Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Panderer in Chief

John McCain is a panderer. That’s old news. What’s new is the extent to which the self-declared straight-talking maverick is embracing the politics of flip-flopping.

“Immigration is probably a more powerful issue here than almost anyplace that I’ve been,” McCain said after a stop in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Indeed, immigration is so powerful that it’s causing the senator to rethink his so-called principles.

This, in itself, is troubling enough, but when you consider that immigration is so important to McCain that, together with Ted Kennedy, he sponsored a major piece of legislation on it, you wonder what principles McCain really adheres to.

Among other things, McCain-Kennedy would allow most illegal immigrants to become citizens without leaving the country. Now, as the Times’s Adam Nagourney reports, after a swing through Iowa— which “has become something of a laboratory for the politics of immigration”—McCain finds himself “open to legislation” requiring illegals to return home before applying for citizenship.

This is not the first time McCain has stuck his foot in his mouth on this issue. In a lengthy profile in last month’s Vanity Fair, he declared, “I think the fence [across the U.S. southern border] is least effective. But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.”

McCain is running to be America’s Commander in Chief, but perhaps a better title would be Panderer in Chief.