Monday, January 28, 2008

McCain: Alito "Too Conservative"

John Fund writes at The Wall Street Journal:
John McCain has to decide just how comfortable he wants the conservative base of the Republican Party to be with his candidacy. Although he touts his conservative credentials on the campaign trail, it's no secret that Mr. McCain has often sought an arm's-length relationship with many conservatives. Should he lose the Florida primary on Tuesday, it will be in no small part because he didn't do more to seek an accommodation with conservatives.

A good litmus test of how Mr. McCain's relationship with conservatives stands will come at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, which opens Feb. 7, just two days after the Super Tuesday primaries.

Last year's CPAC proved a disaster for Mr. McCain. He upset the organizers by first rejecting their invitation to speak and then trying to rent a room at the same hotel so he could host a reception for the conference's delegates. CPAC officials believed the McCain camp's motivation was to avoid having television cameras recording him "pandering" to the conservative activists while letting him schmooze them one-on-one behind closed doors. The ploy failed because the hotel didn't have a suitable room available for the senator.

***
Then there is the issue of judicial nominations, a top priority with conservatives. Nothing would improve Mr. McCain's standing with conservatives more than a forthright restatement of his previously stated view that "one of our greatest problems in America today is justices that legislate from the bench." Mr. McCain bruised his standing with conservatives on the issue when in 2005 he became a key player in the so-called gang of 14, which derailed an effort to end Democratic filibusters of Bush judicial nominees. More recently, Mr. McCain has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito, because "he wore his conservatism on his sleeve."

Therein lies the problem that many conservatives have with John McCain. It is the nagging feeling that after all of his years of chummily bonding with liberal reporters and garnering favorable media coverage from them that the Arizona senator is embarrassed to be seen as too much of a conservative...


[More]
(emphasis added)

My Comments:
That's it. John McCain is definitely out as a possibility for me.

The issue of judicial nominations has always been a sticking point with me where McCain is concerned. But now, having actually read a report wherein McCain indicates that he would be reluctant to nominate someone like Samuel Alito to the Court, all doubt is removed.

Unless someone can prove to me conclusively that McCain never stated what Fund has attributed to him, and that he does not in fact hold such views about Samuel Alito, I WILL NOT support John McCain.

Can I hear from Sen. Brownback, Governor Keating, and Austin Ruse on this one?


UPDATE (29 January)
Austin Ruse responds:
Senator McCain has said it maybe a thousand times in this campaign: "I will appoint judges and justices in teh mold of Roberts and Alito."

This "quote" from Fund has been categorically denied by McCain. It is a slime job and should be ignored.

McCain is solid on judges and solid on justices. He will appoint Justices who will overturn Roe.
Thanks for responding, Mr. Ruse.

In fairness to Mr. Fund, however, he has 3 different sources, the date, and the place for McCain's quote about Alito. Katherine Lopez (who is, admittedly, a Romney groupie) has vouched for Fund on this one, noting that she has been told the same thing.

Look, since 2000, McCain has pretty much been a wild card where conservatives - especially social conservatives - are concerned.

And I ask everyone who has watched and listened to John McCain for the last 8 years: in your gut, which one do you believe sounds like the REAL McCain? The one who says he wants to appoint Justices who are strict constructionist "clones" of Roberts and Alito (you know, guys who might strike down McCain's signature piece of legislation)? Or the one who is afraid that Alito wears his conservatism on his sleeve and might cause a fight with Senate liberals?

In MY gut, I know which one sounds like the McCain I've come to distrust over the years.


Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this issue:
Some Good Posts at Catholics in the Public Square

The Cranky Conservative: Is McCain or Giuliani More Trustworthy on Judges?

Santorum Says McCain Unreliable on Pro-Life Issues

Two Catholic Pro-Life Advocates Endorse John McCain's GOP Presidential Bid

Santorum Attacks McCain's Conservative Credentials

McCain Gets Help from Brownback to Lure Catholics

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14 Comments:

At 1/28/2008 11:02 AM, Blogger Tito said...

With Huckabee in flames and Ron Paul to much of an astronaught to support, who else is there?

Romney?

I'm with you on McCain.

Romney looks like a solid alternative. It's hard to read his sincerity, not that he isn't but that he switched many of his positions... for convenience or genuine change of heart?

Tito

 
At 1/28/2008 12:40 PM, Blogger Jeff Miller said...

That has been my main worry about McCain. That he says he wants to appoint judges like the ones that struck down portions of his own bill McCain-Feingold as unconstitutional. He obviously has no idea about the constitution and what type of judge would uphold it.

There is also the problem of Senatitis that he would choose nominees based on what his friends such as Kennedy would accept. He also tends to bad mouth conservatives while never saying anything bad about liberals.

On the other hand we have Mitt Romney who was terrible at appointing conservative judges in Massachusetts. So there is a trust issue there as to how firm he will be in selecting a Supreme Court nominee. Prudentially though I don't think he will be as likely to poke a stick in conservatives' eyes as McCain would since he would certainly be trying to repair his image as not conservative.

Either way their is not a high level of certitude as to the most important issue of Supreme Court nominees. But I guess there never has been since we have had some real stinkers of Republican picks from Ike on through George H. Bush. Even George W. Bush who has been great on selections took what might have been a disastrous detour with Harriet Miers.

Democrats know how to make their picks and they stay judicially liberal.

 
At 1/28/2008 12:54 PM, Anonymous paul zummo said...

