January 4, 2008

John McCain, still doing conference calls with the bloggers.

I'm on the call right now, and he's saying he's going to keep connecting to the bloggers.

ADDED: There's a lot of talk about the town hall meeting he did in New Hampshire yesterday — and especially the role Joe Lieberman played alongside him there. McCain (and the blogger he is talking to) say, it was particularly effective when Lieberman said, referring to some attacks from Mitt Romney: "To say that John McCain ever supported amnesty for illegal immigrants is simply a lie." McCain effuses about a young girl who spoke at the meeting. I hope there's video of that somewhere.

MORE: He's pleased with the role he played in fending off the change in Senate rules over the confirmation of the new Supreme Court justices. "Can you find me one republican who now thinks we should have only 51% to confirm a judge?"

AND: The time for questions ends, and he's all "Oh, no, can I have one more?" He's asked how he can be the agent of change. He says he changed the Rumsfeld strategy. "I was criticized, because I was, quote, disloyal." So, he's the "most important agent of change." That is, he was instrumental in turning the Iraq war around. He cites many other achievements in the past. "Look at my record. And look at their record." He's stuck with his positions, and he's stuck with conservative principles. And that — somewhat paradoxically — is why he's best for change.

He requests yet one more question. It's about money. Does he have enough? "It's comin' in fine. And if we win in New Hampshire, it will trigger another flood." The questioner suggests that the Huckabee win will make people want to spend money opposing him. McCain responds by stressing that he won't go negative.

"I think we've got our bearings." He's been around a long time, he says, and because of that, what he cares about is the judgment of history. He starts to say "it's almost more important than winning," but he stops at "almost," restarts, and says "It's very important."

MORE: Some other bloggers who were on the phone call: Brainster ("Senator McCain... was upbeat and confident, and the callers were much more positive in their questions."), Matt Lewis ("I've probably been on a dozen, or so, calls with McCain, and I've never heard him this fired up, and this passionate about defending his positions."), Jennifer Rubin ("he sounded like he understands he has to win over the base of the party").

38 comments:

dax said...

Connecting with bloggers? He should have been connecting with the HAWKEYES! ;-)

Middle Class Guy said...

Forget politics. There is a larger crisis at hand. I need an experienced attorney and I need one or a team yesterday. For I am a convert. I have prayed for this moment on my rug made of hemp. My head and knees are bloodied. My prayers have been answered and the rapture of Global Warming, Allah Gore be praised, is nigh.

I have read the Goran. All praise to the merciful prophet, Allah Gore. I have embraced environmental Jhihad. His prophesies are coming true before my very eyes.

As part of my Jihad, I purchased several thousand acres of land in Nevada on the border of California. God has blessed me with the Armageddon of global warming. Storms are battering California from north to south. The seas are rising and bashing the state. Ten or more inches of snow are predicted. There are reports that soon there will be massive mudslides. California will slide off the face of America and into the sea.

Allah Gore be praised. I will be wealthy beyond any oil sheik. I need the attorneys to prepare the scrolls and documents to sell all of the land in Nevada. It will be the new ocean front property. I will be the new Donald Trump. I will be in the envious position to make the most famous statement in America. “You’re fired!”

Invisible Man said...

And the nuttiest unfunny post of the day goes too.....Middle Class Guy at 9:24 am.

Simon said...

"MORE: He's pleased with the role he played in fending off the change in Senate rules for over the confirmation of the new Supreme Court justices. "Can you find me one republican who now thinks we should have only 51% to confirm a judge?"

Heh. Setting aside the Constitutional issues, I love that the Gang of 14 have been completely vindicated as a matter of practical politics and yet there are still many people who lambaste McCain's role in saving the party from its own stupidity. Good for him for sticking by it.

peter hoh said...

A conservative politician who sticks to conservative principles? That would be a change.

Paul Zrimsek said...

51%: Not enough.
14%: Just right.

rcocean said...

The gang of 14 was the ultimate sellout by McCain. Read Hewitt on it.
We needed an up or down vote and cloture and McCain - because of ego and to get the need for WaPo approval - stabbed Freist and the GOP in the back.

