Why the Hate for McCain?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008


Here’s what I’m wondering: Why are conservative yappers like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh so afraid of John McCain? Yeah, he sponsored McCain-Feingold. But President Bush signed the damn thing into law. Bush took us to war in Iraq. McCain will keep us there–for 50 years or more, he says. President Bush is rattling his saber at Iran. McCain has all but guaranteed that if he’s elected, we’ll go to war with them. And just about everyone else.

McCain wants to expand the federal government’s role in health care and education, but it’s tough to see how he could do much worse than the prescription drug benefit and No Child Left Behind, both hallmarks of the Bush presidency. President Bush has been talking a tough talk on pork barrel spending. But that’s traditionally been one of the few issues where McCain’s been good. Conservatives say McCain is soft on immigration. But his primary position (build a wall, enforcement first) is well to the right of what President Bush has advocated the last few years. McCain has also promised to nominate more Supreme Court justices in the tradition of Roberts and Alito. He’s pro-life. About the only issue I can think of where McCain is well to the left of Bush is torture. Is that really the issue conservatives want to use for separation?

Personally, I find McCain pretty loathesome, and his public service/national greatness fetishes creepy. Not to mention the very real possibility of the three words that ought to scare the bejezus out of any liberty-minded person: “Attorney General Giuliani.” But I can’t figure out why the 30-percenters still enamored with President Bush seem to hate McCain so much. Is it just sheer personality? Leftovers from the 2000 election? If it’s because he’s the GOP’s “maverick,” well, that just ain’t true.

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35 Responses to “Why the Hate for McCain?”

  1. #1 |  Zeb | 

    I suspect that they hate him just because (for a similarly obscure reason), liberals seem to be more OK with McCain than other republicans.

  2. #2 |  TLB | 

    “But his primary position (build a wall, enforcement first) is well to the right of what President Bush has advocated the last few years.”

    1. It’s not a wall, it’s a “fence”; I’m sure you can find pictures online if you aren’t familiar with the term.
    2. He’s expressed “doubts”, to say the least, about the fence.
    3. He pushed an amnesty, and he said he’d sign it just a week ago, then backtracked.

    Plus, there’s this.

  3. #3 |  BobzBob | 

    It is similar to the irrational hate they have for Bill and Hilary.

  4. #4 |  chsw | 

    Even with his record, McCain appears to be a better candidate for civil liberties than Her Royal Clintoness.


    This election, dont be a Jackass.

  5. #5 |  nom de guerre | 

    naaaah, it’s that mccain *reminds us* of bill & hilly. mendacious, unprincipled power-mad statists who’ll say or do anything to get elected, and then resume their little plot to nationalize the country. while leaving the borders unguarded. bottom line: scumbuckets who want the job TOO much. the rule is just exactly the same as the one with cops: anyone who wants the job that much should never be allowed anywhere near it.

    then too, just as with bill & hillary, there’s that whole “unable to control his temper” deal. plus the poor impulse control.

  6. #6 |  Bot | 

    Some insight into the mind of a McCain hater.

  7. #7 |  UCrawford | 

    I think they hate him because they realize that he’s just a more vicious version of Mitt Romney…there isn’t a position he holds that he won’t back off on if he thinks it can get him elected to the White House. The lunatic fringe of the GOP may be a bunch of crazy, millenarian fascists, but they still recognize the hypocrite in John McCain.

    By the way, McCain isn’t really all that opposed to torture. He talks a good game and the MCA put limitations on what the military could do for interrogation, but he still left the loophole for the intel services to carry on (likely so that agents who participated in “aggressive” interrogations couldn’t be prosecuted under our laws). On a side note, I wonder how he justifies that with his experiences in Vietnam? If he actually believes in the ethical guidelines of the MCA logically it follows that as long as the people beating the hell out of him for all those years were part of the intel services and not the military he had no real reason to complain about his treatment.

    Self-serving hypocrisy like that is why this libertarian military vet’s opinion soured on the man…so kudos to the religious right for picking up on it too.

  8. #8 |  norman | 

    The one good thing about McCain-Feingold is it keeps union and corporate money out. The worst thing about McCain-Feingold is it curtails individual free speech.


  9. #9 |  UCrawford | 

    And I think the picture you’ve chosen for your post is the most telling portrait of the man. He spent all that time telling us how Bush was wrong when it suited him to oppose Bush, but once he thought he saw an opening to advance politically he was more than happy to suck up to Dubya…regardless of how many military personnel died solely because of Bush’s incompetence and chickenhawk grandstanding.