I would like to thank John McCain for answering the question I posed on my blog last week. I think we'd actually have a better shot at an originalist appointment from Rudy. But, he's really not an option, so I think the only viable alternative at this point is Romney.

 
At 1/28/2008 1:34 PM, Blogger Darwin said...

Ugh.

Just as I was starting to convince myself that maaaaaybe McCain wouldn't be so bad.

Since we don't get to vote will March, things may be pretty well wrapped up by then, but I just don't like the field right now. At the most basic level, it seems like Romney is the best shot right now, but I just don't feel comfortable with him for some reason. (And I strongly suspect he'd lose.)

 
At 1/28/2008 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please check out McCain's response to Byron York on National Review http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=Yjc5NmYxZWZkZjY0NzQxNGNhYWFiOTVkMzhiNjA0YTg in which he states he "wants to find clones of Alito and Roberts.

 
At 1/28/2008 5:28 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

So, you're saying John McCain is in favor of cloning?

;-)

(Hat tip to Tim F. for coming up with that one in comments at Vox Nova)

 
At 1/28/2008 5:32 PM, Blogger Dale P. said...

McCain clearly said at the townhall meeting I attended back in December that he wants judges in the mold of Roberts *and* Alito.

I don't know where Fund is getting this from, but there's some counter-evidence.

 
At 1/28/2008 5:38 PM, Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Giuliani: out. He's pro-abortion, and although he promises to appoint "strict constructionist" judges, his idea of "strict constructionist" includes someone who might vote to uphold Roe.

McCain: out. History of contempt for conservatives, pro-REDSCR (and federal funding thereof), opposes defense of marriage, supports abortion under certain circumstances, can't be trusted on judicial appointments.

Romney: Hard to trust, bad record, recent conversion, difficult to judge sincerity, or how full-developed his pro-life views are.

Huckabee: Mostly good on pro-life issues (but didn't know what the "Mexico City policy" was when asked), but poor on fiscal, civil liberties, immigration, defense, and foreign policy issues. But he does support the Fair Tax. And I can't escape the feeling -- am I the only one? -- that there's something about him that makes me not want to trust. Best communicator in the GOP field.

Ron Paul: Excellent pro-life history, including support for a Constitutional life amendment and effective legislation. He's the only one I'm certain isn't lying to me. Not a perfect candidate, probably wrong about the Iraq War, but at least his views have a coherence, a consistency, a logic about them that's difficult to refute. His approach deserves a chance.

Romney, Huckabee, or Paul? How much does that ineffable quality of "winability" count? How much does money count? How much does trust count?

What an interesting election this is turning out to be.

 
At 1/28/2008 5:39 PM, Blogger Jeff Miller said...

I think it can simply be explained that McCain said two different things in to different situations. Not exactly shocking for a politician.

The John Fund quote seems to be though in character for McCain.

 
At 1/28/2008 10:51 PM, Blogger Tito said...

Paul,

Excellent break down.

I saw the CNN GOP debate and Ron Paul (without interference from the liberal media) said in his own words that America is at fault for 9/11.

That sealed the deal for me to not vote for that quack (in all charity of course).

And I really want to vote for him.

Ever since Brownback dropped out I've been kind of leaning towards Huckabee, but he seems to be fading fast.

On a positive not it 'seems' that Giuliani's star is fading, but I don't want to jump the gun just yet.

 
At 1/29/2008 6:35 AM, Anonymous Austin Ruse said...

Senator McCain has said it maybe a thousand times in this campaign: "I will appoint judges and justices in teh mold of Roberts and Alito."

This "quote" from Fund has been categorically denied by McCain. It is a slime job and should be ignored.

McCain is solid on judges and solid on justices. He will appoint Justices who will overturn Roe.

 
At 1/29/2008 7:49 AM, Anonymous paul zummo said...

McCain is solid on judges and solid on justices. He will appoint Justices who will overturn Roe.

Perhaps. Better question: will he appoint Justices who will overturn McConnell v FEC (McCain-Feingold).

 
At 1/29/2008 9:08 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Thanks for responding, Mr. Ruse.

In fairness to Mr. Fund, however, he has 3 different sources for McCain's quote re: Alito. Katherine Lopez (who is, admittedly, a Romney groupie) has vouched for Fund on this one, noting that she has been told the same thing.

Look, since 2000, McCain has pretty much been a wild card where conservatives - especially social conservatives - are concerned.

And I ask everyone who has watched and listened to John McCain for the last 8 years: in your gut, which one do you believe sounds like the REAL McCain? The one who says he wants to appoint Justices who are strict constructionist "clones" of Roberts and Alito (you know, guys who might strike down McCain's signature piece of legislation)?
Or the one who is afraid that Alito wears his conservatism on his sleeve and might cause a fight with Senate liberals?

In MY gut, I know which one sounds like the McCain I've come to distrust over the years.

 
At 1/29/2008 10:01 AM, Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

I saw the CNN GOP debate and Ron Paul (without interference from the liberal media) said in his own words that America is at fault for 9/11.

We did not deserve the 9/11 attacks in any way shape or form.

That said, I don't think it can be categorically denied that, if the U.S. had a radically different policy towards the Middle East, one that involved us substantially less with their conflicts, we might not be such an attractive target for Islamic terrorists.

It seems to me that it might be worth a try; what I heard Ron Paul say was that he wants to employ more humility in our foreign policy.

 

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