies, distortions, shallowness and every kind of nasty politics in Karl Rove's playbook.

Maybe he's decided he needs to be much less of a man to win the Presidency.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on July 28, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Can we just change McCain's last name to McCraven?

Posted by: Robert on July 28, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Which position do you think he'll throw overboard next?

He'll oppose Affirmative Action for is illegitimate black baby?

Posted by: enozinho on July 28, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Can we start keeping score on the number of positions that Mr. Straight Talk has abandoned

Sure, but as Greg Sargent has been documenting, just because a narrative is demonstrably false is no reason for the So-Called "Liberal Media" to drop it.

Posted by: Gregory on July 28, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Probably torture, after all he is willing to compromise on so many of his other "personal convictions".

And to think I used to actually believe he was a straight talker.

Posted by: Dreggas on July 28, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

McCain was never really a straight talker. It was all a campaign device. He talks a big game, but doesn't deliver. In fact, he often doesn't try or puts on a fake show of trying.

He was also against the Bush tax cuts before he was against them.

Posted by: gq on July 28, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm already keeping score! I call this series "John McCain, Just Another Politician" (Part N in an unending series).

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot on July 28, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's halo can come off as quickly as Lieberman's has. Remember those 80% approval ratings in CT? Amazing how they vanished once people started pressing.

Potemkin villages are exposed pretty quickly once you shine the light around the corner. But you got to shine the light brightly around the corner.

And that's been the biggest weakness of the Democrats in the last 8 years: the unwillingness to shine the light around the corner. Examples: Bush's ignorance in 2000, the corrupt scandals in 2002, Iraq in 2003 and 2004, political corruption in 2006, etc.

A lot of it has to do with Democratic pols being isolated in Washington, a lot due to the fact that they want the corporate money too. But there is one element that I think is particularly crippling - they just see opinion polls as static. They don't seem to see that opinions can and do change over time. And that a political party can change how people see issues. (Read Emerging Democratic Majority after a while and you'll see what I mean).

All that means is that McCain can get beaten hard, if a few Democrats would starting whacking him. Maybe Kerry would like to start?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on July 28, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

The straight talk shitck was all designed to please the media, which loved the fact that he'd actually take time to talk with them in an honest-seeming way.

This is one of the hidden strengths of the Bush/Rove team. They flatter the media personally, which makes reporters much, much less disposed to write bad news about them. One of the lessons of the Plame affair was that Rove is on the phone with reporters all day long, "helping them out" and getting them stories to write. That's been a tremendous boon for the White House in the long run.

Posted by: Boots Day on July 28, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

terry, wishIwuz2 at 3:54 PM answers your question quite succinctly.

Posted by: benjoya on July 28, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

He started standing next to Bush and his policies as soon as he realized he'd need Bush's monetary support, and the database/mailing list Bush has.

Posted by: Fred F. on July 28, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

McCain will be able to dump quite a bit: credibility, truth, open eyed sence of reality, intelligent foreign policy, and still best the fine tradition of the current administration our Republicans love so much, blah blah blah.

With the political standards the Bush Administration has set, my houn'dawg Norton could run in '08 on a No Thought Required, Just Vote GOP platform, complete with a picture of him sleeping on the front porch, and win. Plus he is cute enuff to get Talk Radio and Fox endorsements, although the interviews would be a bit muffled, and I would have to suppress some Inconvenient Truths about the places his cold nose has been.

Posted by: Pill on July 28, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

The adulterer never apologized to Janet Reno, Chelsea or the first lady for his incredibly mean and offensive joke a few years back. Maybe he'll reverse course.

Posted by: B on July 28, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

What's stopping the Washington Monthly from doing just that?Posted by: koreyel

I think Josh is doing just such a thing (atually, many similar things) over a TPM Cafe.

Posted by: JeffII on July 28, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Flip.

Flop.

Posted by: j on July 28, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

I look forward to reading Ron Brownstein's take on this flip-flop.

Posted by: Patience on July 28, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Johnny Mac revealed his true colors in that nasty letter he sent Obama earlier this year (or was it late last year?). Anyway, the guy has a serious Master-Servant issue to deal with, even though it's dressed up in his easy wit and feckless bloviating. No doubt he'll use whatever means he needs to become POTUS. It's in every human soul, it's just about the degree of cravenness he can live with to get what his ambition tells him he must have.