  10. #10 |  Leonson | 

    Unbridled ambition. I find him contemptably fake, willing to say or do anything to get elected. But then, I’ve never been enamored with Bush either.

    The only candidate I actually liked in this round was Thompson.

    I tend to vote for the ‘R’s because they’re always more likely to protect my causes (and actually win office) than the ‘D’s.

  11. #11 |  chuck | 

    I think it’s because Romney is the repub’s man. The TN Republicans switched their endorsements to Romney when Fred dropped out. I feel Romney was the establishment Repub’s man the whole time.

    And I honestly believe the Repubs want Hillary to win.
    1. They gave southern conservatives Guiliani, McCain, and Romney (non-conservatives in some way or the other) (fred was an after-thought).
    2. Who else has better said they’ll continue Bush’s policies of enhanced executive power, enhanced executive secrecy, continued/enhanced war, and continued/enhanced welfare state?

    Hillary is the Repubs man! (makes me sick and I dont understand it)

  12. #12 |  George | 

    Radley — you make excellent points, except for the notion that opposing torture is to the left of Bush. Huh? Anti-torture is a crunchy-Con principle and a principle of limited government conservatives. The left is pretty well known for you-can’t-make-an-omlette-without-breaking-some-eggs.

  13. #13 |  Bot | 

    Romney is the social conservative republican’s man.

  14. #14 |  B | 

    What bothers me about the ascension of McCain is that it signifies that the single issue uniting rank and file Republicans (i.e., primary voters) is waging perpetual war.

    I think the Republican elites (i.e., Limbaugh, Colter, Dobson) hate him because he’s done this without their help (indeed, in spite of their opposition.)

    Needless to say, this particular combination of observations leaves me feeling somewhat conflicted McCain’s success.

  15. #15 |  Jeff Hebert | 

    I’ve been wondering the same thing, and have asked some of my Republican friends about it. I think this quote from Dobson pretty much sums it up: “I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are. He has at times sounded more like a member of the other party. McCain actually considered leaving the GOP in 2001, and approached John Kerry about being Kerry’s running mate in 2004. McCain also said publicly that Hillary Clinton would make a good president. Given these and many other concerns, a spoonful of sugar does not make the medicine go down.”

    It would be like if Joe Lieberman were running for the Democratic nomination. You expect your political opponents to be against you, that’s why they’re opponents. But it’s another thing altogether when someone on your side betrays you, as Lieberman is perceived to have done to the Dems and McCain to the Rs. It’s not even so much about policy positions, it’s about the “aid and comfort” he’s given to “the enemy”.

    The greatest sin a Republican can commit is to badmouth other Republicans. The SECOND greatest sin, which McCain is very guilty of, is in not hating liberals sufficiently. That’s what really sticks in their craws; he’s been too soft in accommodating the other side, and the powers-that-be just can’t have that.

    Note that McCain’s support among Republican voters is actually very strong. It’s the party movers and shakers who hate him. That’s because Republican voters care about running the country, whereas Republican pundits care about hating liberals.

  16. #16 |  Saladman | 

    It may be that they recognize that Bush wasn’t a conservative, and they recognize the damage McCain could do in furthering Bush’s domestic agenda for 4 or 8 more years, and the vitriol is a way to save face while urging a change in direction.

    Limbaugh at least has said on the air that Bush isn’t a conservative, just a Republican. I don’t know what Coulter has said on the issue.

  17. #17 |  Elroy | 

    Conservatives aren’t that enamored with Bush either. Remember Harriet Miers, immigration reform. Bush campaigned as far more conservative than he has acted as president. The hatred of McCain stems from his dislike of the conservative base of the republican party and his attempts to undermine it.

    As for the war in Iraq, I get fed up hearing people talk about it as if not going to war were a “no brainer” decision. Plenty of good intelligent people had strong feelings on both sides of the issue. I guess we will find out for certain in about 50 years whether it was the right decision or not.

    One thing though, many conservatives who supported Bush only for his stance on the war on terror will have to start to wonder if going through 8 more years of a Bush-like presidency is worth it to get a president who supports the war on terror. But aside from Ron Paul, who isn’t like Bush on the Republican side?

