Today, the Associated Press published an article titled “McCain More Conservative Than His Image” that looks at how Republican Party presidential candidate John McCain is considerably more “conservative” than his public image. For years, McCain has been deemed a “maverick” by the media. McCain is often seen as a Senator who antagonizes both Republicans and Democrats, despite the fact that his actual voting record is generally supportive of the right and the Republican Party. The article points out that McCain stands with the Republicans on:
* Iraq. McCain criticized the earlier handling of the war but has been a crucial ally in President Bush’s effort to increase and maintain U.S. forces in Iraq.
* Abortion. McCain promises to appoint judges who, in the mold of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, are likely to limit the reach of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. McCain’s record is not spotless on abortion: He said once, in 1999, that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. But that amounted to a blip in an otherwise unbroken record of opposing abortion rights for women.
“I am pro-life and an advocate for the rights of man everywhere in the world,” McCain told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. “Because to be denied liberty is an offense to nature and nature’s Creator.”
* Gay rights. McCain opposes gay marriage. True, he does not support a federal ban on gay marriage on grounds the issue traditionally has been decided by states. But McCain worked to ban gay marriage in Arizona. He also supports the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and he opposed legislation to protect gay people from job discrimination or hate crimes.
“I’m proud to have led an effort in my home state to change our state constitution and to protect the sanctity of marriage as between a man and woman,” he told CNN in March. “I will continue to advocate for those fundamental principals of our party and our faith.”
* Gun control. McCain voted against a ban on assault-style weapons and for shielding gun-makers and dealers from civil suits. He did vote in favor of requiring background checks at gun shows, but in general he sides with the National Rifle Association in favor of gun rights.
While the Associated Press article has its problems–for example its reliance on polls to try to predict how voters might vote in November–it is generally a good example of a journalist examining a candidate’s record rather than focusing on more trivial details. Unfortunately, while most major party candidates have lengthy voting records, their records are rarely the focus of the media’s reporting.