There’s a reason some of John McCain’s conservative supporters avoid discussing his record. They want to talk about his personal story, his position on the surge, his supposed electability. But whenever the rest of his career comes up, the knee-jerk reply is to characterize the inquiries as attacks.
The McCain domestic record is a disaster. To say he fought spending, most particularly earmarks, is to nibble around the edges and miss the heart of the matter. For starters, consider:McCain-Feingold
— the most brazen frontal assault on political speech since Buckley
McCain-Kennedy — the most far-reaching amnesty program in American history.
McCain-Lieberman — the most onerous and intrusive attack on American industry — through reporting, regulating, and taxing authority of greenhouse gases — in American history.
McCain-Kennedy-Edwards — the biggest boon to the trial bar since the tobacco settlement, under the rubric of a patients’ bill of rights.
McCain-Reimportation of Drugs — a significant blow to pharmaceutical research and development, not to mention consumer safety (hey Rudy, pay attention, see link).
And McCain’s stated opposition to the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts was largely based on socialist, class-warfare rhetoric — tax cuts for the rich, not for the middle class. The public record is full of these statements. Today, he recalls only his insistence on accompanying spending cuts.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, McCain was consistently hostile to American enterprise, from media and pharmaceutical companies to technology and energy companies.
McCain also led the Gang of 14, which prevented the Republican leadership in the Senate from mounting a rule change that would have ended the systematic use (actual and threatened) of the filibuster to prevent majority approval of judicial nominees.
And then there’s the McCain defense record.
His supporters point to essentially one policy strength, McCain’s early support for a surge and counterinsurgency. It has now evolved into McCain taking credit for forcing the president to adopt General David Petreaus’s strategy. Where’s the evidence to support such a claim?
Moreover, Iraq is an important battle in our war against the Islamo-fascist threat. But the war is a global war, and it most certainly includes the continental United States, which, after all, was struck on 9/11. How does McCain fare in that regard?
McCain-ACLU — the unprecedented granting of due-process rights to unlawful enemy combatants (terrorists).
McCain has repeatedly called for the immediate closing of Guantanamo Bay and the introduction of al-Qaeda terrorists into our own prisons — despite the legal rights they would immediately gain and the burdens of managing such a dangerous population.
While McCain proudly and repeatedly points to his battles with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who had to rebuild the U.S. military and fight a complex war, where was McCain in the lead-up to the war — when the military was being dangerously downsized by the Clinton administration and McCain’s friend, former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen? Where was McCain when the CIA was in desperate need of attention? Also, McCain was apparently in the dark about al-Qaeda like most of Washington, despite a decade of warnings.
My fingers are crossed that at the next debate, either Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney will find a way to address McCain’s record. (Mike Huckabee won’t, as he is apparently in the tank for him.)
– Mark R. Levin served as chief of staff to Attorney General Edwin Meese in the Reagan administration, and he is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host.