He thinks giving 41 senators veto power over judges is good. Wrong. The POTUS is elected by the People to appoint judges. The Senate's job is just to make sure they are competent and not unqualified POTUS cronies.

The Republicans should wake up and bounce this egotistical, grandstanding, open borders,faux Democrat, from the Primary.

How much more of this McQueeg MSM poser do we have to take?

Middle Class Guy said...

How much more of this McQueeg MSM poser do we have to take?

10:21 AM



They stole the strawberries. They hid the strawberries...

Doyle said...

McCain became a critic of the Rumsfeld strategy years after the war began, when it had become incredibly unpopular. Up until that point he was shoulder to shoulder with Bush, claiming progress was being made. 6 more months, etc.

I agree with the conservatives who say McCain is an opportunistic sleaze who gets by on his MSM rep as a "maverick."

Simon said...

rcocean said...
"The gang of 14 was the ultimate sellout by McCain. Read Hewitt on it."

The Gang of 14 were right about the Senate rules, right about the Constitution, and right about the practical politics of eliminating the filibuster. The only door that remains even ajar is whether they were correct about the platonic normative value of the filibuster, and I take no position on that. As for Hewitt, Hugh was totally wrong about it, and ought to have known better - but in a pattern you saw repeated during the Miers nomination, he has an unfortunate tendancy to place the transient concerns of the Bush administration above all else.

JohnAnnArbor said...

I'd have a lot more respect for McCain if he'd admit how "campaign finance reform" has dramatically failed, making the process LESS instead of MORE transparent.

Richard Dolan said...

"McCain is an opportunistic sleaze," says Doyle, attributing the view to "conservatives." McCain is many things, but "opportunistic sleaze" is not one of them. Some people have no sense, let alone any concept of shame. It's the same mindset that thought "General Betray-US" was a catchy put-down.

Doyle said...

Some people have an overdeveloped sense that it's immoral to criticize military men.

"Opportunistic sleaze" is I think pretty tame compared to what spurned Republicans were saying about him when he opposed the Bush tax cuts and supported comprehensive immigration reform.

I don't have to go to far up this very thread to find an example:

"The Republicans should wake up and bounce this egotistical, grandstanding, open borders,faux Democrat, from the Primary.

How much more of this McQueeg MSM poser do we have to take?"

Doyle said...

Note: McCain now supports the Bush tax cuts and reads verbatim from the Supply Side Crank Hymnal.

Chip Ahoy said...

[...it was particularly effective when Lieberman said, referring to some attacks from Mitt Romney: "To say that John McCain ever supported amnesty for illegal immigrants is simply a lie."]

Not so.

Amnesty / path to citizenship that you have a proven inability and no interest to enforce, call it what you will, that wasn't a lie. No, this quote would be the lie.

jeff said...

"Setting aside the Constitutional issues, I love that the Gang of 14 have been completely vindicated as a matter of practical politics and yet there are still many people who lambaste McCain's role in saving the party from its own stupidity. Good for him for sticking by it."

I would disagree. I think if one side wants to filibuster something, they should go ahead and actually do it, not have a pretend filibuster that everyone just goes along with.

"Some people have an overdeveloped sense that it's immoral to criticize military men."
No, Doyle. Criticizing is fine. Slandering is despicable. Telling that you can't see the difference.

Bissage said...

McCain/Lieberman 2008!

rcocean said...

From Hewitt's Blog:

"Never --never!-- in American history had a Senate majority so abused the appellate nominees of a president in his first two years in office. Never --never!-- had a Senate minority used the filibuster to block any federal appellate nominee, much less many of them.

Only once in the 20th century had a SCOTUS nominee failed to receive an up-or-down vote, and the circumstances of scandal and the literally "last months'" timing of LBJ's Administration led to a single refusal of cloture and the face-saving opportunity for Justice Abe Fortas to withdraw his nomination for Chief Justice rather than see it rejected in an up-or-down vote on the Senate’s floor. The record guts the Fortas fiasco of any precedential value, and even a dishonest radical would have to admit there is only one instance in modern times of a SCOTUS nominee who wanted one, not receiving a timely up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate..

