I’ve never been a fan of John McCain. Not only is he not a conservative, he may have done more damage to the conservative movement than any other Republican over the last few years. Look back at the Gang-of-14, global warming, McCain-Feingold, coddling terrorists at Gitmo, illegal immigration — on and on and on, and you’ll remember John McCain working feverishly with liberals to defeat conservatives.
For that reason, John McCain was not someone I backed for the Presidency. My order of preference for President was Duncan Hunter (whom I consulted for), Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and then, John McCain. That’s why, right before his big win in Florida, I wrote an extra column for Townhall called A Conservative Nightmare: Republican Nominee, John McCain.
Still, even in that column, which was meant to discourage people from voting for John McCain, I wrote,
Now, am I saying that Republicans should vote for a third party or stay home if John McCain is the nominee? Absolutely not. I don’t believe in protest votes and besides, the presidency is bigger than any one issue.
After McCain took Florida and was practically a lock to capture the nomination, in keeping with my belief that it benefits conservatives to support the most conservative nominee, I wrote two columns called, Why You’re Going To Vote For John McCain In November And Like It! & There’s Nothing Conservative Or Principled About Helping A Democrat Beat John McCain In November.
I also got myself invited to McCain’s teleconferences, raised money for him through Slatecard, and believe it or not, even contributed $25 to his campaign.
Admittedly that was tough for me because I wasn’t a fan of the guy, but I believed that I had a responsibility, for whatever it was worth, to try to set an example. That was despite the fact that fighting amnesty is extremely important to me and John McCain was the chief Republican proponent of amnesty.
Of course, McCain claimed that he had changed his tune. Yes, he still supported amnesty, but he said he had heard the message that the American people were sending him and that he had been convinced that we needed security first, before we pursued an amnesty.
McCain said this over and over and over and over again. For example, here’s John McCain in November of 2007,
John McCain spent months earlier this year arguing that the United States must combine border security efforts with a temporary worker program and an eventual path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants.
Now, the Republican presidential candidate emphasizes securing the borders first. The rest, he says, is still needed but will have to come later.
“I understand why you would call it a, quote, shift,” McCain told reporters Saturday after voters questioned him on his position during back-to-back appearances in this early voting state. “I say it is a lesson learned about what the American people’s priorities are. And their priority is to secure the borders.”
Here’s John McCain in February of 2008,
On the issue of illegal immigration, a position which provoked the outspoken opposition of many conservatives, I stood my ground aware that my position would imperil my campaign. I respect your opposition for I know that the vast majority of critics to the bill based their opposition in a principled defense of the rule of law. And while I and other Republican supporters of the bill were genuine in our intention to restore control of our borders, we failed, for various and understandable reasons, to convince Americans that we were. I accept that, and have pledged that it would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first, and only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration.
Here’s John McCain, answering a question that I posed to him about illegal immigration on April 28, 2008:
As the recent immigration debate demonstrated, Americans have little trust that their government will honor a pledge to do the things necessary to make our border secure. As president, I will honor that pledge by securing the border, thus strengthening our national security. I will also require that, among other things, border-state governors certify that the border is secure before proceeding to other reform measures. However, I also believe that our immigration system must recognize that America will always be that “shining city upon a hill,” a beacon of hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life built on hard work and optimism. Once we achieve border security, we must ensure that we approach our remaining immigration challenges with constructive dialogue and solutions that reflect a compassionate approach and the needs of our economy.
So, what you see here is that McCain has said, again and again, that he no longer supports comprehensive immigration reform. To the contrary, he has been saying that we need security first and then — and only then — could we consider moving forward with an amnesty.
Granted, I didn’t trust McCain on this issue and I’d prefer never to have an amnesty, but still, a security first position beats comprehensive immigration reform.
On the other hand, after spending more than 6 months touting a security first position, winning the nomination only because he abandoned his pro-comprehensive immigration position, and running as “Mr. Straight Talk,” I thought McCain would be reluctant to break his security first pledge once he got into office.
That’s why I was more than a little bit disturbed when John McCain said the following last week,
“We get in this kind of a circular firing squad on immigration reform in the Congress of the United States and the lesson I learned from it is we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform.”
Although the campaign didn’t follow that up with any releases saying that McCain slipped up, I noticed that McCain seemed to be going back to his security first position when he was asked about immigration. So, I decided to ask the campaign about it and yesterday, I posted on the issue.
Here was my conclusion,
“What that leads me to believe is that McCain just screwed up, slipped into his old comprehensive illegal immigration rhetoric, and then, because the issue is so radioactive for him, decided he would be better off just leaving it alone rather than trying to explain it.”
Incidentally, that conclusion? It wasn’t just a guess. It was backed up by off-the-record comments that I’m not going to discuss in detail right now.
So, with that in mind, imagine my chagrin when I saw these comments in the New York Times last night (emphasis mine).
After several of the business leaders complained about the difficulty in obtaining temporary H1B visas for scientists and engineers, something the Senate immigration bill was supposed to address, Mr. McCain expressed regret the measure did not pass, calling it a personal “failure,” as well as one by the federal government.
“Senator Kennedy and I tried very hard to get immigration reform, a comprehensive plan, through the Congress of the United States,” he said. “It is a federal responsibility and because of our failure as a federal obligation, we’re seeing all these various conflicts and problems throughout our nation as different towns, cities, counties, whatever they are, implement different policies and different programs which makes things even worse and even more confusing.”
He added: “I believe we have to secure our borders, and I think most Americans agree with that, because it’s a matter of national security. But we must enact comprehensive immigration reform. We must make it a top agenda item if we don’t do it before, and we probably won’t, a little straight talk, as of January 2009.”
Mr. McCain asked others on the panels for suggestions about how to “ better mobilize American public opinion” behind the notion of comprehensive immigration reform.
Put very simply: John McCain is a liar. He’s a man without honor, without integrity, who could not have captured the Republican nomination had he run on making comprehensive immigration a top priority of his administration. Quite frankly, this is little different from George Bush, Sr. breaking his “Read my lips, no new taxes pledge,” except that Bush’s father was at least smart enough to wait until he got elected before letting all of his supporters know that he was lying to them.
Under these circumstances, I simply cannot continue to support a man like John McCain for the presidency. Since that is the case, I have already written the campaign and asked them to take me off of their mailing list and to no longer send me invitations to their teleconferences. I see no point in asking questions to a man who has no compunction about lying through his teeth on one of the most crucial election issues and then changing his position the first time he believes he can get away with it.
Moreover, I genuinely regret having to do this because I do still believe the country would be better off with John McCain as President as opposed to Obama or Clinton. However, I just cannot in good conscience cast a vote for a man who has told this big of a lie, for this long, about this important of an issue.
That being said, although I cannot back John McCain, encourage others to vote for him, or contribute any more money to his campaign, I’m not going to tell you that you should do that same thing. What McCain has done here is a bridge too far for me, but others may not have as big a problem with being told this sort of lie. That’s their decision.
Furthermore, I will defend John McCain when I think he deserves to be defended, excoriate Barack Obama and/or Hillary Clinton at every opportunity, and I will continue to stand behind the sort of Republican candidates who actually deserve conservative support. But, what I will not do is vote for John McCain in November.