July 17, 2008

Sure sounds like it. The Kansas City Star's Dave Helling interviewed John McCain after a town hall meeting Thursday in Kansas City and had this little exchange about one of the Republican nominee's stump speech attacks.

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Helling: You talked about a little bit about Senator Obama today. You said he was the most extreme member of the Senate.

McCain: Yea, that's his voting record.

Helling: Extreme? You really think he's an extremist? I mean he's clearly liberal..

McCain: Well, that's his voting record. All I said was his voting record. And it's more to the left that the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Helling: You really think he's a socialist, Barack Obama?

McCain: Oh, I don't know. All I know is his voting record.

This is hardly the first time the McCain campaign has tried to distort Obama's record and tag him as some sort of extremist. Joe Lieberman says "it's a good question" to ask whether Obama is a marxist, Glenn Beck rants about Michelle Obama having a "socialist agenda," and Bill Kristol believes the "bitter" remarks revealed Obama's inner Karl Marx.

Steve Benen has already debunked the right-wing claim that Obama is the "most liberal member of the US Senate" so I won't bother repeating it here, but a look at McCain's voting record during the Bush years reveals just what you would expect: Despite the CW that McCain is a party-bucking maverick, he's voted with Bush 91% of the time -- including 100% and 95% in 2008 and 2007, respectively. A debates over voting records is not one the McCain campaign should be eager to engage in.

Also take note of McCain's blatant lying towards the end of the clip as he attempts to defend himself from flip-flopping charges. Unlike the majority of McCain's Media™, Helling actually confronts the candidate, and gets him on tape denying things that are demonstrably true.

Take, for instance, the myth McCain now peddles that he only opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2001 because they weren't accompanied by restraint in spending. Well, if that was the case, why did he say this back then?: "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief." It's really a shame that the somewhat-respectable Republican McCain used to be has become possessed by the base-pandering, run-of-the-mill GOP ideologue he is today.

Like Jon Stewart once said, McCain has gone to "crazy base world." And it doesn't look like he's coming back.

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