Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign sent out a press release this morning touting support from seven state attorneys general, including our very own Rob McKenna.
Both McCain and McKenna are often portrayed in the media as the kind of straight-talking, moderate Republicans who tend to appeal to WA’s independent and cross-over voters… when in fact they are both ruthlessly partisan political opportunists whose conservative credentials are well established with all but the most far-right-leaning elements of their already far-right-leaning party.
Take for example the quote McKenna provided for McCain’s press release:
“Senator McCain continues to garner support among legal and law enforcement leaders because of his stances on state rights and his role in brokering the confirmations of Justices Roberts and Alito,” said McKenna. “I’m honored to give John my support and I appreciate his leadership on the issues that count.”
The issues that count.
No, it’s not campaign finance reform that McKenna lauds — the issue that originally earned McCain his faux-maverick status — it’s his role in confirming Justices Roberts and Alito, two of the most far-right-leaning justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court… justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, uphold the President’s suspension of habeas corpus, and vastly expand executive power. These are partisan, right-wing, Republican justices — darlings of the Federalist Society. And McKenna thinks they’re just grand.
I suppose coming from a state GOP that includes the likes of Val Stevens, and has nominated Ellen Craswell and John Carlson for high office, McKenna might come off as a relative moderate. But while our state’s editorialists seem intent on talking up the carefully crafted McKenna and his prospects for governor or the US Senate, they willfully ignore the shrewd realpolitik that has defined his career. How can McKenna be constantly lauded for bipartisanship without mentioning his extraordinarily close relationship with the viciously partisan political thugs at the BIAW? And how can the media continue to accept McKenna’s mildly pro-choice statements at face value, when he applauds McCain’s efforts to confirm Supreme Court justices who would take that choice away?
McCain is the most conservative candidate running with a shot at the GOP nomination, and McKenna has enthusiastically endorsed him because he is the viable candidate who best represents his own values. And what are McCain’s self-proclaimed values?
“I am confident that this nation is not a center — I think they’re right. I think they’re basically conservative, the majority are basically conservatives, and I think that if we get back on our message, get back to the principles, philosophies and messages of Ronald Reagan and others, I think we’ll do just fine. But first we have to get over our state of denial.”
WA’s media has to get over its state of denial too. Rob McKenna is a conservative. That is how he would legislate. That is how he would govern. And as such, he is out of step with the mainstream of WA voters.
Erica Barnett slogged that McKenna’s “no moderate” back on Feb 23, when the AP first reported he would endorse McCain. In that article, the AP matter-of-factly describes McKenna as “a moderate.”
That’s my point. It is not just the editorialists who should be held accountable for how they are misreporting McKenna’s politics, but the supposedly objective reporters. It is not an undisputed fact that McKenna is a moderate, and thus McKenna should not be described as such in a news report without attribution or citation.