The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

03 March 2008

NYT Columnist: Rush Right About McCain's Liberalism


Rich: Rush Has McCain Figured Out

*** BREAKING: Citadel - ABC Radio Crisis Continues ***

*** EXCLUSIVE: Melanie Morgan Fired At KSFO, In Addition To Others In San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth ***

Wait a second: Rush Limbaugh is actually right about John McCain's liberal voting record on key issues? After the heat he's taken from the blue- blooded "moderate" wing of the GOP and mainstream media, we thought a firm consensus had formed against him.

But not so fast, writes Frank Rich in the New York Times, of all places. Seldom accused of right- wing leanings, Rich has refuted the country- clubbers who tried to convince us that McCain's record was a good fit for conservatives:

BEFORE they were sidetracked into a new war against The New York Times, the Rush Limbaugh posse had it right about John McCain. He is a double agent. Some Democrats do admire and like him. So does Jon Stewart, and so do many liberal editorial boards and card-carrying hacks in the mainstream American press. So, in fact, do many at The Times, including myself. As long as I don’t look too hard at the fine print.

You’ve got to love a guy who said a few years ago that he regretted likening Mr. Limbaugh to “a circus clown” because of all the complaints from circus clowns insulted by the comparison. “I would like to extend my apologies to Bozo, Chuckles and Krusty,” Senator McCain told a rather startled Neil Cavuto of Fox News.

What’s more, Ann Coulter and Tom DeLay aren’t entirely wrong when they bluster that a vote for Mr. McCain amounts to a vote for Hillary Clinton (or, for that matter, Barack Obama). The Arizona senator’s otherwise conservative record is closer to the Democrats on immigration, campaign-finance reform, stem-cell research, global warming, oil drilling in Alaska, waterboarding, Gitmo and, until a recent flip-flop, the Bush tax cuts. In The New Republic, Jonathan Chait concluded that Mr. McCain’s Senate votes made him “the most effective advocate of the Democratic agenda in Washington” during the first Bush term.

All of which should make Democrats more nervous than the clowns of the hard right. Might Mr. McCain so blur distinctions that he could grab enough independents to triumph? He won even among antiwar and anti-Bush voters in New Hampshire. A Mason-Dixon poll last week found Mr. McCain beating either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton in must-win Florida.

Unfortunately, Rich's motives are far from pure: he spends much of the rest of the piece attacking McCain for following Hillary's "out- of- touch" assessment of Barack (no middle name) Obama.

Nonetheless, how will the moderates who have attempted to brow- beat Rush (plus other talkers and pundits) into supporting McCain respond? When a liberal like Rich sees much to like in McCain's record, how then can Limbaugh and talk radio be so off- base?

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