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May 25, 2005

The President's Incredible Vanishing Convictions

This week's New Yorker has a fawning profile on McCain, one of those looong cover stories underscoring his deep commitment to honesty, noble way, rugged good looks, and long-lived mother (I'm not kidding). Strangely enough, it also had something very interesting. When McCain ran in 2000, he received Gary Bauer's endorsement. Bauer, of course, is the hardcore Christian who ran for the Republican nomination, and his word carries weight. Now why did McCain get it, rather than committed evangelical George W. Bush?

Apparently Bauer asked both candidates to pledge that their Supreme Court nominees would be pro-life. McCain agreed. Bush said he refused to have a litmus test. Bauer backs up this account, as do friends of McCain.


I'd be inclined to dismiss the tale except for the simple fact that McCain did indeed receive Bauer's endorsement, while Robertson and Falwell, modern-day Mammons that they are, went with Bush because of McCain's ardent support of campaign finance reform. This joins a surprisingly large body of accounts attesting to Bush's private courage: the tapes where he repeatedly refused to "kick gays around", the friends who remember his tolerance and distaste for homophobic language in college, and so forth.

So why doesn't Bush exhibit any of this courage publicly? In private, he's willing to disappoint buddies and reject allies on principle. Turn on the cameras, however, and he backs the FMA, appoints a stunningly large variety of crazy, anti-choice judges, and generally demagogues his way forward. Has Bush, indeed, nominated a single pro-choice judge? Even one? And was his pre-election admission that he supports civil rights and disagrees with the party platform a McCain-like attempt to atone for past opportunism?

It's all very weird.

May 25, 2005 in Bush the Man | Permalink


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I think it shows that Bush tries to appear as a moderate, even though he isn't one at all.

McCain on the other hand is definitely not the media's moderate darling like everyone thinks he is. He's quite a committed Republican with typical strong stances. The few differences are his committments to campaign finance reform and the fact that he won't mix religion and politics.

Posted by: Chris Woods | May 25, 2005 10:22:03 PM

According to this press release by an anti-abortion group, Barrington D. Parker and Roger Gregory, two black judges originally nominated by Clinton and renominated by Bush, are pro-abortion.

Posted by: James B. Shearer | May 25, 2005 10:30:01 PM

Trying to fix the link in my comment above.

Posted by: James B. Shearer | May 25, 2005 10:33:57 PM

follow the money

Posted by: Roxanne | May 25, 2005 11:25:23 PM

Bush cares about tax cuts for the wealthy and . . . tax cuts for the wealthy. He may have his private views on how the world ought to work, but his opinion is that the only thing that really has to happen for the US to be successful is for us to become a pseudo-laissez-faire crony capitalist paradise.

He also really wants to show his dad he has a bigger dick, and he's almost there. He's already done his dad one better in Iraq and in his second election; now it's time to kill Social Security and put it on his mantle. Once that's done, he'll have successfully gone mano a mano, and he'll laze around the Oval Office for a while. If he loses the SS battle, look for other craziness to take its place. He's got to win one final big one to tell daddy who's the bigger man.

Posted by: Kimmitt | May 26, 2005 12:33:45 AM

I'm going to pretend that Mr. Shearer is simply mistaken in his language: there is no pro-abortion position. To the extent there may be one, it is found among those who wish to make birth control and sex education unavailable.

Posted by: paperwight | May 26, 2005 12:58:17 AM

I seem to remember McCain giving an impassioned speech in Michigan in 2000 going hard after the religious right: or the religious right that had endorsed Bush, mainly Falwell and Robertson. That speech was, of course, written with the help of Bauer. So there are interesting schisms there, just as there were in 1996 when Robertson took some flac for supporting Dole instead of Buchanan and just as there will be in 2008. But McCain is certainly not a good guy by any stretch of the imagination, and his courting of that part of the religious right is typical once you really figure out who he is.

Posted by: Zoidberg | May 26, 2005 9:08:32 AM

Maybe he's just a closet case. That would explain a lot!

Posted by: Don | May 26, 2005 9:18:31 AM

The President is the man. He promised tax free HSAs for all Americans and then he delivered. President Bush says, "HSAs have tax free deposit, growth and withdrawals." Now citizens can save, tax free, for retirement health care expenses. Of course money that is never taxed will last longer in retirement.

Our company reports that 43% of HSAs had no previous insurance. President Bush also wants HSAs to be an option in Medicare. Last week Iowa Governor Vilsack signed historic legislation allowing HSAs in Medicaid, the first state to do so.

In March HSAs enjoyed their first one million account holders. This is up from just 400,000 last September. You know what they say, "The first million is the hardest." So its downhill from here.

Posted by: Ron Greiner | May 26, 2005 9:35:35 AM

Mr. Greiner appears to be shilling for an HSA provider. As far as the number of people taking on HSAs, I'd like to see the number who lost other alternatives and/or the pricing of the alternatives the did have. If you have a choice betwen nothing and something, or nothing you can afford and something, you'll take something every time.

Forcing a lot of people into a bad plan does not make a bad plan good. It just means a lot of people were given a crappy set of choices.

Posted by: paperwight | May 26, 2005 10:48:31 AM

It's worse than that paperwight. Our insurance company was the first in America with MSAs (now HSAs) and my agency wrote it.