Posted by: prescient on July 28, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think his stance against the Fawell right, his opposition to torture and support of campaign finance reform were the only things that were admirable about his record to begin with.

In other words, what's left to drop? He's just another Bush Republican.

Posted by: n.o.t.l.f. on July 28, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well, you see, now that he's needing some of that sweet, sweet cash, his thinking on this issue has, shall we say, evolved.

I mean, come on, Kevin - you chide Bush for his unwillingness to change course no matter what the circumstances, and now a man changes his mind and that's unacceptable! Can't you liberals make up your minds? :)

Posted by: Alek Hidell on July 28, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

This is really crappy. Apparently he's just as power-hungry and corrupt as the rest of them. Oh well.

Posted by: mk on July 28, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain could marry a male dog and the press STILL wouldn't turn on him. The media has prettyu much already won him the election in 2008.

Posted by: Monkey on July 28, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

McCain was permanently scarred by the Bush/Rove 2K slime attack. Jingoistic bigots showed their force and savaged him. I'm sure he believes it could easily happen again. We won't see him standing tall on another centrist issue anytime soon.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on July 28, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

His adopted daughter-- the one the Bushies beat him over the head with in SC in 2k. Oh, wait-- he already threw her overboard when he started making nice w/Bush & Co., since any real "straight talker" would never kiss up to anybody who maligned his family.

Sorry kid-- guess you're lucky he can't trade you in for one from the Ukraine. Or Ireland, like John Roberts.

Still, I am afraid Monkey is right. Our corporate masters have dictated that the '08 race will be McCain vs. Hillary.

Posted by: bluewave on July 28, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

What I see is libs throwing John McCain overboard. When he was a maverick who criticized other Republicas, libs loved him. Now that he's a serious Republican candidate for President, libs turn around and demonize im

Posted by: ex-liberal on July 28, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

What I see is libs throwing John McCain overboard. When he was a maverick who criticized other Republicas, libs loved him.

I've never "loved" McCain. But, yes, to the extent we sorta-kinda occasionally liked him, we're throwing him overboard. That's because he's proved himself to be an opportunistic panderer, ex-liberal. Isn't that what you're supposed to do when someone sells out?

Posted by: Alek Hidell on July 28, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me that he has done a pretty good job of demonizing himself.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 28, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

In 2000 while McCain tried to appeal to the greatest common multiple of Americans, Bush proved that electoral success lies in pandering to the least common denominator.

Don't believe that? All you have to do is re-read the postings of the least common denominators amongst us, The Al-bot and Charlie / Whoever He Is Currently.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on July 28, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Off Topic: The Bernard Ebbers conviction was upheld today by an appeals court.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 28, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib,

It's more than that. For moderates who saw the GOP run right, John was the one Republican still fighting our fights.

He's a gamble now. Is he really running right, or just doing so to get the power he needs to go back and finish those 'abandoned' fights on his own terms?

He's been wounded, and likely still bitter. He has plenty of scores to settle with his own side.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on July 28, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

By my reckoning, McCAin was for it before he was against it...

Posted by: The Fool on July 28, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK
What I see is libs throwing John McCain overboard.

Well, some liberals might just now be recoiling as McCain tosses off his pretense of moderation, but I've been saying he's a hardcore partisan Republican trooper who found it convenient to play maverick for political purposes for years.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 28, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

He put serious effort into some of those moderate issues, dicely. Often more risky than convenient, like pushing campaign finance reform as a GOP candidate, when he could personally stand to benefit from the status-quo.

To me, it seemed to go beyond opportunism. I think he genuinely wanted to fix problems. (OK, I can be seriously naive on Fridays)

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on July 28, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Still, I am afraid Monkey is right. Our corporate masters have dictated that the '08 race will be McCain vs. Hillary.
Posted by: bluewave on July 28, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

If the dems try to field hillary, I will personally kick Howard Dean in the nuts.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on July 28, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK
If the dems try to field hillary, I will personally kick Howard Dean in the nuts.

The DNC chair doesn't choose the Presidential candidate. Any candidate can run, and the primary/caucus voters have choose the candidate.

