Category Archives: Republicans

The many faces of John McCain

I’m not convinced by Jacob Weisberg’s argument that John McCain’s not really a conservative. The idea seems to be that, sure, if you look at his voting record he’s an ultraconservative, but if you look at his offhand comments you see that in his heart he’s really a progressive. He just has to throw a little red meat to the base every once in a while, consisting of almost every vote he’s ever made in his Senate career.
Even if he does have more liberal personal views than his voting record indicates, it’s the votes that actually matter. The fact that he’ll make moderate statements about abortion or gay rights doesn’t do a lot of good when he’s voting the other way. The only way this argument could work is if there’s reason to expect him to be more moderate as president. But the political pressure from the Republican base doesn’t go away the day after the election—just look at the trouble Bush got into with Harriet Myers. In fact, there’s no reason whatsoever to think McCain would make policy differently as President than he does as Senator.
Let’s consider the reverse hypothesis: McCain is actually an ultraconservative, but is trying to play to the moderate center in order to boost his presidential prospects. This actually explains the data better—the meaningless public statements placate moderates, while the ultimate policy decisions are still very right-wing. Now, I’m sure there is still some calculation going on in his recent appeals to the religious conservatives; no one as intelligent as McCain is going to view Jerry Falwell as anything other than loathsome. But in fact Falwell is so loathsome that cozying up to him goes beyond just political calculation: it’s just plain unprincipled. I’ll pass, thanks.

And there was much rejoicing

Tom DeLay is leaving Congress. I feel like I should have a bottle of champagne reserved for this occasion, but I honestly thought he would attempt to keep his seat even from a prison cell. Maybe I should throw a party when he officially resigns.
Ah, memories. DeLay was an important factor in turning me into the staunch Democrat I am today. I think the first time I heard of him was in 1999, when he was majority whip and blamed the Columbine shooting on the teaching of evolution. (I was just starting to follow politics around that time.) I figured something had gone seriously wrong with the Republican party if they were willing to put a guy like that in a leadership position. And that was before I knew about all the corruption.

More Bush Cronyism, Absolutism

Apparently one of the lessons George W. Bush took away from the Harriet Miers fiasco was that if he wants to appoint unqualified cronies, he should bypass that pesky Senate. Yesterday evening he made seventeen recess appointments, including at least one egregiously unsuited candidate.
It’s hard not to see this in the present context of the administration asserting its right to ignore the law in order to torture detainees and spy on US citizens. Bush really does believe that Congress is irrelevant as far as the executive is concerned.
A lot of people are suggesting that Bush is acting like a king. Well, yeah. He’s been acting like a king ever since he decided he was qualified to be president solely because his father had held the office. When we elect presidents on a hereditary basis, it should be no surprise that they start thinking they’re monarchs…

Miers back to proofreading memos

Just yesterday I told someone that Bush wouldn’t withdraw the Harriet Miers nomination, due to his inability to admit mistakes. Well, so much for that (although it was done in a way so that Bush didn’t have to admit a mistake). If that’s the way it’s going to work, I would also like to predict that Patrick Fitzgerald won’t bring indictments against high-ranking Bush administration officials, and that our lab will fail to produce a working qubit next week. Go ahead, universe: prove me wrong.
It’s a little sad to see Miers go, because I was really enjoying watching Republicans rend each other’s flesh. Now Bush worship is back in style. According to a couple of sources, it’s traditional at this point for the president to present a “fuck you” nomination. If he’s blaming the social conservative wing for stopping Miers, this presumably means nominating Alberto Gonzales. That could certainly be an amusing fight, but a little more distressing in light of Gonzales’ unusual legal theory that the president should have absolute power.
Or Bush might try to appease the James Dobsons and Ann Coulters, and nominate someone who would vote to overturn Roe and Griswold. (Side question: How long would the Republicans stay in power if they managed to overturn Griswold and started outlawing contraception? It seems to me that this position would be just slightly unpopular. Presumably the party strategists know this, and won’t let it happen.)

DeLay! Indicted!

DeLay indicted, will step aside as majority leader
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post.
DeLay’s attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay’s national political committee.
“I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today,” DeLay said.

I honestly didn’t think it would happen—I figured DeLay was untouchably powerful.

That popping sound was my lingering respect for McCain finally evaporating.

Hey, remember in 2000 when John McCain said this:

We are the party of Ronald Reagan not Pat Robertson. We are the party of Theodore Roosevelt not the party of special interests. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln not Bob Jones.

He’s changed his mind.

On Tuesday, though, he sided with the president on two issues that have made headlines recently: teaching intelligent design in schools and Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who has come to personify the anti-war movement.
McCain told the Star that, like Bush, he believes “all points of view” should be available to students studying the origins of mankind.

I had thought that McCain was one of the better Republicans on science issues, but I guess he, too, has decided he wants to live in the 1800’s. To welcome you to Team Ignorance, your complimentary Leeches ‘N Bloodletting Home Medical Kit will be arriving shortly! (Via Pharyngula.)