Friday, May 14, 2010
More excerpts from the article -
Still, the Arizona Republican's old allies on immigration are amazed that the guy who just a few years ago fought for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers by the side of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and passionately defended illegal immigrants as "God's children" seemingly has morphed into a partisan border hawk.
"I find it so hard to believe that he was insincere then and he's sincere now," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a national organization that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform. "I would prefer to think that that was the real McCain and he's making some political calculations that he thinks are necessary. And I'm not sure he realizes how much he is undercutting the thing that people find most admirable about him."
For a Republican with White House ambitions, the admiration of centrists, liberals and national pundits is a major benefit. But McCain's days as a presidential contender ended with his 2008 loss to Barack Obama. Today, he is embroiled in a tough GOP primary fight in a national political climate that is not only extremely hostile to incumbents in general but also to moderate Republicans in specific.
Conservative "tea party" anger continues to boil, as recent developments in Florida and Utah demonstrate. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a GOP moderate, saw his poll standings plunge so far in the state's Senate primary that he quit the Republican race and is running as an independent. On Saturday, three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, was denied his party's 2010 nomination by delegates at his state GOP convention.
In Arizona, the immigration debate has exploded in a political narrative that would appear to benefit former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, McCain's Republican challenger and a former conservative radio talk-show host known for railing against illegal immigration and against "amnesty," the emotionally charged word critics use to denounce comprehensive reform.
"I remember John Kerry saying in the 2008 campaign, 'It's not the John McCain that I knew!' - it's hilarious," McCain said.
National political analyst Charlie Cook put it more bluntly in a Tuesday column he wrote for National Journal: "The truth is that McCain would be a dead man in this primary had he not seen this coming and begun repositioning himself. The political climate for a Republican who has long relished poking his party's ideologues in the eye is awful."
Posted by Rachel Alexander at Friday, May 14, 2010