If Hillary gets the nomination, there will be a lot of people needing kicked in sensitive locations.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 28, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

And the DFL isn't the well-oiled machine the GOP has become. They will look at little else but selling potential. On that note, who else but Hillary?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on July 28, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Offtopic, but, did anyone know Florence Nightingale invented the pie chart?

http://www.loyola.edu/mathsci/resources/famousnonmathematicians.htm

Posted by: cld on July 28, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody but Hillary! Run my cat for christ's sake, just don't run Hillary - If she did win the general election there would be such a backlash in 2010 that we would be whimpering for the good old days of 1994 and the Newt.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 28, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

From Kevin's description, it sounds like McCain isn't signing on to a public financing bill. Last time around, what McCain put his name on was a bill to cut back on soft money. So where's the flip flop?

Posted by: Tom on July 28, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

On that note, who else but Hillary?
Posted by: wishIwuz2 on July 28, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck. If selling-potential is what they want, then Jeb Bush is their man. Jesus - when did we turn our world over to the marketing dweebs and spreadsheet jockeys?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on July 28, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK
And the DFL isn't the well-oiled machine the GOP has become.

Well, but that's not a fair comparison. The DFL isn't a national party, but a state party.

They will look at little else but selling potential. On that note, who else but Hillary?

Lots of other options, and plenty of time between now and 2008; the results of 2006 and the resulting tenor of national debate will be a big deciding factor in who is best, but I don't see any scenario in which she is good.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 28, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Straight talk will get you nowhere anyways. The press will just make shit up.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 28, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

What happened to the Friday cat blog?

Posted by: Cal State Disneyland on July 28, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib sez:
"Now that he's a serious Republican candidate for President, libs turn around and demonize him"


Not really man, he has done a sufficient job in that department all on his own. I actually gave up on JC a long time ago. And it goes directly to his character and what parts he has sold off. It is really an indicator of how far away everyday working Americans are from the reality of who the people are they vote for, and how they got to that position in the first place. Just why do people think McCain has tolerated Bush and his inane policies, not to mention the extremely dirty politics Bush used on him during the 2000 primary? Bush has been whispering into JC's ear for some time now, so apparently he will be playing the game with the republican hierarchy, and at a great cost.

Posted by: Ben Merc on July 28, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

What I see is libs throwing John McCain overboard.

You cannot toss a person out of your boat if he's not in your boat to begin with. He revels in his undeserved "maverick" status, but from where I'm standing, he's just another nutjob conservative.

Posted by: Reprobate on July 28, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Well guys, it's been fun, but it's also going to be a hundred frickin' degrees this weekend. I am not staying in this sweltering city. I'm putting a hundred miles and a few hundred feet of elevation between me and the Missouri river until the heat breaks.

Last time I was at the country house, I couldn't get on-line, so if I don't force my opinion on you for a few days, it isn't because I don't want to, it will be a failure of technology.

Posted by: Global Citizen on July 28, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

I've always thought of McCain as a whore and sent him an email with that the sole word in response to some such egregious switch in the past. Just shows you how gullible voters are, and/or how dismal the field of candidates, that no on LOL at the Straght Talk Express.

Posted by: eCAHNomics on July 28, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'll take flag-burning amendment flip-flop for one hundred, Alex.

Maybe the last time they whittled off a patch of cancer, they excised McCain's conscience...

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on July 28, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Permitting the state to decide how much a citizen can give to a political cause is a concept deeply abhorrent to traditional conservatism. If McCain has indeed finally seen the error of his ways on this issue, I say "welcome home". I just wish a few liberals would join the senator, because such things are antithetical to traditional liberalism, too.

Posted by: Edmund Burke on July 28, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

If Hillary gets the nomination, there will be a lot of people needing kicked in sensitive locations.

Better buy some steel tips or you will break some toes. You do not have a credible candidate to face her. She owns Hollywood and all that cash as well as the feminists and the minority vote. You have no way to break her lock on the most important groups.

If you think the Daily Kos crowd can stop her just consider their record. Dean was their guy and the best he could do was 3rd. Kerry, Gore, Biden, Edwards and Feingold are all weak candidates and you don't have any strong Governors. There's only one Democrat with star power and who may be the best campaigner on the planet and he's supporting his wife. She will have all of the money and all of the press.

She is so powerful she may even get McCain the nomination. John could not possibly win the GOP nomination on his own. Conservatives hate him. His only redeeming quality is he would beat Hillary. Only if they are faced with Hillary will they vote for McCain.

Too bad for Rudy his personal life was so screwed up. He may still have a shot of he can convince voters he can carry NY. Obviously a GOP win in NY means we get the Presidency.

