McCain's Triple Flip-Flop on Immigration
It was just three weeks ago that John McCain rewrote his autobiography by proclaiming, "I never considered myself a maverick." Now, the draconian new immigration law in his home state of Arizona has highlighted McCain's tortured reversals on the issue. As even CNN noted on Friday, John McCain was for comprehensive immigration reform before he was against it before he was for it and, ultimately, against it again.
Hard-pressed on his right flank by J.D. Hayworth, John McCain on Monday broke his silence on the new law. He endorsed the measure as a "good tool" because, among other things, "drivers of cars with illegals in them that are intentionally causing accidents on the freeways."
For their part, Suzanne Malveaux and Dana Bash of CNN went to the videotape to show McCain's pathetic back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth on immigration.
MALVEAUX: Where does he stand now? How is he playing into this debate?
BASH: He used to be, but not any more. In fact, if you look over the years, he has had various positions dealing with this. And it really depended on what election battle he was in at the time.
I want to start back in 2007. He was actually the lead Republican sponsor on bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform...
As they noted, in 2007, John McCain went from co-sponsoring comprehensive reform legislation with Ted Kennedy to telling Republican primary voters in January 2008 he would not vote for his own proposal because "The people want the borders secured first." But with the GOP nomination in hand, McCain told Hispanic voters in July 2008 to trust him because, "I remain committed to fair, practical and comprehensive immigration reform." Alas, that was then and this is now. Facing a primary battle from Hayworth' and his band of xenophobic Tea Baggers, the never-was-a-maverick told Bill O'Reilly this week:
"The state of Arizona is acting and doing what it feels it needs to do in light of the fact that the federal government is not fulfilling its fundamental responsibility -- to secure our borders."
As his failing presidential campaign languished in September 2008, a frustrated John McCain challenged ABC's The View:
"I've been through this litany before, where I say, 'ok, what specific area have I quote changed?' Nobody can name it...I am the same person and I have the same principles."
Of the literally dozens of McCain reversals, here's one where McCain "quote changed" three times in under three years: immigration reform.
UPDATE: In a Friday press conference, McCain ratcheted up his new hardline rhetoric, announcing, "If the president doesn't like what the Arizona Legislature and governor may be doing, then I call on the president to immediately call for the dispatch of 3,000 National Guard troops to our border and mandate that 3,000 additional Border Patrol [officers] be sent to our border as well." Meanwhile, McCain's pal Lindsey Graham is threatening to walk away from the climate bill because "moving forward on immigration -- in this hurried, panicked manner -- is nothing more than a cynical political ploy."
(This piece previously appeared at Crooks and Liars.)