From June of 2001 through April of 2005, the Senate's Democrats radicalized the nomination process, further dismembering a process already disfigured by their disgusting attacks on Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, and which had not recovered despite the GOP's rejection of such tactics during the confirmation hearings of Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer.

Finally, in April of 2005, the GOP's 55 member majority had identified at least 50 from among its numbers to confirm a ruling from the Senate's Chair that would have delivered on the promise of "up or down votes on the floor of the Senate for all judicial nominees," by declaring that it was not acceptable under Senate rules to filibuster judicial nominees.

Had such a vote occurred, a crucial part of the constitutional order would have been restored. There would have been political aftershocks, but the vast majority of GOP senators and, crucially, the voters and donors who had elected the 55, were ready to fight for this key principle.

And then Senator McCain threw the principle --and many fine nominees-- under the bus. The window dressing for this surrender was the confirmation of some fine judges. But, and this is a key "but." they would have been confirmed anyway after the vote on the "constitutional option."

1:01 PM

Doyle said...

"Opportunistic sleaze" is slander? If that's the case then no I can't tell the difference.

Meade said...

Bissage said...
McCain/Lieberman 2008!

You already know I'm on that bandwagon, bro! And if Joe says no, I say John McC and Freddy T.

Simon said...

Jeff, I don't think we do disagree, actually, unless you have more in mind than you wrote. I don't have any beef with the suggestion that filibusters ought to be mounted rather than announced. I don't really have a strong opinion either way on the filibuster as a normative matter.

RCOcean, none of that is useful. Nothing in the Constitution of the United States prohibits either House of Congress for setting their own procedural rules - indeed, quite the contrary, Art. I § 5 expressly authorizes them to do so. It's of no relevance to the Constitutional question whether Senate liberals are cads (they are) or whether Bush's nominees were good judges (they were). The fact that by long tradition nominees are not filibustered is a strong argument that they should not be filibustered; it may even be an argument that the rules should be changed to recognize the tradition, eliminating the filibuster for nominees; but it is not an argument that the Constitution of the United States prohibits the filibuster of nominees, which was the predicate for the nuclear option. That argument was wrong then, is wrong now, and will continue to be wrong until you amend the Constitution to say otherwise. Hugh's idea that there is a sub silentio simple majority requirement for confirmation votes in Article II is dubious at best and his idea that this implicit requirement trumps the explicit text of Art. I § 5 is absolutely untenable. His position is understandable - misbehavior by Senate Democrats to block good judges nominated by a President Hugh would follow off a cliff - but misguided.

gullyborg said...

How has the gang of 14 been vindicated?

We still have a Republican President. Now it is even harder for him to get any appointment filled. Before 2006, had he had the 51 vote rule, he could have appointed anyone. Today, with the 51 vote rule in place, he could still, at least, succeed in appointing decent people by simply winning over one or two democrats.

Instead, we have had 7 years of filibusters, and now there is NO CHANCE of pushing through a controversial appointment by winning over one or two liberals.

We elect Presidents to do the things Presidents do: run the executive branch, serve and commander in chief, approve or veto legislation, act as the chief foreign policy officer, and appoint judges and officers of the United States.

If you don't want bad nominees, elect better Presidents. Don't let the Senate run rough shod over the process and hijack nominations with only 41 votes against.

Simon said...

gullyborg said...
"How has the gang of 14 been vindicated?"

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2006. You're going to find out why the proposal to eliminate the filibuster was bad practical politics when President Clinton sends a Senate with 55-or-so Democrats the nominations of Barack Obama and Joe Biden to fill the vacancies left by Justices Stevens and Scalia retiring next year. When we're able to prevent that disaster despite having fewer than fifty Senators, I think even Hugh will have the common sense to admit he was wrong, at least in private.

"We still have a Republican President."

