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John McCain is "Too Conservative"... In Phoenix

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Did you hear the news about John McCain being so closely associated with the conservative right, than he alienated some Democrats and Independents?

I know, I know. The notion of McCain being “too conservative” just doesn’t fit with the headlines and the stereotypes. And given that America’s most politically influential Evangelical Christian, Dr. James Dobson, has stated that he will never vote for John McCain, it just doesn’t make sense that the Senator would have any association or connection with social conservatives at all.

But I’m headquartered in McCain’s home state of Arizona (the capitol city of Phoenix, no less), and I’ve been covering McCain in both local and national media for nine years. I can assure you that there are a few details about his “conservatism” most people around the country have either forgotten, or have never known about.

The frustrations among fiscal conservatives over McCain’s unwillingness to support President Bush’s tax cut proposals are quite widely known. I was frustrated at that time, as well, given that McCain was (and still is) representing me in the Senate. It’s such a rare thing when the President and a majority in the Congress actually agree that cutting taxes is a good and noble thing, and to think that my Senior Senator - - my Republican Senator, no less - - was voting against it, was repugnant.

McCain’s stated argument against the “Bush tax cuts” was that, in his view, any reduction in tax revenues should be accompanied by a corresponding cut in federal spending. I don’t agree with this argument. I think it’s just fine to “starve the beast” of government - - spending will necessarily have to be reduced sooner or later.

But McCain is the Senator, and I am not. And while I didn’t like they way he voted on this issue, it’s difficult to say that his arguing for “fiscal restraint” in the Congress wasn’t warranted - - even “way back then.”

What fiscal conservative could say that they are not sickened by the spending behaviors of both the President, and the Congress, for most of the Bush presidency? McCain’s stand on fiscal restraint is, unfortunately, a minority position among both Republicans and Democrats. Yet it is one that is part and partial to being a “fiscal conservative,” and Republicans would do well to heed Mr. McCain’s call for fiscal discipline.

But while I understand the “McCain pain” among many fiscal conservatives, I’m a little less understanding of the attitudes towards McCain emanating from many social conservatives. Throughout his career in public office, Mr. McCain has always been unapologetically “pro-life,” and has always insisted that “marriage” is defined as relationship between one man, and one woman.

Some would argue that McCain is not sufficiently “pro family,” because of his unwillingness to support a constitutional amendment that further strengthens this traditional definition of marriage. While the so-called “marriage amendment” was being contemplated in the Senate back in 2006, McCain argued quite out in the open that the question of how to define marriage is best left to the individual states, and ought not be dealt with in the Congress.

McCain further argued that, in any event, amending the constitution is very risky business, and should not be utilized by social conservatives as a political tactic, lest the Congress and the White House be taken over by the opposing party at some point in the future. This was during the late Spring of 2006; and McCain’s concerns proved to be valid, when, only a few months later in November of that year, the Democratic party won control of both the House and the Senate.

So if McCain is perceived as not being sufficiently “pro family,” how could he at the same time be perceived as “too closely aligned” with social conservatives?

Well - - turns out that in McCain’s hometown of Phoenix, Mayor Phil Gordon endorsed McCain’s presidential campaign. Mayor Gordon is a Democrat (albeit a moderate Democrat), and while it is not surprising to see Mr. Gordon support our Senior Senator’s presidential bid, his choice in doing so is strikingly different from the Obama endorsement that came from our liberal Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano.

But guess what has happened to Mayor Gordon, since he announced his support for McCain as president? He’s dealing with a backlash from Phoenix’ “LBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and Tran gendered) community.”

You see, back in 2006 Senator McCain did a television ad campaign supporting a statewide ballot initiative that sought to prohibit any changes in the definition of marriage (the “Protect Marriage Arizona” initiative). Social conservatives loved McCain for this, while moderates and liberals hated it (supporters of the initiative became known as “the McCain’backed bigots” in the minds of some).

The ballot initiative failed, and yet, in the process, McCain got labeled as a “social conservative” among many of the most liberal of Arizonans. Thus, when Mayor Phil Gordon endorsed McCain for president, the LBGT community of Phoenix felt a sense of betrayal.

So many details, and nuances, and different angles. They’re all a part of John McCain

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