Jack Cafferty injects some much needed sanity into the conversation as Gloria Borger and Michael Gerson seem to still be living in the 20th century, when John McCain used to be somewhat independent from the rest of the bottom-feeders in the Republican Party.
CAFFERTY: John McCain was opposed to the Bush tax cuts until he decided he was for them. John McCain was opposed to offshore drilling before he decided he was for it. John McCain, in his years in the Senate, has voted with the Bush administration between 90 and 95 percent of the time. So this...this maverick stuff is a lot of hooey. And for him to claim that he's some sort of Washington outsider who has -- who's divorced from the Bush administration is the ultimate hypocrisy.
[...] If any Republican can overcome the wretched stain of eight years of George Bush and win the White House, we deserve whatever bad things will happen to us.
After his flip flop on the Bush tax cuts, offshore drilling, campaign finance, immigration reform, the religious right, negative campaigning, torture, etc., etc., I don't see how it's possible for anyone to go on television and say with a straight face that McCain is still the "maverick" of the 2000 election. Perhaps his adoring fans in the media are just having a tough time coming to grips with the fact that their old buddy is no longer recognizable.
Transcript below the fold:
BLITZER: You know, Michael, Senator McCain did something extraordinary today. He released a new ad in which he not only wants to not only distance himself from President Bush, but he goes after him.
Listen to this little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JOHN MCCAIN FOR PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Washington's broken. John McCain knows it. We're worse off than we were four years ago. Only McCain has taken on big tobacco, drug companies, fought corruption in both parties. He'll reform Wall Street, battle big oil, make America prosper again. He's the original maverick.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right. Michael, I mean, the fact that he's going after a sitting Republican president, a president almost for eight years, and saying Washington is broken, we're worse off than were four years ago, that's pretty extraordinary.
GERSON: It is pretty extraordinary, but it's also pretty understandable. John McCain has at least two advantages going into these things. He's not the vice president of a sitting president. He has actually been a pain in the neck for this president in many ways and he might as well get some credit for it.
GERSON: And I think the reality also is that he's been a pain of the neck for leadership of Congress for 20 some years. And he might as well get credit for that, too. He is genuinely disliked by many establishment elements of the Republican Party. He was chosen to be the nominee because of -- in spite of this.
But, in fact, I think he's doing better than any of the other primary candidates would be doing at this point precisely because he's not identified either closely with the administration or with the Republican Congress, which was deeply discredited.
BORGER: Well, and when you look at polls, you know, McCain is his own brand. And he's running ahead of Republicans in Congressional races and in Senate races because people do identify him separately.
And I might add, the theme that Washington is broken is kind of a theme that everyone agrees on. And both of these candidates are competing as to who's got the best way to fix it. And McCain has a story to tell here.
CAFFERTY: John McCain was opposed to the Bush tax cuts until he decided he was for them.
CAFFERTY: John McCain was opposed to offshore drilling before he decided he was for it. John McCain, in his years in the Senate, has voted with the Bush administration between 90 and 95 percent of the time. So this...
BORGER: Well, that's the Obama ad.
CAFFERTY: ...this maverick stuff is a lot of hooey. And for him to claim that he's some sort of Washington outsider who has -- who's divorced from the Bush administration is the ultimate hypocrisy.
BLITZER: Well, let's...
BLITZER: Hold on, Michael.
GERSON: OK. BLITZER: I want you to respond to that.
BLITZER: But listen to this new ad that the Obama campaign just released specifically on this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM BARACK OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the original maverick.
MCCAIN: The president and I agree on most issues. There was a recent study that showed that I voted with the president over 90 percent of the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain supports Bush's tax cuts for millionaires, but nothing for 100 million households. He's for billions in new oil company giveaways, while gas prices soar and for tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
The original maverick or just more of the same?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, you get the point, Michael.
GERSON: Yes, I do get the point. But if you look at the issues, you look at immigration, you look at torture, you look at campaign finance reform, you look at a variety of these issues, McCain has bucked his party.
I would challenge anyone to name a single area where Barack Obama bucked the liberal consensus of his party. And I think it's a real contrast.
BORGER: But then the question is why are these Republicans supporting John McCain, who they've loved to hate for the last 25 years?
GERSON: Because, I mean he -- I think he was supported in the primaries simply because he had the best chance. I think there are plenty of conservatives that are willing to hold their nose and vote for him. And, you know, I think that that's the main argument for the McCain candidacy and he needs to press it.
CAFFERTY: If any Republican can overcome the wretched stain of eight years of George Bush and win the White House, we deserve whatever bad things will happen to us.