January 28, 2008

Omninous If He Said It - But How Do We Know He Did?

Hatched by Dafydd

You've all read it; it's all over new media:

Then there is the issue of judicial nominations, a top priority with conservatives. Nothing would improve Mr. McCain's standing with conservatives more than a forthright restatement of his previously stated view that "one of our greatest problems in America today is justices that legislate from the bench." Mr. McCain bruised his standing with conservatives on the issue when in 2005 he became a key player in the so-called gang of 14, which derailed an effort to end Democratic filibusters of Bush judicial nominees. More recently, Mr. McCain has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito, because "he wore his conservatism on his sleeve."

I just listened to John Fund, the author of this claim (a snippet from his Wall Street Journal column today), on Hugh Hewitt's show... and I'm now more skeptical than ever that John McCain actually said this: In fact, it sounds exactly like the sort of smear McCain invents against Mitt Romney. I have the queasy feeling that several anti-McCain conservatives just played John Fund like a bass oboe.

Why? Let me rattle off some evidence...

  1. Let's start with the obvious: McCain voted in favor of the nomination of Samuel Alito when it came up -- two years ago this Thursday. In fact, he supported Alito's nomination all through the process; he didn't say anything about Alito "[wearing] his conservativism on his sleeve."

Now Hugh's got a point: Supporting the president's nomination is not the same as McCain making his own nomination; he may have been willing to live with Alito... but when he gets to make his own nominations, he might lunge for a Souter or Kennedy.

But on the other hand, the provenance of the alleged quotation is on pretty shaky ice itself:

  1. Not a single person has offered up any McCain citation to support this claim. Nothing!

If John McCain were running around telling this to conservatives, wouldn't at least one of them have gone public with it? Or wouldn't it appear in some news account of some event where McCain spoke?

Instead, we're asked to believe it on the basis that some guys told John Fund that McCain said (or perhaps implied) it... but he can't tell us who they are because of journalistic confidentiality.

  1. Contrariwise, numerous quotations have sprung up, going back to 2005, of McCain praising soon-to-be Justice Alito and citing him and Justice John Roberts as examples of the sorts of judges he would elevate to the Supreme Court.

If he's flatly saying that he would elevate judges in the mold of Samuel Alito, that's pretty definitive: That's exactly the reverse of what Fund's three nameless sources said; so it should carry even more weight, since it's straight from the horse's patoot, unfiltered.

  1. Finally, in Fund's own column, only the last seven words -- "he wore his conservatism on his sleeve" -- are inside quotation marks. The rest, including everything to give it context (Alito, Supreme Court, McCain's nomination), is mere paraphrase by Fund.

Did they say McCain literally said it? Did they say he implied it? Did they simply infer it from something innocuous McCain said? And who is Fund actually quoting -- one of his sources, or McCain himself?

We'll never know... at least not unless Fund (a) recorded the interviews, and (b) gets permission to let others listen to the recordings.

So until and unless somebody offers me better evidence than just John Fund saying three anonymous guys told him something McCain is supposed to have said, I will dismiss the charge. I still think Mitt Romney would make a nominally better president; and I still think McCain would make a nominally better candidate in the general election.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 28, 2008, at the time of 5:51 PM

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Forgive my continued skepticism, but the stunning new evidence (?), reported by Power Line, Patterico, et al, that John McCain "almost certainly" did diss Samuel Alito, impresses me not a bit. So in addition to two anonymous conservative lawyers tellin... [Read More]

Tracked on February 1, 2008 6:36 PM


The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

There is an entire LAUNDRY LIST of reasons to oppose John McCain... but this isn't one of them. It speaks more about John Fund than John McCain when it A) Can't be backed up with a quote, and B) All the quotes you CAN find contradict the charge.

The only honorable thing for Fund to do is to apologize and recant the charge... unless he can prove it, it's just a dishonest smear.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 28, 2008 10:55 PM

The following hissed in response by: eliXelx

Will Hewitt stop at nothing to get his little Mitten elected?

Did he suggest to Fund beforehand that such a statement would be useful and unchallenged?

What? Don't you think Hewitt is capable of dirty Democrat political tricks rather like his doppelganger, Billary?

Shame on you HH! And shame on you Daffyyd for propagating this!

The above hissed in response by: eliXelx [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2008 4:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: eliXelx

Sorry Daffyyd, but your defence of Mitt's unquestionable "timetable" quote was far more strident than your polite discussion of this unsubstantiated smear.

The person you should be questioning on this is NOT Fund, but that paragon of all things honest, upstanding and Conservative, Hugh Hewitt!

The above hissed in response by: eliXelx [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2008 4:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Did you do a lot of acid back in the 60s?


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2008 6:52 AM

The following hissed in response by: JGUNS

You are wrong about McCain on the "gang of 14" as are most conservatives. You are looking too closely. Take a bigger picture approach. When you look at that time, dems were NOT going to let ANY judges through, and they were willing to gamble that the repubs wouldn't take the "nuclear" option, and if they did, they knew that the repubs would be in the minority soon and then they would be essentially powerless. Which is exactly what would have happened. Where would we be now with no right to filibuster. McCain saw this and he made a deal with the devil so to speak to get at least most of the judges through., Many of these judges to many of the smaller judgeships that nevertheless made a BIG difference. I think McCain, whose record is bigger than the last 2 years and is the only REAL social conservative and fiscal conservative out of them all based on a solid and LONG TERM voting record, is the only republican that polls show can come close to beating any DEMOCRAT. Yes, polls can be wrong, but I think independants are key in this race and most dems and liberals are in full swoon over Obama, so McCain is someone that we really need to consider as the best candidate.

The above hissed in response by: JGUNS [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2008 8:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: eliXelx

Fair bit, yes Daffydd! Also every other recreational drug known to man and some, like yage, that you have to travel deep into the Amazon to find!

How about you? Did you inhale, sniff, snort, drop, inject? The truth now Daff! This is me in public; are we going to see you in public?

And you know what? It has left me impervious to insults and with a keen nose for bull-****!

[Careful with the language, Elixelx; we don't allow obscenities on Big Lizards. -- the Mgt.]

The above hissed in response by: eliXelx [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2008 8:58 AM

The following hissed in response by: eliXelx

Thanks editor, my bad!

Still, a rose by any other name still smells!

The above hissed in response by: eliXelx [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 29, 2008 2:28 PM

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