Sen. John McCain got testy in an address to a department of the AFL-CIO today.
Sen. John McCain threatened on Tuesday to cut short a speech to union leaders who booed his immigration views and later challenged his statements on organized labor and the Iraq war.
“If you like, I will leave,” McCain told the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, pivoting briefly from the lectern. He returned to the microphone after the crowd quieted.
“OK, then please give me the courtesy I would give you.”
It was a colorful and contentious session, producing as many laughs as boos, that tested McCain’s commitment to the straight-talking, wisecracking image he honed during his failed 2000 presidential bid. An underdog six years ago, the Arizona Republican is expected to seek the 2008 GOP nomination as a front-runner.
“I loved it. I love mixing it up like that,” McCain said after the speech to a Democratic-leaning crowd of several hundred.
Nevermind the booing. McCain can expect to receive more of that kind of thing should he enter the race for the White House in 2008. Moreover, it is expected that members of the liberal AFL-CIO would disagree more than agree with a Republican. What’s interesting to me is the subtext of the story. The so-called “testing of McCain’s commitment to the straight-talking, wisecracking image”. After goo goo’ing over McCain in 2000, the same MSM is now turning on the same John McCain. If John expects a free media ride in 2008, he should rethink that strategy. An editorial on DNRonline.com observes…
Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne attacked Sen. McCain for agreeing to give a commencement speech at Liberty University. That criticism was echoed by NBC Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert Sunday. The New York Times hyperventilating columnist Paul Krugman launched an attack in his Monday column. The basis of the attack is that Sen. McCain was once a straight-talker but now has sold out to the religious right.
Of course, roughly translated, the gang of Krugman/Dionne and others mean, “We considered Sen. McCain an honest, upright guy only when he agreed with us.” Have they forgotten that the essence of a “maverick” — a word often associated with Sen. McCain — is that he will anger both sides of the political spectrum.
As the senator noted on Meet the Press, why should a speech at Liberty University be considered controversial when he also has given speeches at Yale and Harvard, two universities that bar the ROTC program? It’s a good question and has not been answered by Sen. McCain’s critics.
Those critics want to claim the religious right is beyond the fringe of American politics, but it clearly is not. Pat Robertson may make some bizarre statements from time to time, but he doesn’t command much attention from the millions of Americans who hold positive views of Liberty University.
Sen. McCain will continue to disagree with the religious right on some matters, and he will continue to disagree with the secular left. Perhaps that leaves him only at the center of American politics but, after all, that is not a bad place to be.
It all comes down to this – how badly does John McCain want to be president? If it’s bad enough, he’ll pull a “Kerry” and convert his straight talk express into the turbo pandering machine. Has this already begun? Some say so.
And if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…