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April 14, 2005
McCain Sells Out Again, This Time On Judiciary

Senator John McCain appeared on Hardball within the last hour to inform Chris Matthews and the MS-NBC audience that he would refuse to vote for the so-called "nuclear option", the rule change that would disallow filibusters on executive nominations for the federal bench. He stated that he would vote with the Democrats to uphold the notion that a legislative minority has the right to dictate to the executive branch who their nominees should be:

MATTHEWS: But bottom line, would you vote for whats called the nuclear option, to get rid of the filibuster rule on judgeships?

MCCAIN: No I will not.

MATTHEWS: You will stick with the party?

MCCAIN: No, I will vote against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS: You will vote

MCCAIN: Against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS: Oh, you will?


I initially heard this exchange on the Hugh Hewitt show, and I almost choked when Hugh referred to McCain as a "great American," in Hugh's classy way of framing the debate. I cannot support that notion. McCain served his country admirably in Viet Nam, but his career as a politician contains nothing but a series of sell-outs and the worst kind of self-promotion.

This self-described "maverick" started his Senate career by peddling his influence to Charles Keating, who fleeced the FSLIC for billions of dollars. McCain claimed to be the least tarnished of the Keating 5 and the least culpable, but in the meantime his family had invested heavily in Keating's businesses and traveling on Keating junkets to the Bahamas and other fancy vacations.

After having sold Arizonans out to a crook, McCain took on the appearance of a reformer by climbing aboard the campaign-finance reform bandwagon. He made headlines and became a media darling by claiming that money unduly influenced politics, after claiming that the investments and gifts of Keating had nothing to do with his actions in defending Keating's businesses. This work culminated in the BCRA, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act, perhaps the single most successful attack on free political speech in a century. It cemented his persona as a reformer.

However, a closer look earlier this year shows that to be a clumsy facade. His Reform Institute channels big money from leftists like George Soros to keep his campaign staff employed while decrying the checkbook politics that funds his vanity program. McCain, in essence, has created the same kind of mechanism he supposedly decries by building a shelter for unaccountable donations that exists to glorify John McCain and keep him in the public eye. He sold out the Constitution to make himself look good on the news shows and to cover the stink from his first term.

Now he's sold out the Republicans and the majority of the country that elected a GOP president and extended the GOP majority in the Senate. McCain offers as an excuse the threats of the Democrats who insist on governing from the minority:

Second of all, we ought to be able to work it out. Third of all I dont want to shut down the Senate. Were in a war. Were in a war. Shouldnt we be doing the peoples business?

Filling empty bench seats is the people's business. Where did McCain get the idea that the people don't care who gets nominated for federal appellate seats? And if McCain doesn't want to shut down the Senate, then he should tell Harry Reid to stop his extortion racket and tell his Democrats to start showing up for committee assignments, starting with the Judiciary Committee. Giving in to extortion isn't courageous or great; it's political cowardice, and unfortunately, it's all too typical of the so-called "maverick".

McCain was a brave man in Viet Nam. He became a craven politician a long time ago, however, and almost everything he's done since shows that he hasn't changed a bit. If I still lived in Arizona, I'd be looking for ways to recall him from office immediately. It's time for the GOP to quit kissing McCain's ass and apply another extremity to it with noticeable force -- and to strip him of his committee assignments as soon as possible. Let him switch parties if he likes. He's useless and a disgrace as a Republican.

Addendum: Let's return to this notion of McCain's that the filibuster should be preserved in case liberals grab a majority in the Senate and win the White House some time in the future. He warns that a bunch of liberal judges would get confirmed if that happens. Well, pardon my sense of equity, but in those circumstances they should. Clearly that would reflect the will and disposition of the electorate, and judicial nominations being one of the reasons for electing both branches of the government, such an outcome would be entirely appropriate. Filibusters that foist the will of the minority onto the majority, especially for processes that clearly have a Constitutional threshold for majority rule, make little sense regardless of who holds power.

Besides, by caving in, what difference does it make? McCain has just enabled the Democrats to stall until Bush nominates the liberal judges the minority desires and the electorate rejected. It now makes absolutely no difference what the American voter wants, thanks to the sellout from Arizona.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 14, 2005 6:57 PM

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