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July 17, 2006

McCain to ditch the maverick schtick

Chris Cillizza notes that John McCain dropping his maverick pose:

But as McCain looks to another presidential bid, he has systematically courted the same party powerbrokers he railed against in his first national campaign. And he has recruited many of Bush's key fundraisers and operatives and has made a point of standing by the president on a number of important issues despite Bush's lagging poll numbers. [WaPo]

The revelation that John McCain is a GOP insider might be today's least newsworthy news item.


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That won't stop our media, of course, from repeating the same tired cliche.

the only maverick thing he ever stood for was campaign am I supposed to tell he has changed anything now?

You mean, someone told McCain that nobody is buying the "Maverick thing" and for a change he got and took some good advice.

Not news that he's a conservative. Cozying up to the party sleaze , however, is a relatively new phenomenon. I think it is news that he is a party insider, because his maverick image had as much to do with his reputation for eschewing the slime of the GOP as his policy positions, which have not changed (except for the tax cuts vote). He used to call people like Jerry Falwell agents of intolerance and he was virtually at war with Grover Norquist. It is news that he has made up with these two, as well as Karl Rove, Dan Coats, Mark McKinnon and a slew of Bush fundraisers. Remember, in 2000 he openly flirted with the third party run and just two years ago was openly courted by John Kerry.

The media, of course, seem to focus on policy. The only reason why McCain seems more conservative compared with six years ago is that the 2008 election will be about Iraq and terrorism, issues on which he has consistently been as hawkish as Bush. Nobody particularly really cares (or just can's remember) that he led the fight for campaign finance reform, or worked with Democrats to try to close the gun show loophole, bring the US into compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, legalize cheaper imported Canadian drugs, raise fuel efficiency standards, fund stem cell research, and author a patient bill of rights with Ted Kennedy and John Edwards. Nobody cares the he originally voted against tax cuts. Nobody even really cares that he has repeatedly called for Rumsfeld resignation or that he pushed for stricter rules against prisoner abuse.

The reaction on both the left and the right has been largely the same. The right has always want a conservative and/or they see him as the most viable candidate. The left, of course, is betting that conservatism will be enormously unpopular by 2008 and are thus happy to go along. The strange result has been a rash of news stories and a flurry of intense farcical debate in which everybody agrees that McCain was always conservative.

The danger in McCain, however, is not in what he always has been. It is in what he has become recently. It’s not just news. It’s bad news, and it's worth exposing.

I blame the Stockholm syndrome. McCain could survive the North Vietnamese torture and brainwashing, but not Karl Rove's. Sad.

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