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McCain's 180-Degree Fail on DREAM Act is Politics of Spite

 
 
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Over the course of two years, a wide variety of Senate Republicans were willing to break ranks and support key items on President Obama's agenda. "Maverick" John McCain (R-Ariz.) wasn't one of them -- he opposed the White House's position on literally every controversial vote.

It's tough picking the worst moment. Was it his loathsome antics during the fight over DADT repeal? How about his willingness to blow off his own party's foreign policy establishment and flip-flop on New START ratification?

There's a strong case to be made for his actions on the DREAM Act. (via John Cole)

McCain also voted no Saturday on the Dream Act, which would have granted citizenship to thousands of foreign-born college students. He initially sponsored the legislation. [...]

[Grant Woods, an old friend who has known McCain for 28 years and was his first chief of staff] said "it hurts" McCain to vote against legislation like the Dream Act after years of working on reform but said the senator felt betrayed when Latinos overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008. "When you carry that fight at great sacrifice year after year and then you are abandoned during the biggest fight of your life, it has to have some sort of effect on you," he said.

 

At face value, this is pretty awful, at least in a moral sense. McCain opposed a bill related to basic decency, which he championed for years, because Latino voters hurt his feelings? That's a reasonable rationale for punishing thousands of kids?

But if we put that aside, there's another problem -- the timeline doesn't add up.

To hear McCain's long-time ally explain it, McCain turned on immigration-reform advocates after they voted for President Obama in 2008. But that's not what happened in reality. During the Republican primaries, as part of McCain shift to the hard-right in order to win the GOP nomination, McCain announced he'd rejected his own immigration reform bill, and declared his opposition to the DREAM Act he had co-sponsored.

In other words, McCain had invested time, energy, and political capital into doing the right thing on immigration policy, and threw it all away to have a shot at the presidency. Hispanic voters noticed, and decided they needed a consistent ally, not someone who'd abandon them for political expediency. They voted against him in large numbers precisely because he'd already abandoned them.

McCain feels "betrayed"? That's backwards. 

 

Washington Monthly / By Steve Benen

Posted at December 23, 2010, 5:30am

 
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