Ignoring reversals, Boston Globe cited taxes and immigration as evidence that McCain "appears to delight in defying his fellow Republicans"

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

In asserting that Sen. John McCain "appears to delight in defying his fellow Republicans on matters ranging from taxes to the environment," Boston Globe reporter Susan Milligan cited "McCain's support for immigration reform" and his "opposition to the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2002." But Milligan made no mention of the fact that McCain has reversed his position on taxes and immigration to more closely align himself with the base of his party.

In an April 27 Boston Globe article, reporter Susan Milligan wrote, "Religious and social conservatives have been critical of [Sen. John] McCain, who appears to delight in defying his fellow Republicans on matters ranging from taxes to the environment." Milligan asserted that "McCain's support for immigration reform has not only aggravated the GOP base, but threatens to put him in a politically untenable position this fall: while he needs Latino votes to win battleground states in the general election, any mention of his coauthorship of an immigration package giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal residency infuriates anti-illegal immigration forces that make up a critical part of the GOP base." But Milligan did not note that McCain has shifted his position on the religious right, or that his current position on immigration -- that the borders must be secured before other reforms can be addressed -- is a reversal of his previous position that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform. Milligan also asserted that "McCain's opposition to the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2002 has irritated GOP stalwarts such as Americans for Tax Reform, while the conservative Club for Growth greeted McCain's electoral success by bemoaning the fact that the GOP had selected 'a candidate at odds with a large portion of its conservative members to be the standard-bearer' of the party." But Milligan made no mention of the fact that McCain has reversed his position on taxes to more closely align himself with the base of his party. Moreover, although she asserted that "McCain's opposition to the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2002 has irritated GOP stalwarts such as Americans for Tax Reform," Milligan did not report that after McCain reversed his position on the Bush tax cuts, his reversal was reportedly embraced by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

After opposing the tax cuts in 2001, McCain voted against legislation in 2003 to accelerate the tax reductions enacted in the 2001 bill and to cut taxes on dividends and capital gains. Yet in 2006, McCain voted for a bill extending the 2003 tax cuts. When asked during the April 2, 2006, broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press why he changed his mind on Bush's tax cuts, McCain replied: "I do not believe in tax increases. ... The tax cuts are now there, and voting to revoke them would have been to -- not to extend them would have meant a tax increase." Norquist reportedly said at the time: "It's a big flip-flop, but I'm happy that he's flopped." McCain now claims that he originally voted against the Bush tax cuts because they were not paired with spending cuts. But that was not the reason he gave on the Senate floor in 2001 for his opposition.

In contrast to Milligan's article, an April 20 Globe article reported that McCain's maverick image "has been scuffed on his way to becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee," adding:

To woo the GOP's conservative base, McCain has repositioned himself to align with the party mainstream on some key issues and downplayed others that once defined his independence.

Along the way, McCain has made clear that despite a flair for the impolitic or unpredictable, he hews more closely to conservative Republican orthodoxy than his rebel reputation suggests.

[...]

The policy shifts are evident: He abandoned comprehensive immigration reform last year as it threatened to sink his candidacy and is supporting tax cuts for the wealthy he had criticized for years and twice voted against in the Senate. And he has all but ignored the signature issues that framed the 2000 portrait of a maverick: campaign finance reform and a crackdown on the tobacco industry.

Additionally, in asserting that McCain "appears to delight in defying his fellow Republicans" on the environment, Milligan did not note that McCain has a lifetime score of 24 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV).

From the April 27 Boston Globe article:

And while McCain is enjoying a quiet campaign stretch, as the media and voters focus on the volatile Democratic contest, the Arizona lawmaker has not come close to generating the fund-raising might of his Democratic opponents.

In all, McCain has raised a total of $77 million in the campaign, compared to $235 million raised by Obama and $189 million collected by Clinton.

Religious and social conservatives have been critical of McCain, who appears to delight in defying his fellow Republicans on matters ranging from taxes to the environment. His authorship of campaign finance reform legislation alienated key conservative activist groups, which felt their political voices were muffled by laws limiting what they could say in paid television ads.

McCain's support for immigration reform has not only aggravated the GOP base, but threatens to put him in a politically untenable position this fall: while he needs Latino votes to win battleground states in the general election, any mention of his coauthorship of an immigration package giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal residency infuriates anti-illegal immigration forces that make up a critical part of the GOP base.

"On the one hand, he's dogged, justifiably, for his partnership with [Massachusetts Senator Edward M.] Kennedy on last year's amnesty bill," said Bob Dane, communications director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which does not endorse presidential candidates. "He needs to successfully distance himself to make his core happy."

But "the Hispanic vote is critical in these swing states," Dane noted, so "he doesn't want to upset the apple cart."

McCain's opposition to the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2002 has irritated GOP stalwarts such as Americans for Tax Reform, while the conservative Club for Growth greeted McCain's electoral success by bemoaning the fact that the GOP had selected "a candidate at odds with a large portion of its conservative members to be the standard-bearer" of the party.

"Just because the Republican nomination is over doesn't mean the division in the Republican party is over," said Jim Demers, a Democratic activist who co-chaired Obama's primary campaign in New Hampshire. "They just aren't talking about it because the press is focused on the Democratic race. I do believe it still exists."

Network/Outlet
Boston Globe
Person
Susan Milligan
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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