  18. #18 |  Tokin42 | 

    The 3 biggest issues according to Republican voters are the war on terror, immigration, and taxes. McCain is seen as weak on 2 of the 3.

    After McCain-Feingold I swore there was no way I’d ever vote for McCain but if it comes down to either him or hillary, well, that’s not really a hard choice.

    McCain has taken great pleasure at poking his fellow republicans whenever he gets the chance. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that people don’t forget that when it comes to running for national office.

  19. #19 |  Maurice | 

    I don’t think they “fear” him as you say. More like they fear what he’d do as a Presidential. As a Libertarian who is fiscally conservative and favors constructivism in our judiciary I’ve found it rather easy over the course of the last 20 years to consistently vote Republican. Why? Because Democrats have consistently advocated intrusive and illiberal big government policies as the cure-all for every societal ill. Tired of the Republican’s asinine War on Drugs? Well elect Democrats and get a War on Fat, a War on Sugar, War on Smoking, and a War on Gun Ownership as well. In each and every election the Reps always seemed to be able to provide a candidate that just seemed like the lesser evil every time. Not this time. McCaine is not a lesser evil. He’s also not a conservative, he’s not a liberal, he’s not a libertarian, he’s not a constructionist, he’s not…well it’s easier to just say what he is – he’s an opportunist. John McCaine cares about John McCaine. He’ll adopt whatever strategies he thinks will get him elected.

    Amnesty for illegal aliens is horrendously unpopular among the American public, John McCaine says he’s changed his mind on the issue but in reality he would institutionalize it. The occupation of Iraq needs to end, he says he’s “against the failed policies of the Bush Administration” but he’d keep us in Iraq for decades perpetuating those mistakes. He’ll say what he thinks it takes to get ahead, then screw us first chance he gets. That’s why folks like me won’t vote for him. This year, I break with tradition. No longer will I choose the lesser of two evils, this year I vote for pure evil. Hillary all the way.

  20. #20 |  Sam | 

    Super Tuesday was HUGE!

    So..I’m just thinking…there is a strategy for Mitt Romney coming out of a day like today:


    There…there is it. It’s a strategy overlooked by the mainstream media.

    I think it’s great.

  21. #21 |  Adam W. | 

    “Attorney General Giuliani.” God Radley, don’t even joke about that. Halloween’s still a ways off.

  22. #22 |  CK | 

    Methinks they doth protest too much.
    What the next president will face and fail at:
    Economic depression
    China’s ascention
    Global resource consolidation by a nation 10x the size of the USA.
    Food price inflation
    State and municipalities having to cut services, schooling, expenditures to the bone due to falling real estate and income tax incomes.
    5 losing military adventures ( 6 if the USA does something stupid with regards to Iran )
    A thoroughly crippled army and marines.
    The dollar becoming a local currency and consequently rapid devaluation of the dollar in international trade.
    3 Trillion Dollar plus blow out in the CDO, CDS, Pier Loans, LBO markets.
    The largest prison population on earth … prisoners not for crimes against humans or property but for the exercise of private preferences.
    The Boomer retirement. Brains and creativity leaving the productive arena to the whiniest, least creative, least energetic generations this country has ever seen.
    Total failure of the local education system. What once produced at least acceptable wage slaves now produces mass illiterates at higher costs.
    Now ask yourself, do you want your party to be the one in power when this shit hits the fan? Having been in power the 8 years previous, no way to spin it as a dem issue; if the repubs win this year. All the above remain their baby and they can breast feed it as best they can in public. I think the repubs want to guarantee that they lose the presidency this year and at best hold their heads above water in the senate and house. If McCain wins, that is another dem senator appointed. Does McCain have any coattails to draw downticket support?
    Last night, McCain won his home state, OK, and a bunch of democratic states that will not vote republican. Huckabee took his home state, and the south. Romney took alaska, montana, ND and his home states. ( 3 for 3 in his home states so far ).
    There be monsters ahead, big ugly scaly firebreathing asset devouring monsters. And when it comes time to face monsters, Republicans are always ready to let a woman face them.

  23. #23 |  Dave Krueger | 

    nom de guerre: “…anyone who wants the job that much should never be allowed anywhere near it…”

    Truer words were never spoken and descriptive of almost all the current candidates.

    I went to vote yesterday, looked at the ballot, and yelled out, “Is this some kind of friggin’ joke? These are all idiots!” Then I tore it up and stormed out before they could tase me down and send me off to a secret eastern block prison.

