It seems that a lot of McCain apologists are latching onto his 82.3% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU) and the old “Our 80% friend is not our 20% enemy” line to show that McCain would not be a total disaster for Conservatives. (He's not just our 80% friend, he's our 82.3% friend!)
I did a little digging at the ACU website (because who has anything better to do, right?) and found that McCain's average from 2000 to 2006 (the last year data is available), when St. John went from being a “Foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution” to being the “Maverick”, his ACU average is 74.86%. So, not the, um, solid “B-” Conservative, but a “C”, bordering on “C-” Conservative.
In fact, McCain's rating for 2006 was 65% (almost an “F” where I went to school). The only Republicans who had a poorer rating that year were Senators Stevens, Lugar, Snowe, Collins, Voinovich, Specter, Chafee, and Warner. What a distinguished cadre of conservatism that is! Snowe (36%), Collins (48%), Chafee (24%), and Warner (64%) were all part of McCain's “Gang of 14”; Stevens (64%) was the champion of the “Bridge to Nowhere” that McCain loves to rail against; Voinovich (56%) effectively killed John Bolton's nomination to the UN (and cried about it); Specter (43%) is leading McCain's campaign against waterboarding; and Lugar (64%), Warner, Snowe, and Collins have all been less-than-steadfast on McCain's signature issue of Iraq in the last year.
It should also be mentioned that Chafee lost reelection in 2006, Warner is retiring and is effectively handing his seat over to Democrat Mark Warner, and Stevens and Collins could both easily lose in this year's election.
This is John McCain's peer group in the US Senate! A bunch of RINOs and wobbly quasi-Conservatives who have and are dooming the Republican party to a long stint in the minority. And, yet, somehow John McCain is the “...conservative leader who can unite the party”? He and his Senate buddies are the future of our party? Eek.
Forget about the fact that McCain's only real, buck-stops-here executive experience is managing his campaign which is disorganized and broke, that we haven't elected a sitting senator since 1960 (and I don't think that any sane person would equate whatever appeal McCain has to that of JFK), that McCain still hasn't sworn off the public financing of his campaign which would mean being outspent 4:1 by the Democrats, that he's got plenty of personal dirt for the Democrats to delve into (cheating on and leaving his sick wife, the outbursts of temper, etc.), or that he'll be 12 or 26 (!) years older than his Democratic opponent on election day.
No, the real problem is that the pre-2000 version of John McCain is not the one that's running, folks. We're getting the post-2000 version in all of his 74.86% glory. He won't unite the base and they won't turn out, Hillary Clinton or not. The only way that Republicans are going to win is if they are more motivated than the Democrats, and voting for a 74.86% Conservative isn't very motivational.
God help us all.