Monday, February 19, 2007


The Once and Future McCain

Many unaffiliated voters once looked to John McCain for his independence and moderation on social issues. Now, with his embrace of the religious right and the president's double down policy in Iraq, those same voters are deserting him in droves.

"McCain’s support has declined among unaffiliated voters," according to the Rasmussen Reports. Where McCain once ran ahead of every Democratic challenger in every Rasmussen Reports poll, he now runs behind both Obama and Edwards.

As The Nation's Max Blumenthal notes in an opinion piece posted on the CBS News website: "McCain and his handlers were working to burnish his conservative credentials to win over wary Republican primary voters."
The effort began with McCain's May 2006 graduation speech at Liberty University, a school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, whom McCain had dubbed an "agent of intolerance" during his rancorous 2000 run for the presidency. His makeover continues on February 23, when he is scheduled to speak before the Discovery Institute, the right-wing think tank that has attempted to introduce into public school biology classes the teaching of Intelligent Design.
After the Republican debacle in the last election when the GOP lost control of both the Senate and the House, we were assured that the party would re-examine its unholy reliance on the religious right. We were even told that fundamentalists, disillusioned by the Republicans failure to deliver on guns, gays, and abortion, might withdraw from politics altogether.

Despite those reassurances, the nation has been treated to the guilty pleasure of McCain's soap opera conversion from straight-talking independent to Bush Mini-Me and social moderate to Old Testament prophet in order to win the Republican nomination for president.

Karl Marx famously wrote that "religion is the opium of the people." However, like Kevin Federline, that statement seems hopelessly outdated now. Maybe we should re-write it for the Karl Rove generation: "the religious right is the hillbilly heroin of the Republican party."

Perhaps, as some claimed not so long ago, Republicans really wish they knew how to quit the religious right, but to do that they would have to sacrifice their grand ambitions for political power, and that's something -- as the sad, sorry spectacle of McCain, Giuliani, and Romney wooing the fundamentalists clearly demonstrates -- they'll never do.

Unless the voters stage an intervention with Republicans like McCain, Giuliani, and Romney, they will never go cold turkey on their own.


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