Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mr. Moderation

Senator John McCain has the reputation as the wingnut (extreme conservative) whom moonbats (liberals and lefties) love. The thinking goes like this: McCain may be a wingnut, but he is a heroic one, and he sometimes speaks truth to power, taking on the wingnut establishment and arguing about the proper alignment of the cannons and the rifles, all aimed at us.

As you can see I have never been in the McCain fan club. He may be a wonderful guy. He may be a guy I'd love to get drunk with. But I don't want him as my president. Krugman agrees in his latest New York Times column which spells out the connections between McCain and that other Republican moderate, Jerry Falwell (behind the paywall, but I'm drilling little holes in it):

But if you choose to make common cause with religious extremists, you are accepting some responsibility for their extremism. By welcoming Mr. Falwell and people like him as members of their party, Republicans are saying that it's O.K. — not necessarily correct, but O.K. — to declare that 9/11 was America's punishment for its tolerance of abortion and homosexuality, that Islam is a terrorist religion, and that Jews can't go to heaven. And voters should judge the Republican Party accordingly.

As for Mr. McCain: his denunciation of Mr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson six years ago helped give him a reputation as a moderate on social issues. Now that he has made up with Mr. Falwell and endorsed South Dakota's ban on abortion even in the case of rape or incest, only two conclusions are possible: either he isn't a social moderate after all, or he's a cynical political opportunist.

McCain would like to have the head of Janus, that two-sided god of change. This would let him look like an arch-wingnut when he turns his noble profile towards the right and like a fairly-reasonable-guy when he looks at us on the left, and then he could get the votes of everybody. What he would do with the power those votes would bring him is a whole different story.
For more on the rehabilitation of Falwell's image as a moderate Christian, see this article by Media Matters for America.