Thursday, March 30, 2006

John McCain's rightward drift

He has that seemingly impenetrable reputation as a maverick, an independent. He has serious credibility on national security and the military. He has that compelling personal history. He was character-assassinated by Bush in 2000. He gets along with Jon Stewart.

All that is true, but what else lies beneath the popular facade? Senator John McCain, whatever else we may say of him, is an ideological conservative and unwaveringly loyal Republican. And it's about time that truth was more widely acknowledged.

For as ABC News reports, "the potential Republican presidential hopeful is taking steps to win over the conservatives who denied him the GOP's presidential nomination in 2000". Even Jerry Falwell seems to like him.

He's a conservative, and he always has been. But, looking ahead to '08 as the presumed early front-runner, he's now cuddling up to the far right. He knows he needs to win over the Republican base in order to get through the primaries. He knows that a maverick will never win the GOP nomination. He knows he has to play politics. That's predictable, but unfortunate.

Who is the real McCain? Perhaps the one who now seems so "conventional," to use E.J. Dionne's word, and "pathetic," to use Steve Benen's. I'm not sure I ever expected more from McCain -- I always knew he was far too conservative for my liking -- but I suppose I hoped that he wasn't just another typical Republican.

Now I know better.

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