As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

McCain Acknowledges Danger Of Bush Endorsement

I found this to be extremely interesting. Mort Kondracke seems to me to be someone who would be privy to the inside information in the McCain camp.

I know, as a matter of fact, that they’re talking in the McCain camp about ways to separate themselves in some way from Bush, and they haven’t figured out how to do it–some issue that he can be distinctive from Bush about.

Clearly it’s not going to be the war. It’s not going to be tax cuts. It has got to be something reasonably major so that the Democrats can’t say this is just the third term.

This is why the McSame ads and label is so very important. His campaign undoubtedly has some polling that shows how vulnerable he is, and indeed how vulnerable any Republican is, to this critique. Indeed, he doesn't even need polling. He can look at the 2006 election.

The reason he's so vulnerable is because it's so very, very true. McCain being a maverick notwithstanding, the policies line up almost perfectly, we all know it, and I suspect that he knows it.

But of course, McCain's in a double-bind. The moment he departs from Bush on any signature issue is the moment that the conservative ideologues who are suspicious of his motives get confirmation that he will indeed stab them in the back to get votes. Exactly where is he going to take a U-Turn? He's boxed in on all of these signature issues and would face a major backlash:

TORTURE: Despite McCain’s reputation as an opponent of torture, he has consistently supported legislative language that protects the Bush administration’s prerogatives to use it. Most recently, McCain voted against a ban on waterboarding and urged President Bush to veto the bill.

SURVEILLANCE: Echoing Bush in his CPAC speech this year, McCain called it “shameful and dangerous” for Democrats to oppose a surveillance bill that contains retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. He then voted “to terminate lawsuits against” those companies.

IMMIGRATION: In 2005, McCain told the New Yorker that “the President and I share exactly the same views on the issue.”

SOCIAL SECURITY: In 2005, McCain was “a big booster” of Bush’s Social Security privatization plan and last week he told the Wall Street Journal that as president he wants to reform Social Security through private savings accounts “along the lines that President Bush proposed.”

HEALTH CARE: After examining his health care plan, the New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn recently concluded that McCain will act “like George W. Bush” as he supports policy ideas that “President Bush has embraced.”

Republicans created this monster, saddled themselves with a host of issues that are unpalatable to independents and the general public, and boxed in their candidates 'til the end of time. This is why McCain's down on the electoral map despite this so-called "bruising" primary, because ultimately he's a faceless Republican. And that means George Bush.

This is coming to a head with the John Hagee situation. While the media has been reluctant to really nail McSame for his hypocrisy over supporting an anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic end-timer (possibly because they consider all evangelicals to be crazy and not understanding the crucial distinctions with Hagee), today Nancy Pelosi weighed in. She's the highest-ranking Catholic in the US government, and she represents the potential to close "Daou's triangle" and really make this a signature issue that the media couldn't ignore any longer.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most prominent Catholic serving in the U.S. government, called on Sen. John McCain to reject the endorsement of Texas televangelist John Hagee, who has labeled the Catholic church "the great whore," a "false cult system," and linked it to Hitler's Nazi movement.

"That behavior is outside the circle of civilized debate in our democracy," Pelosi said during a Thursday conference call. "I certainly think John McCain should reject his endorsement and I'm sure it won't be long before he does."

McCain has come under heavy fire from Catholic groups across the political spectrum for appearing with Hagee last week and declaring he was "proud" of the endorsement. Subsequently, McCain told reporters that Hagee's backing "does not mean that I embrace everything that he stands for and believes," but added, "I am very proud of the Pastor John Hagee's spiritual leadership to thousands of people."

This will KILL McCain among Catholics if he doesn't disassociate himself with Hagee, and that's key to several important states in the Rust Belt. But if he rejects Hagee's support, he angers many evangelicals in a symbolic way, as well as conservative activists who want to keep the three-legged stool somehow upright.

McCain absolutely knows he's in trouble and he doesn't see a way out. And there are also the lobbying scandals and his illegal exit from the campaign finance system.


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