This one will be gone in roughly thirteen months, quite possibly to be succeeded by a Democrat. I'm not interested in how tough the administration has it for the next twelve months, I'm interested in the ground rules for the next twelve, twenty-four, forty-eight years.

"We elect Presidents to do the things Presidents do: [inter alia] ... appoint judges and officers of the United States."

We elect them to appoint judges by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. And the Constitution explicitly gives the Senate authority to determine its own rules for how it does business. The Senate doesn't "hijack" the nomination process by adopting rules that govern how it gives its advice or consent (unless that rule violates some other constitutional provision - a rule that said "the senate refuses its advice and consent to all Catholic nominees" or "the senate refuses its advice and consent to all female nominees" would obviously be unconstitutional). That charge is rhetorical not substantive. Although it's true that the grant of power to the Senate to confirm judges comes from a different article from that granting it legislative authority, and although it's true that the Senate has maintained separate calenders for executive and legislative business since its inception, those distinctions are too gelatinous to support the construction that Hugh urges us to rest on them.

jeff said...

"Jeff, I don't think we do disagree, actually, unless you have more in mind than you wrote."

No, that was pretty much it. If the minority feels strongly about something enough to bring the business of the Senate to a screeching halt then they should do it. But this Gentleman's agreement where they have a virtual filibuster and life goes on doesn't cost anyone anything.

Bissage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bissage said...

Meade, my friend, I remember it well.

And I have the good people of Iowa to thank for giving me cause to officially un-resign myself to the inevitability of a Hillary! presidency.

And Joe won’t say no. See, I’ve invited him over for dinner. I’ll show him the pansy, geranium and rose mallow seedlings already growing in the basement and he’ll have to say yes. He won’t have the heart to forsake them to the machinations of the embreasted Clinton and her fearsome powers of eminent domain.

USDA zone 6b rocks!!!

LonewackoDotCom said...

I'm not surprised he'd ask for more questions, since the ones he was asked were so incredibly weak. Are you an agent of change? Do you have enough money? Fifth graders running for student body president could field those with ease.

In fact, I'll send Althouse $5 via PayPal if she asks McCain this question for the next call.

All she has to do is read it and write down (or record if permitted) the response, and she'll get $5.

rcocean said...

McCain's main defense of the Gang of 14 is that preserved the right of a future Republican Senate minority to Filibuster some "extreme" Democrat nominee in the future.

Which is insane. We gave up the chance to get rid of the filibuster and confirm many POTUS judges. We got nothing substantive in return.

If the Democrats ever get a Democrat senate and the POTUS they will -if necessary- do the nuclear option. The fact that the Republicans in 2006 wimped out will have no bearing on *their* using the option. They have shown in the past 20 years that precedent and 'Gentlemen's Agreements' mean nothing when Judicial appointments are involved.

Further, the Republicans approved Ginsburg & Breyer even though we had the majority. Its impossible to imagine any Obama or Clinton nominee being more left than Ginsburg.

So, McCain, Grahame, and friends gave away a number of confirmable judges for nothing more than a vague "precedent" which will be broken by the Democrats whenever they have the will and the power to do so.

Simon said...

rcocean said...
"McCain's main defense of the Gang of 14 is that preserved the right of a future Republican Senate minority to Filibuster some 'extreme' Democrat nominee in the future. Which is insane. We gave up the chance to get rid of the filibuster and confirm many POTUS judges. We got nothing substantive in return."

What we got in return is the fact that we prevented the abuse of the Constitution to further a transient goal. That is reason enough in itself to shut it down. Moreover, your comment is incoherent; you first parry left, seeming to argue that you'd like to "get rid of the filibuster," lamenting that McCain "gave up the chance to get rid [of it]," but then tack right, bemoaning that the Democrats will abolish the filibuster.

The bottom line is, if you want to change the Senate rules, do it properly, at the beginning of the session, as Gupta & Gould (inter alios) outlined. And if you want to blame someone for the situation re Bush's nominations, blame Frist for his failure to do precisely that, not those who thwarted his attempt to make up for his ineptitude using means that were not permissible.