In Michigan tax payers are paying over $1,000 a month for state employees' family insurance. In Oakland County teachers' family insurance costs over $1,500 a month for the tax payers. Yet in the free and open market HSA insurance for a family of four costs under $150 a month in Lansing (30 year old couple and 2 children).

The nice thing about HSA insurance is that it must pay 100% after a maximum Out-Of-Pocket that the insured decides. Ours pays 100% even on Rx. If you have your insurance through your employer paperwight, what happens if you get too sick to work? Does your employer put sick emplyees to COBRA for insurance termination? That's not the good stuff paperwight.

Are licensed paperwight?

Posted by: Ron Greiner | May 26, 2005 11:10:44 AM

Ron, you didn't even have the good taste to begin your post with "Totally OT, but..."

The people are kind of complicated. Honestly, Ezra, I think you're not giving enouogh credit to Bush's attempt at being personally charming. His style might be to bash gays in public but not to personally bash any gay person in private-- at least to their face. His modus operandi always seemed to be to act through surrogates and smear campaigns. Are these testimonies to Bush's "private courage"? No, I think Bush's apparent "discomfort" with anti-gay interest groups and his college friends was a manifestation of his desire to be the "alpha bully"-- he thinks that he is the only won worthy of bullying others, and he will do so at the time and place of his choosing.

Posted by: Constantine | May 26, 2005 11:37:50 AM

Back -on- topic...

Bauer, for all his political beliefs with which I strenuously disagree, is a pretty decent and genuine guy, and pretty sincere in his Christianity. (I have my doubts as to which of those apply to the president.) I remember the McCain endorsement, and though partly I thought Bauer wanted to be kingmaker and bringing religious right voters to McCain was more plausible than him having any impact on Bush's campaign, simultaneously it seemed like he honestly just thought McCain would be a better president.

I know: A Republican with sincere values and good judgment. Weird, right?

Posted by: Tony the Pony | May 26, 2005 11:44:41 AM

Okay, back off topic: Does anyone know what Greiner means by "paperwight"? I assume it's supposed to be "paperweight," but that doesn't exactly make, you know, sense.

And BTW: Do not click on his link. There's a pic in the top left of his webpage that I think celebrates pedophilia.

Posted by: Tony the Pony | May 26, 2005 11:46:32 AM

Does anyone know what Greiner means by "paperwight"?

He's trying to address the poster named "paperwight," but he doesn't know how to use commas to demonstrate that he is addressing that poster directly. "paperwight" is supposed to be the addressee of the sentence, not the subject or object, as it appears without the commas. It might be a bug in his scripts.

Posted by: Constantine | May 26, 2005 11:58:46 AM

Ahhh... thanks!

Posted by: Tony the Pony | May 26, 2005 12:19:53 PM

I have read the so-called HSA stuff here and it's just plain pathetic. The post on "finally a good HSA" isn't even an HSA plan, sorry. BusinessWeek didn't call it an HSA plan but Ezra does.

Nobody corrected him so I will.

Posted by: Ron Greiner | May 26, 2005 12:57:38 PM


Why didn't you correct Ezra when he posted about non HSA coverage being HSA coverage?

Is it you don't understand the law or what?

Posted by: Ron Greiner | May 26, 2005 1:03:49 PM

paperwight, you are mistaken, I consider myself to be pro-abortion. In my opinion "pro-life" and "pro-choice" are both political spin which I decline to go along with.

Posted by: James B. Shearer | May 26, 2005 1:18:49 PM

Ezra - there's been a fair amount of press comment on how Bush (the whole Bush family, really) places an unusually high premium on *loyalty*.

There's a fairly strong tradition in some circles that a man who is loyal to his friends and allies doesn't fight with them in public, even if he thinks they're wrong. He maintains a positive public front and then chews them out in private.

My family is from Texas, and this is the way my family handles things: a collective front to the outside world, even if we have differences internally. Bush's behavior is therefore not a surprise to me.

Posted by: aphrael | May 26, 2005 1:55:08 PM

Ezra, when you do a google search on "Ron Greiner," you'll find that he engages in making blog posts on HSAs on random various blogs to promote his website.

Ron, if you have issues with Ezra's posts on HSAs, then you should leave your comments there rather than spamming his other threads and the threads of other blogs. This post was about McCain, Gary Bauer, and the Christian conservative movement. What are your posts doing here?

Posted by: Constantine | May 26, 2005 2:52:14 PM

Anybody notice W's inconsistency on the stem cell thing, too? He's opposed to abortion and stem cell research, but not to IVF. Interestingly, his wife, after several years of infertility problems conceived fraternal twins. I hope the little Bush snowflakes were thawed and adopted 'cause I'd hate to think about that DNA being cloned.

Posted by: J Bean | May 26, 2005 4:37:21 PM

Constantine, how do you know what my motivation is?

When I promote my website I spend $500 a minute on Radio.

Posted by: Ron Greiner | May 26, 2005 4:57:38 PM

I think in private W may very well be more moderate than the public image he projects. It's just that he listens to Rove for his political advice and spouts whatever is handed to him. People keep saying he is really smarter than he seems, but I'm still waiting for evidence of that.

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