MCCAIN: I believe that the “Christian Right” has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason is because they’re so active and their followers are. […]
RUSSERT: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?
MCCAIN: No, I don’t.
Russert’s choice of the phrase “agent of intolerance” was quite deliberate, because that’s what McCain called Falwell back in 2000:
"Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell on the right."
McCain is clearly no longer a “maverick” within the GOP, but simply another potential candidate grubbing for wingnut endorsements. Cenk Uygur details McCain’s transition to the dark side, and refers to his nascent 2008 campaign as the “Sell-Out Express.” Uygur notes:
I voted for John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries. I thought he would have made an excellent president. I was proud to support this American hero and rare courageous politician.
So, it is with profound disappointment that I say that we have lost John McCain. He has become what he warned us against. He has turned into a pandering politician who will stop at nothing to get elected.
What a disappointment, indeed.
update (4/4, 8:57AM):
In “The Tragic Irony of John McCain's Faustian Bargain,” Arianna Huffington lays down her bona fides:
I come here not to condemn John McCain but to weep for him.
Watching a true American hero hang a For Sale sign on his principles is a profoundly sad thing. Especially for me.
I've long admired, respected -- indeed loved -- John McCain. I've written many columns about him citing his courage and integrity, traveled with him on the Straight Talk Express, been to his home and met his wonderful family, and introduced him as the keynote speaker at the 2000 Shadow Convention I helped organize by calling him "the most prominent voice for reform within the political system." In fact, I am still on the advisory committee of his Reform Institute.
Even though we've frequently disagreed on issues, I have always been impressed with the unfailingly above-board way he has navigated the often choppy waters of political leadership. Until now.
It's worse than a Faustian bargain. At least Faust got what he desired in exchange for his soul. McCain, in giving up the core of who he is -- as a man and as a leader -- may actually be destroying his chances of getting what he so desires.
The saddest thing is not how McCain has betrayed us -- it's how he has betrayed himself.