Friday, June 13, 2008

McCain: Not Moderate at All

John McCain has a reputation as a maverick. That certainly used to be true. There are enough examples in his past to give such a statement a basis in fact. But he is not a moderate and never has been. 

You see, there is a difference between being a conservative and being a Republican, just as their is a difference between being a liberal and being a Democrat. While it is true that there is a strong correlation between the conservative-liberal spectrum and the Republican-Democrat spectrum, they are not actually the same thing. And someone like McCain -- who has been known to buck his party's interest -- might have an independent streak, even while being a very consistent conservative. 

I cannot think of single example of when McCain has gone against his party and gone against the conservative position. 

Conservatives don't like big government and they don't like taxes or spending, but they certainly don't like deficits. John McCain has bucked his party on spending -- likening his colleagues to a bunch of drunken sailors on shore leave. He wanted lower spending. In fact, back when he was against the Bush tax cuts, it was because they were not accompanied by the necessary spending to prevent deficits. 

He went against the Republican party to take the conservative position. 

Honest and clean government is not particularly a Democratic or liberal position. In fact, if I had to pick, I'd actually point to it as a conservative issue, if anything. Certainly, neither party has a great interest in losing the power or positions that is has. Efforts to clean up election spending is, therefore, not a liberal position at all. Of course, the GOP has long had a been money advantage under the old rules, so the party does not want a change in the rules. 

So, on campaign finance, he went against the Republican party, but not towards particularly liberal position.

It simply is not accurate to say that John McCain is a moderate. He is in favor of lower taxes. He is in favor of lower government spending. He is anti-choice/pro-life. All conservative position. He is in favor of states' rights on gay marriage, a conservative position, even if the religious right doesn't like it. 

I cannot think a single instance when his maverick streak pushed him to take a liberal position. I can only think of occasions when he stepped away from some of the insanity of his party to take a conservative or non-ideological position. 

This, actually, is something that I respect him for. He was not bound to his party beyond all reason -- at least not before he started running for his party's nomination for the presidency this cycle. When he feels it strongly enough, he stands up for what he believes in -- or at least he used to -- even when those beliefs do not match the interests of his party. 

But that doesn't make him a moderate, which is a statement about his liberal-conservative tendencies. He simply has no record of taking liberal positions on anything. Is sometimes went against the Republican position, but extremely rarely to a Democratic position. Rather, sometimes he found  anti-partisan position. 

At best, that made him somewhat independent of his party and his caucus. But still conservative. 

In fact, the only thing has has pushed him from his general conservatism has been his recent embrace of GOP positions. The best current rankings have him in the the most extreme quintile of the Senate, whereas Obama is in the middle quintile, even closer to the middle than McCain has been been across his entire career. 

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