  24. #24 |  Matt Moore | 

    Bush signed McCain-Feingold, but he didn’t really support it. He didn’t want to expend the political capital that using a veto would entail when he felt sure that the Supreme Court would find the law unconstitutional.

    Obviously he miscalculated.

    The real reason “conservatives” hate McCain is religion. He’s just not loud enough about Jesus to be seen as a social conservative.

  25. #25 |  witless chum | 

    “It would be like if Joe Lieberman were running for the Democratic nomination. You expect your political opponents to be against you, that’s why they’re opponents. But it’s another thing altogether when someone on your side betrays you, as Lieberman is perceived to have done to the Dems and McCain to the Rs. It’s not even so much about policy positions, it’s about the “aid and comfort” he’s given to “the enemy”.”

    I think this is it. I was talking to my boss about this the other day. Liberals (like me) can’t stand Lieberman despite that fact that, on most issues, he’s not a bad Democrat. We can’t stand him because 1.) he defects on important issues 2.) he gets praised to the heavens for doing do. McCain gets the same thing.

  26. #26 |  The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » Open Thread: Chances Of A Brokered Convention? | 

    […] to reach 1191. There’s a lot of establishment resistance to his candidacy, although like Radley Balko, I’m not sure why, and between Romney and Huckabee, they could win enough states to keep the game alive, and […]

  27. #27 |  KozmoD | 

    Why do they hate John McCain ? Because that is what right wingers do. They hate. They got nothin else.

  28. #28 |  nom de guerre | 

    *brilliant* analysis there, kozmo. care to let us know why leftwingers “hate hate hate” bush, cheney, reagan, limbaugh, all the conservative USSC justices and so many more?

  29. #29 |  Woog | 

    “Bush signed McCain-Feingold, but he didn’t really support it. He didn’t want to expend the political capital that using a veto would entail when he felt sure that the Supreme Court would find the law unconstitutional.”

    Obviously then, assuming the above to be 100% true, Bush isn’t too keen on upholding his sworn oath of office of supporting and defending the supreme law of the land…

  30. #30 |  Josh | 

    I think Tokin42 probably hits the nail on the head, although when it comes to Limbaugh, tax cuts come before immigration and the war on terror. Nevermind that McCain’s record on spending is “restrained” (by Senate standards), supply-siders don’t care about the spending side, only tax cuts. So McCain’s sin of voting against the tax cuts of ’01 & ’03 (something I’m not fond of, BTW) is unforgivable for Limbaugh & Co. When you add to that his compromised (from a conservative standpoint) views on immigration and the war on terror (not torturing detainees…..perish the thought), McCain’s other conservative credentials just don’t matter to the Limbaugh crowd.

    I’d agree though, while there’s plenty to find troubling about McCain, for conservatives who absolutely hate Clinton, their opposition to McCain is inexplicable, even if he isn’t in lockstep with every position.

  31. #31 |  Jack Lyons | 

    McCain is all for John McCain.
    Vote for him?
    Never in a million years!

  32. #32 |  links for 2008-02-08 « Romulo Lopez Cordero | 

    […] The Agitator » Blog Archive » Why the Hate for McCain? Yeah why hardcore conservatives hate McCain? (tags: McCain Elections republicans) […]

  33. #33 |  Cooltruth | 

    McCain might be running against Barack instead of Hillary. I think that might make a better contest than if Hillary wins the Democrat nomination. McCain & Hillary could degenerate into a real smooze-fest as they aren’t THAT far apart on a lot of issues. I strongly preferred Ron Paul over any of the other candidates. May consider voting for Barack if he gets the nomination. I’m not particularly interested in voting for either Hillary or McCain. Writing in Ron Paul (or possibly voting for Steve Kubby) if it comes down to Hillary vs McCain as what the two major parties want us choosing between for our President!

  34. #34 |  Paul | 

    I keep hearing this man say We must stay in Iraq the war until we win.

    What does win mean?

    Where is the game plan?

    This Man is nuts we are BLOWING 2 TRillion a year on WHAT?

    We have Killed over 200,000 what is the number? You can not answer any of this until you answer #1 and 2.

  35. #35 |  Word | Free The Animal | 

    […] Exactly. McCain is loathsome because Bush is loathsome. You people drawing silly distinctions are just silly and […]