The Corner

More McCain Reax

As promised.

Forty percent of the people who emailed me—a plurality!—can’t stand McCain. A representative sample:

Unlike Romney and Giuliani, he’s got WAY too much demonstratable lefty baggage for this conservative Republican. McCain fancies himself a sort of courageous “free thinking” type, but he’s been to bed with both Kennedy and Feingold in major ways with the Immigration and Campaign Finance bills–two egregious examples of mistaken far-leftist legislation that amount to extremely serious damage to the fabric of America. These aren’t just a foot over the line of common sense, they’re a mile over. And who the hell knows where else he’s going to lurch to demonstrate his “maverick” credentials?

Those are legitimate complaints about McCain. They’re also legitimate complaints about Giuliani–as far as I can tell, he still supports campaign-finance reform and comprehensive immigration reform. [I was wrong on campaign finance. See this update.] Thompson played a leading role in enacting campaign-finance reform and has yet to repudiate it thoroughly. Romney, of course, supported both types of legislation and then flipped–and I’m glad he flipped.

Another anti-McCain email:

You have a convenient memory on subject McCain.

If Romney has liabilities (Mormon), McCain is even more vulnerable. McCain is an open borders globalist who has been staunchly pro-amnesty. McCain instigated the assault on the 1st. Amendment: McCain-Feingold. McCain voted down Bush tax cuts. McCain denigrated social conservatives as “agents of intolerance.” McCain FLIPPED ON ABORTION when he OPPOSED overturning Roe until his poll numbers dipped sharply in Feb. 2007. (A far more conspicuous FLIP than Romney.)

I dislike McCain’s position on campaign-finance reform, but I strongly doubt that it is a general-election liability. (I take it that’s what the reader means when she refers to “liabilities.”) From the late 1990s through the 2002, conservatives often argued that congressional Republicans didn’t need to vote for it because not many voters really care about the issue. We were right. And McCain didn’t flip on abortion. He made one dumb comment about Roe v. Wade in 1999. It was a slip of the tongue; the full quote makes sense only if you assume he meant to say that the country wasn’t ready for a national ban on abortion, which is probably true. He immediately issued a statement correcting his remark. Finally, his immigration position could be a general-election liability, depending on how he handles it in the future, but it is less of one given that he will be running against another supporter of comprehensive immigration reform.

Still more later!

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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