McCain Pain

McCain Pain

Traditionalists – people who believe in the Constitution as it was written – will find little to like in Senator John McCain.  Like Supreme Court Justice David Souter, he is an establishment, liberal Republican in the Nelson Rockefeller mode, so deeply imbued with the moral relativism of modernity that he no longer knows where to find home port for the Ship of State. 

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Carol Turoff gives us an Arizonan’s perception of the real John McCain.

November 14, 2006
McCain: Embarking on the Ship of State

By Carol Turoff

Here comes John McCain. If only he could get Arizonans to like him.

Arizona Senator John McCain sees the trouncing Republicans took nationally as an encouraging sign for his 2008 presidential bid. McCain is, after all, the ultimate chameleon, wearing his Republicanism as a badge when it serves him, yet pandering to the left when convenient. GOP losses provide him the opportunity to warm to Independents and swing voters, further antagonizing the conservative base of his party. Strategizing with advisors and confidants, he is expected to open an exploratory committee by month’s end. But in his home state of Arizona, McCain is not universally beloved by his fellow Republicans. While it is true he is repeatedly reelected, his challengers have been less-than-lightweights in the political arena. The old adage of Never a Hero in Your Own Hometown seems to apply, since the elected precinct committeemen in McCain’s own district have actually voted to censure him.

He was also denounced by the Maricopa County Executive Guidance Committee comprised of GOP leadership in a lopsided 17 to 3 vote. Mohave County later voted similarly. The EGC’s resolution declares, “We condemn John McCain’s betrayal of the trust Republican voters placed in him.” Pretty strong stuff from his party cohorts.

Hoisting the mantle of “moderates” and registered Independents, his candidate endorsements sorely lack influence with GOP voters. Whether endorsing gubernatorial, congressional or outlying city council candidates, his local selectees often lose. Where McCain shines is on the national horizon, as the mostly liberal media shower him with ample attention. And, why not? A registered Republican who acts like a Democrat plays well with this crowd. Having ditched the Goldwateresque title, “maverick,” he once reveled in, he currently appears to prefer, “reformer.” Now we just have to figure out what that means.

McCain’s much ballyhooed hug of President Bush concealed the dagger he was simultaneously sliding into George’s back. Their animus reaches back to 2000, when both campaigns were driving hard and fast. The underlying rancor swelled as he vocally opposed Bush’s tax cuts. Recently, McCain has given the military grief over detainee interrogation techniques. In supporting gun control, he antagonizes Second Amendment supporters. Forging what he terms “bipartisan” alliances with Democrats Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy does little to endear him to his political brethren.

Barely escaping with his own political life after questionable associations with convicted financier, Charlie Keating, McCain’s epiphany has placed him in the forefront of campaign finance reform. Such efforts further exacerbated internal rifts, since opponents argue the measures violate First Amendment rights, infringing upon free speech. As leader of the so-called Gang of 14, he drew criticism for his deal-making regarding judicial filibusters. Support of embryonic stem cell research and his repeated votes to block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,lessening dependence on foreign oil, rankle. Kudos he received for his support of the Iraq war are tempered by his waffling on implementation and enforcement of reliable border security. McCain supports a guest worker plan offering citizenship to those who flagrantly and illegally enter our country. He was denounced for advising Hispanic demonstrators to discard their Mexican flags while marching through American streets, lest they further inflame U.S. citizens. McCain has also taken refuge in the global warming camp, much to the chagrin of many in his party.

Already age 70, he would be the oldest president in U.S. history, if elected. That fact, coupled with his renowned undisciplined temper and recurrent melanoma, could ultimately be deal breakers. Currently, the McCain’s are in the process of selling their Phoenix estate and moving to a high-dollar high-rise, where they have purchased an entire upper floor; providing the much needed security a national leader requires.

But close on his heels are Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and California Congressman, Duncan Hunter. Both Republicans are seriously eyeing the 2008 presidential race. Interestingly, this is the first time in eighty years there is neither an incumbent president nor vice president seeking election to the nation’s highest post.

Conservatives are left to ponder their intolerable choices if faced with Senators John McCain or Hillary Clinton heading the 2008 party tickets.

Carol Turoff is a former two-term member of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. During her eight years on the commission, she participated in the selection of four of the five current Arizona Supreme Court Justices as well as 17 judges on both Divisions I and II of the Arizona Court of Appeals. Appointed by two governors, Turoff served with three chairing Supreme Court Justices.

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