These are positions with which conservatives would naturally argue. And perhaps they are right that McCain is more moderate than conservative, but so is the nation. Alternatively, McCain's maverick lawmaking might be viewed as principled compromise -- or at least an earnest attempt to inject humane ethics into the mix.
Serious people don't really believe that the U.S. government is going to round up 11 million or 12 million people and ship them back to wherever they came from. It isn't going to happen.
Government parceling of free speech via McCain-Feingold, a portion of which has been found unconstitutional, can't otherwise be justified unless you figure, as McCain does, that purchased speech isn't free. When some people have greater access to "free speech" by virtue of their deeper pockets, then one could fairly argue that less prosperous people are denied free speech.
McCain's fire-breathing opponents, meanwhile, disregard his support of other positions Republicans hold dear. He has a strong pro-life voting record (except for supporting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research), has opposed wasteful spending, and has been steadfast in supporting the war. But, stepping outside the GOP box, he opposes torture, including waterboarding.
How dare a man who was tortured for five years in a Vietnamese prison depart from the party line?
Anti-McCain rage for many comes down to personality. He doesn't play nice and his independence annoys those who prefer the team player mentality.
But Republicans' obstinance in claiming to prefer Clinton to McCain is arrogance of a Clintonian order. To wit: Hillary Clinton has said that as president she would not listen to generals in Iraq and would withdraw troops no matter what.
Because? Any progress that may now be occurring in Iraq, she said, is owing to the current presidential race. The Iraqi government knows that when Clinton becomes president, the free ride is over. It's all because of her, in other words.
On exactly what principle would Republicans reward that kind of grandiosity and make Hillary Clinton -- but not John McCain -- commander in chief of America's armed forces?