Thursday, January 10, 2008
Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 9:30 AM UPDATE
I will leave this post at the top today because conservatives have to know that Senator McCain is the anti-conservative, and Rick Santorum’s warning should be read by every Republican in every state yet to vote, and not just for the discussion of the McCain-Kennedy immigration fiasco highlighted below. I hope one or more of the FoxNews panel uses many of Senator Santorum’s quotes in tonight’s debate to put the issue of John McCain’s anti-conservatism center on the table.
When Santorum says that “we’re looking at the media trying to make Barack Obama the president, and make John McCain the shill for him,” and “I think they know that John McCain can’t win this election,” he is exactly on target.
When Santorum says of McCain that on “the environment, he’s absolutely terrible. He buys into the complete left wing environmentalist movement in this country,” he is speaking from Republican Caucus experience.
When Santorum says that about the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill that “John McCain was the guy who was working with Ted Kennedy to drive it down our throats, and lectured us repeatedly about how xenophobic we were, lectured us, us being the Republican conference, about how wrong we were on this, how we were on the wrong side of history,” he was there, heard those lectures.
When Michael Gerson says that “I think the main policy problem John McCain has is that I don’t think there’s much evidence that he’s a convert on the pro-growth economic philosophy,” and adds that “[w]hen he opposed the Bush tax cuts, it wasn’t just that there was not offsets, and not sufficient cuts,” remember that Gerson was at George W. Bush’s side through those battles. Gerson remembers that McCain “used our class warfare arguments, ‘It’ll only benefit the top 1%’ and other things,” and concluded “I don’t think he buys the kind of supply side ideology that has really determined American economic policies the last 25 years, particularly under both Reagan and the current President Bush.”
When you consider McCain, keep in mind Santorum’s warning:
John McCain looks at things through the eyes, on these kind of domestic policy issues, looks at it through the eyes of the New York Times’ editorial board, and accepts that predisposition that if you are not, if you stand for conservative principles, there’s some genetic defect.
Rick Santorum worked alongside John McCain for a dozen years in the Senate. Michael Gerson was at George W. Bush’s side as the president worked Congress to pass tax cuts. I interviewed both today. The Santorum transcript is here ; the Gerson transcript here.
Key excerpts from the Santorum interview on McCain’s immigration views:
HH: Senator, welcome back. I was just…did you serve alongside Senator McCain for 12 years or longer?
RS: 12 years.
HH: So you know him well.
RS: I do.
HH: When you hear the media talking about him, and of course, he got Iraq right, and we’re all grateful for that, but he wasn’t the only Republican to get it right. Do you believe he’s sincerely changed on the immigration bill to where he understands the message that was delivered last summer?
HH: Why not?
RS: Well, I mean, because John McCain was the leader on the other side of the aisle. John McCain was the guy who was working with Ted Kennedy to drive it down our throats, and lectured us repeatedly about how xenophobic we were, lectured us, us being the Republican conference, about how wrong we were on this, how we were on the wrong side of history, and that you know, this is important for his…because having come from Arizona, knowing the strength of the Hispanic community, that we were going to be seen as racists, and he wasn’t going be part of that, that he was not a racist, and that if we were for tougher borders, it was a racist thing. Look, John McCain looks at things through the eyes, on these kind of domestic policy issues, looks at it through the eyes of the New York Times editorial board, and accepts that predisposition that if you are not, if you stand for conservative principles, there’s some genetic defect.
Santorum on McCain’s ideology generally:
HH: Why can’t John McCain win this election?
RS: Well, number one, John McCain will not get the base of the Republican Party. I mean, there was a reason John McCain collapsed last year, and it’s because he was the frontrunner, and everybody in the Republican Party got a chance to look at him. And when they looked at him, they wait well, wait a minute, he’s not with us on almost all of the core issues of…on the economic side, he was against the President’s tax cuts, he was bad on immigration. On the environment, he’s absolutely terrible. He buys into the complete left wing environmentalist movement in this country. He is for bigger government on a whole laundry list of issues. He was…I mean, on medical care, I mean, he was for re-importation of drugs. I mean, you can go on down the list. I mean, this is a guy who on a lot of the core economic issues, is not even close to being a moderate, in my opinion. And then on the issue of, on social conservative issues, you point to me one time John McCain every took the floor of the United States Senate to talk about a social conservative issue. It never happened. I mean, this is a guy who says he believes in these things, but I can tell you, inside the room, when we were in these meetings, there was nobody who fought harder not to have these votes before the United States Senate on some of the most important social conservative issues, whether it’s marriage or abortion or the like. He always fought against us to even bring them up, because he was uncomfortable voting for them. So I mean, this is just not a guy I think in the end that washes with the mainstream of the Republican Party.
Gerson on McCain:
HH: Now Michael Gerson, you observed from the White House the battles over McCain-Feingold, and especially the Gang of 14. You know he voted against the Bush tax cuts. I admire John McCain a lot. I don’t like him at all. I mean, I really don’t like him. And as a result, you know, I will grudgingly throw in if he’s the nominee, but I don’t want to abandon my conservative Reagan-Bush coalition to John McCain’s leadership. Is this something you hear a lot from people?
MG: Well, it is on a couple of issues. I think the main policy problem John McCain has is that I don’t think there’s much evidence that he’s a convert on the pro-growth economic philosophy. When he opposed the Bush tax cuts, it wasn’t just that there was not offsets, and not sufficient cuts. He used our class warfare arguments, it’ll only benefit the top 1% and other things. I don’t think he buys the kind of supply side ideology that has really determined American economic policies the last 25 years, particularly under both Reagan and the current President Bush. And so that is, I think, the real problem. I mean, he has a soft spot for regulation in his record. He also is not really a supply-sider.
HH: And he’s also…do you think of him as an originalist? I won’t put words in your mouth, but the Gang of 14 struck me as being a non-originalist taking care of the perks of the Senate, as opposed to someone concerned with Constitutional processes, as did McCain-Feingold, which was a gagging of 1st Amendment rights.
MG: Yeah, no, I agree with that, but I don’t believe that McCain-Feingold is going to be a huge political issue. It certainly may be an ideological objection. But you know, McCain, though, to be fair, I believe on social policy and on judges has been conventionally conservative over the years. He has a pretty good record in the same way that Bob Dole had a pretty good record, not that he looks like he’s deeply engaged in these issues. I don’t know how much he cares about them. But he’s generally voted the right way.
R. W. “Dick” Gaines
THE “G” BLOG.