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Who is John McCain?

It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for John McCain. He’s got a bit of an identity crisis.

On the one hand, he’s gotta run from George W. Bush — the man who, as a two-term incumbent, should be the standard bearer for the party and the McCain campaigns biggest asset.

Battling George W. Bush for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000, John McCain lashed out at the Texas governor, denouncing his proposed tax cuts as a giveaway to the rich.

Eight years later, this time running as the Republican presidential nominee, the senator from Arizona is again criticizing Bush and his financial policies, as he renews his efforts to demonstrate that he would represent a departure from the current administration.

At virtually every campaign stop, McCain is reprising a line he used last Wednesday in his final debate with Sen. Barack Obama: “I am not George Bush.” And in a television ad introduced last week, McCain looks into the camera and says, “The last eight years haven’t worked very well, have they?”

Well, no. They haven’t. And McCain had a lot to do with that.

Q: Is it true John McCain voted with George Bush 95 percent of the time? The Obama campaign keeps claiming McCain has voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time. Is this true? Is this significant?

A: Yes, it’s true, according to Congressional Quarterly’s assessment of McCain’s voting record.
Sen. Barack Obama has attempted to use the Arizona senator’s voting record against him in statements like this:

Barack Obama (June 3): It’s not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

The claim is true. According to Congressional Quarterly’s Voting Studies, in 2007 McCain voted in line with the president’s position 95 percent of the time – the highest percentage rate for McCain since Bush took office – and voted in line with his party 90 percent of the time. However, McCain’s support of President Bush’s position has been as low as 77 percent (in 2005), and his support for his party’s position has been as low as 67 percent (2001).

Now, apparently, he’s trying to be more like his opponent.

Swampland, TIME
October 20, 2008 11:52
Incoherence
Posted by Joe Klein | Comments (67) | Permalink | Trackbacks (0) | Email This

John McCain had a fabulously loony weekend, flipping out charges and attacks like a mud tornado. The truly remarkable thing about McCain’s attacks, especially on Obama’s economic policies, is that McCain, in each case, is “guilty” of supporting some version of the policies he’s attacking:

1. He attacks Obama for increasing “welfare” by providing refundable tax credits–that is giving people the cash equivalent if they don’t pay enough in income taxes to reap the full benefit of the credit–but McCain’s own $5000 health insurance credit is also refundable.

2. He attacks Obama for spreading “socialism,” but McCain supported the bailout that enabled the Bush Administration to partially nationalize the banking system last week. If that ain’t a (very mild) form of socialism, I don’t know what is.

3. He attacks Obama’s tax plan as a form of “spreading the wealth”–the words Obama used when talking to Joe the Unlicensed Tax Dodger in Ohio–because Obama would reduce taxes on the middle class and pay for it by restoring Clinton-era marginal tax rates on the wealthy. And yet, McCain proudly voted for a major tax hike and wealth redistribution scheme in his early days in his early days in Congress. In fact he touts it regularly, including on Fox News Sunday, as bipartisan cooperation at its finest:

So, to win, McCain has to be less like George Bush (whom he’s supported most of the last 8 years) and more like Barack Obama (while he’s trying to imitate and distinguish himself from the same)?

I think fair question is: Who is John McCain?

The answer would have to be somewhere in his record.

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