Is there any political position John McCain wouldn’t change to further his own survival?
When you think of the anti-incumbent mood this year, especially after long time Sen. Bob Bennett’s demise, it’s clear that John McCain feels he has to do whatever it takes to hold his seat in the Senate, regardless of whether what he’s doing to accomplish it further destroys what once was a respected, if not perfect, reputation.
Put McCain up to Barry Goldwater and what you get is a paltry comparison with Goldwater at least learning a few things, especially on gay rights, while being unwilling to sell his soul.
McCain tried to tack to Goldwater’s theory of the religious right, but it cost him big in South Carolina back in 2000, a moment in political history that changed McCain forever.
“When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.” – Barry Goldwater
We’re reminded of something else out of the Goldwater era, which applies to McCain and other Republicans today, including Mitt Romney, as the GOP establishment faces the wrath of the Tea Party movement.
“The election results of 1964 seemed to demonstrate Thomas Dewey’s prediction about what would happen if the parties were realigned on an ideological basis: ‘The Democrats would win every election and the Republicans would lose every election.’” – Arthur Schlesinger (quoted in “Before the Storm,” by historian Rick Perlstein)
There is little doubt today that incumbents are taking tremendous heat in the lead up to 2010, as is represented by John McCain’s craven caving to the squealing wingnuts over border issues, which cannot be solved by militarizing or fence building. The Tea Party activists on the right, most of whom are Republicans or disaffected conservative Dems, are leading politicians like McCain to move to their way of thinking for the midterm election, but come the national presidential election these choices offer less solace for the national Republican party.
As seen with Sarah Palin’s Tea Party popularity, the hard ideological right wing brand of politics can get out the vote in midterms. However, the negative bent it takes can also depress the vote, because people are far less excited about the prospects offered looking forward, which includes Democratic choices. The politicians from the big two parties from which we have to choose really offering little choice at all, though not even the Tea Party is a panacea, as Palin’s endorsement of Carly Fiorina proves.
We’re now into a Sarah Palin, Charlie Crist, and Joe Sestak era of political independence, less so with Sestak though he is bucking the national party, the winds of which have Sen. John McCain careening once again to gain approval and votes. This time it’s not from the Republican establishment, but from the rag tag Tea Party rabble McCain is trying desperately to appease.
The 1964 Arthur Schlesinger ideology test won’t apply this year.