If, as I have suggested, Mike Huckabee is the Bill Clinton of this election cycle and Barack Obama is an Oval Office Arnold Schwarzenegger in the making, then the comeback kid of the Republican pack, Arizona Senator John McCain has a parallel which is equally clear from past Presidential contests: Senator and former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
Just comparing the campaign trajectories of McCain and Kerry demonstrates a close parallel between the two candidates. During the summer and fall leading up to their respective elections, each candidate was written off for dead, polling in the single digits. But early wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, coupled with the collapse of the media-designated front-running campaign left each candidate inheriting their party’s nomination by default.
Like John Kerry in 2004, Senator McCain is not very inspiring to his party’s base. In fact, to many Republicans, John McCain is more know for his betrayals on tax cuts, campaign finance reform and immigration than for his strong national security record. Conversely, McCain’s record of service in Vietnam will most likely play as an asset in 2008, rather than as a liability as it did for Kerry. Don’t expect McCain to be “Swift Boated” even in a general election.
If McCain is lucky, as the Republican nominee, he will face Hillary Clinton in November, for she is just about the only political figure in America who is as polarizing as Kerry’s 2004 opponent, George W. Bush. And, of course, we saw how much that helped the junior Senator from Massachusetts.
But wait! The parallels between McCain and Kerry don’t stop with their war records! Both have a solid record…of flip-flopping on the issues.
I’ve already detailed how McCain’s “straight talk” comes across more like double-speak, but the hits keep on coming.
In the California Republican Primary debate, the first question posed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper was whether Americans were better off than they were eight years ago, when George W. Bush took office. McCain’s negative assessment led Cooper to follow up by concluding, “It sounds like that we’re not better off is what you’re saying,” to which the Senator had to stumble around to find a more positive-sounding answer about job creation and the economy.
Janet Hook, from the L.A. Times, later put McCain on the spot later in the debate about why he opposed President Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, asking, “Now, more recently you’ve been saying that the reason why you opposed the tax cuts at first was because they weren’t offset by spending cuts. But back when you actually voted against the tax cuts in Congress, you said you opposed them because they favored the wealthy too much. So which is it?”
In his typical double-speak, McCain answered, “I disagreed when we had tax cuts without spending restraint,” re-writing history once again.
But McCain also appears to have flip-flopped on his own immigration bill as well, stating that he would not vote for his own legislation today – a fact buried in some rambling pandering about the processes of the United States Senate.
I guess you could say McCain was for his own position on immigration before he was against it! Sounds a lot like a position that John Kerry would take!
United States Senators do not have a good track record of being elected President, especially those who have served in the body for awhile. Perhaps this is because of the deliberative nature of the body, which makes it hard to be an obstinate fighter for one’s convictions, but it usually ends up with the same campaign attack in a general election. Flip…Flop! Flip…Flop!