The Arizona State Republican Party approved a resolution on Saturday, January 25 that censured Senator John McCain (shown on right) for compiling a voting record that is insufficiently conservative for Arizonans.
AP reported that the resolution criticized McCain for campaigning as a conservative and then lending his support to issues “associated with liberal Democrats,” such as “immigration reform” (amnesty) and funding ObamaCare.
Timothy Schwartz, the Legislative District 30 Republican chairman who helped write the resolution, said the censure showed that McCain was losing support from his own party. “We would gladly embrace Sen. McCain if he stood behind us and represented us,” AP quoted Schwartz.
In the recent Freedom Index published by The New American earlier this month, which rated members of the 113th Congress according to their faithfulness to the Constitution, based on 20 key votes, McCain received a score of 50 percent. (For comparison, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah each scored 95 percent.)
Several Republican county committees also recently censured McCain, including Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix), the state’s most populous and fourth in the nation with a population of nearly four million.
The Maricopa County resolution, which was very similar to the state party resolution, read, in part:
Whereas Senator McCain has amassed a long and terrible record of drafting, co-sponsoring and voting for legislation best associated with liberal Democrats, such as Amnesty, funding for ObamaCare, the debt ceiling, assaults on the Constitution and 2nd amendment, and has continued to support liberal nominees….
Whereas McCain has abandoned our core values and has been eerily silent against Liberals, yet publicly reprimands Conservatives in his own Party, therefore
BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED that the Maricopa County Republican leadership censures Senator McCain for his continued disservice to our State and Nation, and … the Republican leadership in Arizona will no longer support, campaign for or endorse John McCain as our U.S. Senator.
(To read the entire text of the resolution, click here.)
McCain responded to the censure by implying that it just might motivate him to run for a sixth Senate term in 2016, when he will be 80 years old. “If there's such a thing as motivation to more seriously consider it, it's what just happened,” McCain told The Associated Press.
McCain made light of the censure calling it “ludicrous.” In his statement to AP, the senator said: “It shows that, again, a very extremist element of the party has taken over the party apparatus.”
“I’ve won every race I’ve run and I'm proud of my record, and if I run again, I am totally confident of re-election.”
McCain’s reference to an “extremist element” in the Republican Party is not without irony, considering that he succeeded the late Barry Goldwater to his Senate seat in 1987. During his quest for the 1964 Republican nomination, Goldwater was repeatedly called on by the liberal, Northeastern-based wing of the GOP dominated by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller to renounce his “extremist,” “right-wing” supporters.
In his acceptance speech upon receiving the presidential nomination, Goldwater made his views very clear:
Let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels.
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice….
And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
During the 1988 vice presidential debates, Democrat candidate Lloyd Bentsen made a widely quoted statement to his Republican challenger, Dan Quayle, after Quayle had said his senatorial experience was comparable to John Kennedy’s at the time Kennedy ran for president. Bentsen’s famous comment was: “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
In effect, the state GOP leadership of Arizona, with its censure, told John McCain: “Senator, you’re no Barry Goldwater.”
An article in the Christian Science Monitor on January 28 noted that McCain’s harsh criticism of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other conservatives who joined forces using a strategy to defund ObamaCare that led to last year’s partial government shutdown contributed to the dim view of McCain among Arizona conservatives. The resolution says that unless his stance changes, the state party won’t support or campaign for McCain.
“Our complaint is that John McCain is always working on the other side of the aisle and he never lands on our side of the aisle,” resolution author Schwartz said on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews on Monday night.
McCain’s 2008 vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, defended the senator against the charges levied against him in the censure, writing on her Facebook page: “It’s perplexing to see Senator McCain’s good efforts to uncover the Obama agenda being ignored and perhaps even hindered now by those wanting to censure the Arizona Senator. Despite our differences on some issues, there is no questioning Senator McCain’s dedication to national security in spite of the White House agenda.”
Palin called McCain “an American hero and a friend,” praising his record during the Vietnam War.
However, noted a report from MSNBC, this defense of McCain represented a departure from a statement Palin made to Laura Ingraham last November that was critical of “establishment” Republicans, including McCain. Said Palin: “If the GOP machine continues to try to marginalize that tea party patriot, who is doing all the hard work to get Republicans re-elected, then the establishment will go the way of the Whigs.”
The recent decision by the Arizona Republican Party to take McCain to task hardly surprises veteran McCain watchers. In October 2008 (a month before that year’s presidential election), this writer collaborated with The New American’s senior editor, William F. Jasper, on an article entitled “McCain: Maverick?” that exposed the senator’s self-constructed image as a “maverick conservative.” We noted that Sarah Palin’s more deserved (if less than sterling) record as a conservative provided conservative coloring to the McCain-Palin ticket that helped camouflage McCain’s true record.
We noted that McCain’s Conservative Index/Freedom Index scores over the years were unimpressive, with his cumulative score for the 110th Congress dropping to an anemic 36 percent. In contrast, McCain's now-retired Arizona colleague, Jon Kyl, who answered to the same constituency, received a score of 70 percent.
Also detracting from McCain’s conservative bonafides was his well-known role in cosponsoring devastating legislation with liberal Democrat senators, in particular:
• McCain-Lieberman (Climate Change): These three bills would have amounted to piecemeal implementation of the economy-killing United Nations Kyoto Protocol treaty. Thanks to McCain, more Republican politicians have joined the Gore-Clinton-Obama-Boxer climate-change bandwagon, helping the chances of passing destructive legislation enacted that will further harm our nation's energy picture and further cripple our competitiveness, while also greatly assisting the assault on our national sovereignty by the growing UN global regulatory regime.
• McCain-Feingold (Election Finance): The bill’s namesake sponsors were joined by such ultra-liberal senators as John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein. This legislation gave the Federal Election Commission unprecedented new powers to regulate political speech before elections, clearly violating the First Amendment’s prohibition against Congress making laws abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.
• McCain-Kennedy (Immigration): In May 2005, McCain joined Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy in introducing the so-called Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act — legislation that, like President Bush's proposal of a year earlier, would grant amnesty to illegal aliens.
As we also noted in that article, Senator McCain is also a long-standing member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the organization of one-world elitists that the Washington Post’s Richard Harwood called America’s “ruling establishment.” McCain’s CFR policy advisors included Henry Kissinger, Warren Rudman, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Chuck Larson, Ken Duberstein, and Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the latter being a backer of Hillary Clinton (whose husband, Bill, is a CFR member).
McCain’s CFR membership gives him something in common with Secretary of State (and former Senator) John Kerry, and his consistent hawkish, interventionist positions over the years indicate that far from being a “maverick” (a description that would have fit former Rep. Ron Paul much better), John McCain is very much a card-carrying establishmentarian.
Photo of John McCain with George Soros: AP Images