Following up on the question of defining McCain, here are a couple of items that caught my eye today:
- Matt Yglesias notes that McCain's voting scores tell an interesting tale: in the 107th Senate (just after the 2000 election) he was one of the most moderate Republican senators (after a reliably conservative career); in the 108th he shifted back to the right; and in the 109th, which includes his presidential run, only one other Senator has been more conservative. In other words, he shifted left (i.e., voted against Bush) when he was still angry about 2000, and shifted right again when he needed conservative support to run for president. Flip vs. Flop.
- Also: he was against torture before he was for it. Flip vs. Flop.
- And an article by Dana Milbank in today's WaPo suggests that the L-word might just get some traction:
In a broader sense, there was a whole lot of nose-holding across the Commonwealth yesterday as McCain made off with much less of a victory than expected. The relatively tight race in Virginia, and widespread rejection of McCain in rural Virginia, told the larger story of McCain's effort to cement his all-but-official claim on the GOP nomination: Though the conservative establishment is slowly reaching for the nose clips, the McCain scent has proved stubborn and noxious....Generally speaking, when you're running for high office, appearing as an object of pity in the national press is...sub-optimal.
McCain clearly didn't beat the spread, even though he was playing against an unranked opponent, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who has no hope of winning the title. And this means grass-roots conservatives weren't following the plays called by Allen and other conservative leaders on the sidelines....
The vote was undeniably a conservative protest against the candidate and the conservative leaders who lent McCain their grudging and half-hearted endorsements since the exit of Mitt Romney from the race last week. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who last month said "the thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," this week endorsed McCain. So did Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who last month asked why conservatives "shouldn't be physically ill at the prospects of a President McCain"....
Using phrases such as "whether we like it or not," conservatives this week have steadily stepped forward to endorse the presumptive nominee. But it has been a joyless affair.
Other Update: the Milbank piece suggests an ad: a bunch of anti-McCain soundbites from Thad Cochran et al. (including Rush Limbaugh, if he ends up endorsing McCain) with the tagline "McCain: his supporters don't like him; why should you?"