November 13, 2005

A Sunshine Republican...

Hatched by Dafydd

...Is Better Than an All-Weather Democrat

Read the following exchange, from Instapundit (hat tip, Power Line), between Bob Schieffer and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

SCHIEFFER: President Bush accused his critics of rewriting history last week.

Sen. McCAIN: Yeah.

SCHIEFFER: And in--he said in doing so, the criticisms they were making of his war policy was endangering our troops in Iraq. Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?

Sen. McCAIN: No, I think it's a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and to disagree and to debate. But I want to say I think it's a lie to say that the president lied to the American people. I sat on the Robb-Silverman Commission. I saw many, many analysts that came before that committee. I asked every one of them--I said, `Did--were you ever pressured politically or any other way to change your analysis of the situation as you saw?' Every one of them said no.

This post is dedicated to all those commenters who insist that we have to dump all the RINOs (Republicans in name only) because "they're no better than Democrats, so we may as well have clarity by voting them out, even if they're replaced by actual Democrats."

John McCain is a sunshine Republican: he supports a great many Democratic ideas (his signature issue, campaign-finance "reform," for example, but there are many others -- tax increases, global warming, same-sex marriage); he was the founding member of the Gang of Fourteen, which prevented Republicans from getting rid of the judicial filibuster; he has a dislike of Bush bordering on hatred, stemming from an incident in South Carolina during the 2000 presidential primary: somebody who supported Bush over McCain circulated absurd and false flyers saying that McCain's adopted child from Bangladesh was actually "black," that McCain was gay, and that his daughter Cindy was a drug addict; to this day, I believe, McCain is still convinced that it was done at Bush's orders -- or at least that Bush passively acquiesced.

There has never been a shred of evidence that Bush had anything to do with this, but that's not relevant to McCain's inner belief (if indeed I am even correct about what McCain believes in the deepest cavity of his heart).

"Here comes the big butt," as Larry Elderberry likes to say. BUT -- nobody can name a single Democrat in Arizona who could possibly replace McCain as senator who would have come right out and said that it is the people accusing Bush of "lying us into war" who are the ones actually lying.

In fact, I believe that every nationally-known Democrat still serving in national office would have been terrified to call these liars what they are; it is too important a meme to the Democratic Party to allow free thought on the question.

But John McCain did; in defending Bush and the war itself, he was considerably more aggressive and blunt than Scott McClellan, Dick Cheney, or even George W. Bush himself. He believes we should send a lot more troops... but he has never been even ambivalent on the moral propriety of invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein; he has defended it with courage and vigor, as Kennedy -- not that one, the one who was president -- would say.

And that is the point: on many issues, such as the Iraq War and abortion, it is far, far better to have John McCain in the Senate than any Democrat you can name; better for the Republican Party, better for the president, and better for conservatives.

A Republican would need to be a heck of a lot worse than McCain before it would be rational to push him out, knowing he might be replaced by an "all-weather" Democrat. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) comes close, but not even he qualifies most of the time: for one thing, Chafee always votes for the Republicans on organizational votes; he doesn't vote for Harry Reid (D-NV) for majority leader, for example.

Beware the purists! They always prefer to lose in purity rather than win by compromise, no matter how minor. That is because they don't actually have to govern.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 13, 2005, at the time of 6:32 PM

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The following hissed in response by: F. N. Owl

McCain expects to be the next President. He wants this gun spiked before it gets used on him.

The above hissed in response by: F. N. Owl [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2005 7:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Still something funky in the way my site leaves trackbacks for your site. I linked to your post from The Counter-Attacks Continue.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2005 10:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

Your comment on the purists is spot on. A good example is the partial-birth abortion ban bill that wouldn't be wending its way back up to the supremes right now if the authors could have compromised on the mother's health issue. So now, my prediction is partial-birth abortion will remain legal forever.

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 14, 2005 3:30 PM

The following hissed in response by: beebop


The "health" exception is the footnote that swallows the rule. The Supreme Court has defined a mother's health to include her emotional health, behavioral health, mental health and even something called "familial health" whatever that is, in addition to what us mere mortals consider the word health to mean. I defy any abortion opponent to find a prospective late term abortion that could not fit through one of these loopholes.

The above hissed in response by: beebop [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 14, 2005 5:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: The Yell

No, we'd rather WIN in purity and govern in purity, than "compromise" everything from the budget to the 1st Amendment.

Your basic premise is that nobody but incumbent RINOs can win these seats, so it's either McCain or some Democrat or Specter or some Democrat. But there's no question that Arizona would support a strong conservative for Senator; it did so in John Kyl.

Kudos to McCain for speaking a necessary truth at the first opportunity; but I think we could have that from a Senator in the mode of John Kyl, AND save ourselves grief on the other issues.

The above hissed in response by: The Yell [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 15, 2005 1:25 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

The Yell:

McCain is a fixture in Arizona; he would win that seat whether he was a Republican, a Democrat, or head of the Beer Drinker's Party.

If you manage to get him bounced in the primary, he would run as an independent -- win -- and then caucus with the Democrats.

As far as replacing Arlen Specter, who would you suggest could do it? Bear in mind that Rick Santorum is about to be crushed under a steamroller. He's running something like fifteen or twenty points behind Bob Casey jr., and it's gotten worse with every poll since early this year.

PA has more Republican than Democratic representatives, but I haven't heard anybody floated who would win an open seat for senator... which is what you get if you clobber Specter in the primary. Did you have somebody in mind?

If in fact there is a very good shot at getting rid of Specter and replacing him with a more reliable Republican, I'm all in favor of it; I despise Specter. But we're already going to lose one Republican from PA in 2006; I don't want to lose another.

The point is moot anyway, because Specter was last reelected in 2004, so he's not even up until 2010, which will be two years into the term of the next president; thus, nobody can say anything meaningful about whether it would be good or bad to go scalp-hunting in that year.

If we pick up two or three net in 2006 + 2008 (my Magic 8-Ball says "reply hazy, try again"), so we're working off of a 57-43 or 58-42 majority, then it's much more tempting than if it goes the other way, and we're inching along with 52-48 or 53-47.

But in most RINO cases -- Lincoln Chafee, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, etc. -- the answer to the question "can nobody but incumbent RINOs win these seats?" is "absolutely not... they can be won by either incumbent RINOs or Democratic challengers."


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 15, 2005 1:54 AM

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