It's that irony? The 2008 election will most likely be solely about hillary. Either we vote for her or against her.

It's not an issue in the Primary. She's the one.


Posted by: rdw on July 28, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen: "Off Topic: The Bernard Ebbers conviction was upheld today by an appeals court."

Thank God. I was terribly afraid that he'd suffer a heart attack in Vail, CO if he had been set free, so -- to paraphrase Babs Bush -- this is all working out really well for him.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on July 28, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

he has been a mild critic of the conduct of the war, so we should see that ending soon, since the Republican base is made up of simple-minded idiots who crave bloodshed and yearn for the apocalypse. or it could be his criticism of the administration's endorsement of torture, maybe he'll find a way to repudiate his own experience as a POW and start liking torture to reach the same addled minds. whatever. he is as craven as craven gets.

Posted by: secularhuman on July 28, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Can you add a --NOT-- to the headline after 'STRAIGHT TALKIN' JOHN, ** NOT **

So that at least it's clear that McCain has joined the lying regular scumbags of the GOP.

Posted by: WaPoCritic on July 28, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the Hillary will get the nomination. The left blogosphere dislikes her, and we will be making up a good deal of the Democratic party working force in the next months. We are highly motivated and we vote.

Also, as more people get computers and Internet connections, our influence grows. I get all sorts of political messages via email, some of them already multiply forwarded. And I forward the ones I consider most cogent to my family and friends, and they in turn are forwarding them, and so the messages spread and spread. I presume most of you on here and other blogs do so, as well.

As for McCain, this Arizonan has never voted for him. But because of the "maverick" positions he took in the past, I hoped he would be the Republican nominee in 2000, and he would have won fair and square, unlike Bush. Also, while he would have taken a more hawkish approach than I believe is right to problems with the Middle East and other places, I don't believe he would have invaded Iraq in response to 9/11. He probably would have invaded Afghanistan and might have succeeded in capturing Osama.

However, unlike some of you here, I don't think that a much larger force would have much more overall success in Afghanistan. Although we backed the mujahideen against the Soviet Union in the 80s, they have no particular love for us and would have regarded us as interlopers upon invasion. As our own Revolution against the British, Algeria for the French, Vietnam for the French and us, Afghanistan for the Russians, and now Iraq for us have shown, guerrilla warfare can and does succeed against overwhelmingly superior firepower.

But McCain has now sold out to the worst elements of his party. This might work for the Republicans' base, although I suspect that they will regard him with suspicion. And should there be a candidate with more "impeccable" religious right connections surface, the base will prefer that candidate. Thank God (and I do say this advisedly) Santorum and Frist have shown themselves to be such doofuses.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on July 28, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

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b>rdw wrote:
Better buy some steel tips or you will break some toes. You do not have a credible candidate to face her. She owns Hollywood and all that cash as well as the feminists and the minority vote. You have no way to break her lock on the most important groups.

And just what exactly IS the record Hillary will be running ON??

Hillary Clinton is a big, FAT, target. She's red meat to the right wing -- she is the ONE candidate they're dying to go up against.

But she's chained to a failed policy of reckless adventurism that has damaged our country, our national security. She won't be able to unite the Democratic party behind her because her politics are exploitative and abusive -- she's "led" in the wrong direction -- straight towards the same cliff Bush has driven America over.

If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, Democrats lose the White House. Why? Where's she been over the past six years?

[ . . . crickets . . . ]


Posted by: SombreroFallout on July 29, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

As a Vietnam veteran, I used to respect John McCain. I even salute him for his former POW status. But, by not fully supporting anti-torture legislation, he has betrayed all his fellow POW's and condemned any who may be taken in the future to certain torture and death.

Mice going McCain, you're a real asshole. You proved how you can kiss Bush's chickenhawk ass.

Posted by: Mike on July 29, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget abortion: McCain said if he'd been governor of South Dakota, he would have *preferred* that their draconian anti-abortion bill have a rape/incest exception, but he said he'd have signed it anyway. That's inconsistent bullshit right there in that statement *ALONE*.

Posted by: Chris on July 30, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Good post!!

Posted by: Jordyn on July 31, 2006 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

I think the next position he'll abandon is the one capping the contributions Savings & Loans can give to senators campaigning for re-election.

Posted by: Paul in KY on July 31, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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