Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More on the Marvelous Maverick

One of my readers has just pointed out a couple of articles on that Marvelous Maverick McCain (thanks, Amber). One is this Web site devoted to critical observation of the bold Maverick, The Real McCain, and this article: One Time Reformer Taps Big Donors by John Solomon Washington Post 02/11/07.

I think we have to give Solomon some credit on this one for at least reporting the facts, though his account is still filtered through the press corps script about the great Maverick:

In his early efforts to secure the support of the Republican establishment he has frequently bucked, McCain has embraced some of the same political-money figures, forces and tactics he pilloried during a 15-year crusade to reduce the influence of big donors, fundraisers and lobbyists in elections. That includes enlisting the support of Washington lobbyists as well as key players in the fundraising machine that helped President Bush defeat McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries.

After enduring his own brush with scandal in the early 1990s, when he and four Senate colleagues pressured regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, chairman of a failed savings and loan association, while collecting donations and favors from him, McCain became a leader in the effort to eliminate "soft money" in elections -- large donations from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals. In 2002, McCain joined forces with Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) to finally push through legislation ending soft money and placing strict limits on donations.

But now the contrast between McCain the presidential candidate and McCain the reformer can be jarring. McCain's campaign says that he is still studying whether to forgo the public financing and spending limits he has long supported, but that he will not be handicapped by restrictions his competitors will not face in 2008.
Yes, McCain bucked the "Republican Establishment" by ... promoting a campaign reform that put more restrictions on sources relied upon by Democrats than by Republicans. He was the maverick who sponsored an anti-torture measure that re-outlawed torture practices that were already illegal. Then when Bush issued a "signing statement" declaring his right to disobey the new law, the Maverick didn't have any problems with that.

The great Maverick dissented from Bush's war policy by advocating escalation of the war. Which now Cheney and Bush have adopted as John Edwards has appropriately dubbed the "McCain escalation". That's our Maverick!

I don't think the contrast is so much "between McCain the presidential candidate and McCain the reformer". The contrast is between the script about the bold and unconventional Maverick that the "press corps" adopted long ago - and the reality of John McCain the hardcore rightwing Senator and reckless advocate of military adventurism. Now *that* is a contrast.

Solomon also reports on the kind of fellow maverick McCain gets to raise big bucks for him. Why, look, it's Mr. Trent what-happened-to-the-good-old-segregation-days Lott!

In December, Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.), a darling of GOP conservatives and lobbyists, acted as a surrogate for McCain at a fundraising meeting with a group of lobbyists at a Capitol Hill hotel. McCain's political action committee has collected donations - capped at $5,000 - from several big-name lobbyists, including Loeffler and fellow Bush fundraiser Wayne Berman, whose blue-chip clients frequently have issues pending before Congress and the White House.
And he tells us that the bold Maverick caved on a campaign-reform issue when some of his Christian Right fundi base griped:

But McCain the candidate switched positions and last month voted against that disclosure requirement after influential GOP groups such as Focus on the Family and National Right to Life strongly opposed the idea. McCain also hired as his campaign manager one of the grass-roots-lobbying industry's key consultants, Bush strategist Terry Nelson. (my emphasis)
Focus on the Family head James Dobson is probably the most influential of the Christian Right leaders right now. And our bold Maverick is right there at his service.

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