I’m delighted the NYT noticed.
Senator John McCain likes to present himself as the candidate of the “Straight Talk Express” who does not pander to voters or change his positions with the political breeze. But the fine print of his record in the Senate indicates that he has been a lot less consistent on some of his signature issues than he has presented himself to be so far in his presidential campaign.
Mr. McCain, who derided his onetime Republican competitor Mitt Romney for his political mutability, has himself meandered over the years from position to position on some topics, particularly as he has tried to court the conservatives who have long distrusted him.
For its part, the McCain campaign told the Times that the senator “has evolved rather than switched positions in his 25-year career.” That’s a perfectly sensible spin — when a politician holds one position, and then, for apparently political reasons, decides to embrace the polar opposite position, it’s only natural for his or her aides to say the politician’s position has “evolved.”
But in McCain’s case, the spin is wholly unfulfilling. First, McCain sells himself as a pol who never sways with the wind, and whose willingness to be consistent in the face of pressure is proof of his character. Second, Republicans have spent the last four years or so making policy reversals the single most serious political crime in presidential politics. The dreaded “flip-flop” is, according to the GOP, the latest cardinal sin for someone seeking national office.
And if we’re playing by Republican rules, McCain’s “inconsistencies” should be a fairly serious problem.
John Amato: Bob Somerby concurs:
As we mentioned last week, a ten-year love affair with McCain seems to be reaching its end at the Times. That, of course, is a very good thing; journalists aren’t supposed to conduct love affairs with Big Major Pols. Then too, they aren’t supposed to stage 16-year wars—vendettas built on open loathing. But that’s what they did with the Clintons and Gore—and it’s too late to roll that one back.