The bottom line is that Mr. McCain isn't a moderate; he's a man of the hard right. How far right? A statistical analysis of Mr. McCain's recent voting record, available at www.voteview.com, ranks him as the Senate's third most conservative member.Question for the evening, thrown out by a reader: "If McCain were a Democrat and Rove were going after him for a national campaign (ie, not just some race-baiting bullshit for the South Carolina yokels), what would he be doing?"
What about Mr. McCain's reputation as a maverick? This comes from the fact that every now and then he seems to declare his independence from the Bush administration, as he did in pushing through his anti-torture bill.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Guantanamo. President Bush, when signing the bill, appended a statement that in effect said that he was free to disregard the law whenever he chose. Mr. McCain protested, but there are apparently no hard feelings: at the recent Southern Republican Leadership Conference he effusively praised Mr. Bush.
And I'm sorry to say that this is typical of Mr. McCain. Every once in a while he makes headlines by apparently defying Mr. Bush, but he always returns to the fold, even if the abuses he railed against continue unabated.