There's good reasons to oppose McCain, but this isn't one of them, and may even be a stroke in his favor to the extent that it bears on his views of the Constitution, which in turn bears on the kind of judges he would appoint, which is of course the whole ball game.

Trooper York said...

It "bears" on the type of judges he will appoint. He's going to appoint bears. I hope he doesn't appoint Yogi. Or Boo Boo. Now Smokey I could see. Even Gentle Ben. He could be a regular Oliver
Wendel Horribilis.

V the K said...

Has everybody just forgotten McCain-Feingold? Has everyone just forgotten his opposition to the Bush Tax Cuts?

And despite his repeated denials, his Amnesty bill *was* an amnesty bill, and when John Cornyn tried to improve it, McRino told him to "F--- off!"

And we're just supposed to forget any of this ever happened?

McCain is the master of inauthentic authenticity. He says just enough to go against the conventional wisdom, but never enough to actual imperil his candidacy. And the media swoons. "He's telling conservatives what they don't want to hear. We love people who tell conservatives what they don't want to hear."

I will vote for anyone against McCain, except maybe Edwards, and then I'd just sit out.

V the K said...

I also notice the Democrats repaid McCain's generosity by gaveling phony sessions in the Senate over Christmas... to prevent Bush from making recess appointments.

Maybe McCain should talk to his "good friend" Ted Kennedy. Or tap him as a running mate.

Simon said...

Blogger V the K said...
"Has everybody just forgotten McCain-Feingold? Has everyone just forgotten his opposition to the Bush Tax Cuts?

Nope. Haven't forgotten that, like the current President, he's for amnesty, too. He's not my first choice for the nomination. But I'm afraid that where BCRA is concerned, I take an "are all the laws but one" position - McCain is weak on the first amendment. We get it. All of the Democratic candidates are weak on the entire Constitution. This isn't rocket science. If McCain is the nominee, he gets my vote. If I thought McCain was the most electable candidate, he'd get my vote. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Don't fool yourself into thinking that we can risk four years with a Democratic House, Senate and White House won't cause incalculable harm to this country.

"I also notice the Democrats repaid McCain's generosity by gaveling phony sessions in the Senate over Christmas... to prevent Bush from making recess appointments."

First, they would have done that with or without McCain's actions. It's silly to blame him for that. Second, since the posts Bush would have filled didn't comport with the recess appointments clause in the first place, I'm not losing sleep over it.

rcocean said...

Simon:

I'm a little puzzled as to why the Nuclear Option is "Unconstitutional".
I've read the constitution and didn't find the word "filibuster'.

My point on the Nuclear Option is simply this: First, I don't like the filibuster of Judges, period. But even if we accept as a practical matter that filibusters were OK, McCain's defense of his actions (We've preserved the right to Filibuster Democrat nominated Judges) is B.S. Every session of the Senate writes its own rules.

And the Democrats will NOT be bound by precedent or "gentlemen's Agreements" when it comes to Federal Judges. In 2009, they will pass the nuclear option if they consider it necessary to get more liberals on the bench.

As a conservative, and not a Republican, I will not vote for McCain period. Your assumption he would appoint OK judges is wishful thinking. McCain at heart is a liberal on social issues and is only constrained by the views of Arizona and the Republican nominating base.

Once President, he will be able to revert to his "Maverick" self and bask in the approval of the New York Times Op ed page.

Simon said...

rcocean said...
"Simon: I'm a little puzzled as to why the Nuclear Option is "Unconstitutional". I've read the constitution and didn't find the word "filibuster'."

