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John McCain – The Battles He Chooses to Fight & the Enemies He Chooses to Make

I am still having a difficult time understanding the support from so-called ‘conservatives’ for Senator John McCain in his bid for the Presidency. If one looks at his record in an objective manner, one can see that he is not a conservative, and, in fact, has done more to stick his finger in the eyes of conservatives over his career than he has to help them, especially since 2000, when he lost the GOP Primary race to now-President George W. Bush.

I have posted many times before on Senator McCain about the many ways in which he is not a conservative in the Reagan Coalition definition of the ideology. In some of those posts, I have have highlighted Rush Limbaugh’s ongoing criticism of his liberal and antagonistic-to-conservatives credentials. Now, Bryan Preston at HotAir points out the latest pundits who are exposing even more of McCain’s actions against Conservatives.

NRO’s Andy McCarthy (HERE and HERE) and Laura Ingraham have highlighted something that Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh have brought up many times in the past: Senator McCain’s efforts to silence Wisconsin Right to Life and their efforts to get out facts about pro-life issues during a campaign. Many social conservatives say they support Senator McCain, because he is “strong on pro-life issues”. Not exactly…

I think I’ve failed to make the most obvious, most important point on this: Judicial philosophy.

Sen. McCain may claim, to try to appease his critics, that he would appoint originalist judges. But the blunt fact is that such judges would be innately hostile to the “living constitution” — meaning they would be suspicious not only of Roe v. Wade but of schemes like campaign finance reform, a signature McCain issue. It is not for nothing that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito were in the majority ruling against McCain’s side in the Wisconsin Right to Life case last term.

But it’s important to bear in mind that the Court invited more campaign finance cases in its decision. This issue is going to come up again.

So, let’s say Justice Stevens retires. Whom does a President McCain appoint to the Supreme Court? Will he be more inclined to nominate originalist judges or judges who would uphold the suppression of core political speech rights? They are, after all, not likely to be one and the same.

Based on what he did in Wisconsin Right to Life — choosing, when he was under no obligation to do so, to jump in on the side of speech suppression against the pro-life message — why should anyone believe McCain would appoint originalist judges?

As Bryan Preston and Andy McCarthy point out, John McCain did not have to file a brief against the Wisconsin Right to Life, but he chose to do so anyway. He was more concerned with his suppression of political speech than in protecting the unborn.

McCain went 0-3 in that one case, against freedom of speech, against right to life and against the two conservatives President Bush has appointed to the SCOTUS. McCain didn’t have to file an amicus brief in this case. He chose to, making himself a partisan in it. This is a conservative?

[ … ]

The problem with McCain goes deeper than what he says about taxes and what he says today about immigration that contradicts what he said days or weeks ago. It’s about the battles McCain chooses to fight and the enemies he chooses to make. McCain consistently chooses the wrong battles and makes enemies out of the very people he now expects to carry him to the White House.

There is a difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. People need to stop listening to the fast talk and start paying attention to what these fast talkers are actually doing.

How wonderful to be a law professor, dissecting the parade as it all goes by … without a care in the world about why it goes by in the first place!

My friends, how ’bout some straight talk about how it works in the real world? Let’s say you are considering some affirmative litigation, by which I mean, your hand is not being forced: You are deciding whether to sue someone because you feel you have been damaged, or you are deciding, though you are not a party to a particular dispute, whether to weigh in as a “friend of the court” (by filing an “amicus curiae” brief) because your interests may somehow be affected by the court’s decision. Rule 1: all affirmative litigation is a matter of choice. Rule 2: all choice involves weighing the competing interests and deciding which ones are more important to you.

Senator McCain was not a party to the dispute between Wisconsin Right to Life and the Federal Election Commission. He claims to be a stalwart right to life partisan. He is, beyond peradventure, a political-speech suppression activist. In the dispute, these two values were in conflict. This is unavoidable in life, in politics, and in law. But if you’re not a party to a particular dispute, you needn’t involve yourself — you get to sit it out and let the concerned parties make their case to a neutral arbiter. That is what most of us do when two things we care about are in counterpoise — we may offer a stray opinion here or there, but for the most part we stay out of the fray and depend on the court to sort it out fairly.

The other approach is to decide which value is more important to you and become a partisan. That is what Senator McCain did.

Kathryn’s law professor correspondent very helpfully pronounces that “Whether one approves of the campaign finance law or not, it affects pro-life and pro-choice groups in precisely the same way.” Yes, professor, thank you so much for that profound observation. One might just as uselessly say, however, that whether one is pro-life or pro-abortion (oops, sorry, I mean pro-choice), the political-speech suppression law (sorry, there I go again, I mean the campaign finance law) is equally oppressive.
Senator McCain’s choice was not: do I defend campaign finance laws as faithfully as possible, regardless of whose ox is gored, because that’s just the kinda straight-talkin’ maverick I am? Of course he’ll try to sell it that way, and perhaps get ten-thousand pro-abortion, pro-political-speech-suppression law professors to back him up. (I hear there may be a few such law professors available.) But McCain’s actual choice was: What’s more important to me, defending life or defending the suppression of political speech? He chose to defend the suppression of political speech.

He could have stayed out of it entirely. Or, choosing to involve himself, he could have filed an amicus brief in support of Wisconsin Right to Life, arguing for the urgency of permitting its message to be heard. He chose, instead, to support restrictions on speech for the benefit of incumbents — particularly, his co-crusader against the First Amendment, Sen. Russ Feingold.

That is a fact. Add all the context you’d like — it’ll still be a fact.

Pro-Life? No, Senator McCain is pro-STFU you stupid American citizens. He was in favor of this Pro-Life group shutting up and he has made it clear he wants anti-amnesty people to STFU as well.

The Left is in favor of suppressing free speech. John McCain is in favor of suppressing free speech. Put the two together and figure things out, people. Senator John McCain is no conservative.

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January 23, 2008 , 12:58AM - Posted by | 2008 Presidential Election, Conservatism, John McCain, Pro-Life

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