Rcocean, calling the nuclear option "unconstitutional" is an adequate shorthand, but it's linguistically a little difficult (which is why I didn't use that term, although I have done in the past). I feel like I'm repeating myself a little, but so be it. The process of the nuclear option involved making a claim that the Constitution says something that it does not say in order to trump the rules of the Senate. As I noted above, the Constitution gives the Senate authority to make its own rules of proceedings, but obviously a rule that conflicted with a countervailing Constitutional requirement (the establishment clause, for example, or a rule that provided that the President of the Senate would preside over all impeachments, including that of the President of the U.s., contra Art. I § 3) would be invalid and could be voided by the ruling of the presiding officer. The scam in the nuclear option was that when a cloture vote failed, someone would raise a point of order that the Constitution requires a simple majority for confirmation votes, which of course it doesn't. While the background supposition is certainly that the baseline would be simple majority votes, the rules and procedings clause gives ample power to Congress to deviate from that baseline by adopting both de jure and de facto supermajority and submajority rules, except for those matters on which the Constitution explicitly requires supermajorities (the afore-mentioned impeachments clause, for example, the veto override clause, or the make treaties clause).


"McCain at heart is a liberal on social issues and is only constrained by the views of Arizona and the Republican nominating base."

I have no idea what candidate you're talking about. You seem to have him confused with Rudy Giuliani. He's pro-life, he's anti gay marriage, what socon hot button issue is he "liberal" on? The principle concerns with Giuliani are his total contempt for the first amendment (see BCRA) and his support for amnesty on immigation, neither of which can be called "liberal" policies with precision.

rcocean said...

Simon:

Thanks for your response on the nuclear option being "unconstitutional." I won't dispute your analysis except to say that the rules of the Senate are -within limits -what a majority say they are.

Given that a majority of the Senators adapt rules regarding super- majorities at the beginning of each session, I see no reason why a majority can't change them whenever they wish. Further, a new session is not bound by the rules of the previous one.

The unconstitutionality argument which formed the basis of the "nuclear option" may be unpersuasive but that is, IMO, irrelevant. The filibuster itself is simply an illegitimate devise for a minority to block the majority from approving a POTUS nominee.

Which is why the only SCOTUS nominee to be filibustered since 1900 was Fortus. And even that was simply a delaying tactic.

rcocean said...

"I have no idea what candidate you're talking about. You seem to have him confused with Rudy Giuliani. He's pro-life, he's anti gay marriage, what socon hot button issue is he "liberal" on? The principle concerns with Giuliani are his total contempt for the first amendment (see BCRA) and his support for amnesty on immigation, neither of which can be called "liberal" policies with precision."

Sorry, for not making myself more clear. Given McCain hostility to the Religious right and his love of the MSM and need for their approval, I'm suggesting that his social conservatism is an expression of political expediency & not a firm personal belief. See his stance on the confederate flag issue in 2000.Further, I remember in 2000 campaign McCain stating that he didn't want Roe v. Wade overturned.

McCain votes conservative on SoCon issues but never talks about them unless asked. And as stated before, given his stance on other issues and the fact that he is from AZ, one of the most conservative states in the union, it would be political suicide for him to come out in favor of Gay Marriage or Abortion.

Should he be elected POTUS, we will see what the REAL McCain thinks on these issues. Given his love for MSM approval and the love Ted Kennedy and John Kerry feel for him, I think he would "grow in office" in a rather rapid manner.

Simon said...

rcocean said...
"I won't dispute your analysis except to say that the rules of the Senate are -within limits -what a majority say they are."

That's correct, but when the rules adopted by the majority include a process for amending the rules, that process has to be followed. So in January every other year, when a new Senate convenes, absent objection the rules of the previous Senate continue with unanimous consent. The time to object to the rules is when the Senate convenes. Frist didn't do that, which meant that any subsequent change to the rules had to be done within those rules. The problem is that once the rules are adopted, the rules permit the filibustering of a motion to change the rules, which is precisely why it was so difficult to adopt a rule providing for cloture (Julian Zelizer's book The American Congress has an excellent treatment of that fight, IIRC).

"The unconstitutionality argument which formed the basis of the "nuclear option" may be unpersuasive but that is, IMO, irrelevant. The filibuster itself is simply an illegitimate devise for a minority to block the majority from approving a POTUS nominee."

It's irrelevant if you're moving to change the rules without suggesting that the Constitution demands it - that is, if you're just asserting that it's illegitimate as a normative matter. But when it's asserted that this is a constitutional problem and that the Constitution trumps the rules, then what the Constitution actually says is not only relevant, it's dispositive.