March 29, 2007

Who to believe...McCain or Daschle?
— Jack M.

Sadly, I believe Tom Daschle's claim that McCain was considering "jumping ship" in 2001 over the Arizona Senator's denials.

I was working in the Senate in 2001, and gossip concerning McCain's impending jump to "Independent" (a move which would have delivered operational control of the Senate to the Democrats) was all too common. In fact, many of my contemporaries in the Senate were surprised that Jeffords jumped before McCain did so.

Now gossip alone isn't a very good indicator of a claims veracity. Which is why I wanted to add a little backstory that may not be well known, so that you can factor this in as you judge these claims for yourself.

John McCain's cheif political advisor is a man named John Weaver. John Weaver is a brilliant campaign strategist, and is easily the "Darth Vader" to Karl Rove's "Emperor Palpatine". The power of the Sith flows freely through Weaver.

In fact, Weaver and Rove, who developed their political skills in the world of Texas politics, were partners in a political consulting/direct mail firm at one time. The partnership was successful, but ultimately self-defeating. For reasons I am still uncertain about, Weaver and Rove became vicious enemies. This blood fued lasts to this day.

Weaver and Rove went their seperate ways, but both continued to manage GOP campaigns into the late 1990's. And then Rove signed on with Bush 2000 and Weaver signed on with McCain, and the two went head to head for all the marbles.

Bush, and Rove by extension, won.

To the victors go the spoils. One of Rove's first acts (according to John Weaver) in 2000 was to contact GOP candidates who had used John Weaver's services in the past to inform them that the White House would not play ball with anyone associated with Weaver from that day forward.

I believe this happened. At one time, I worked for a candidate who had employed John Weaver, and was present for a discussion in which John Weaver's continued association with the candidate was discussed. Weaver was dismissed.

In fact, this happened so frequently that Weaver changed his party alignment. Having been a Republican consultant he became a Democrat as Republican officials and office seekers, wary of offending the White House, would not employ him.

To this day, Weaver is now predominantly a Democratic Campaign operative, McCain being the sole (as far as I know) exception.

I asked Weaver about this the last time I saw him (which was several years ago) because I like the guy. He is among the best there is at what he does. In conversation with him I suggested it "must be difficult to work against all those people you once worked with, and on the opposite side of the causes you believe in".

His semi-snarking response to me was "I've elected a lot of Republicans. That's a lot of mistakes I have to atone for."

Is it likely that John McCain, stung bitterly from his loss in 2000, and his chief political strategist, who had already been forced out of the party, discussed going the 3rd party route in 2001? I think so. In fact, knowing both of these men, I think it more likely than not.

In fact, I continue to hear rumblings that McCain is actively considering a 3rd party bid in this election should it become apparent that he will not win the nomination. Ironically, one of McCain's chief "lieutenants" in the Senate, Chuck Hagel, is crowding him out on this decision now.

I hope this helps add a little additional context to what has been posted so far about the McCain/Daschle claims. Most of this is inside baseball junk and personal recollection, but I think it adds a little more substance to the story.

So, take it for what it's worth. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by: Jack M. at 08:36 AM | Comments (16)
Post contains 649 words, total size 4 kb.

1 Interesting. Its good to have JackM around for this insight...

He better not run 3rd party...

Posted by: Sinistar at March 29, 2007 09:19 AM (bSYRF)

2 To the victors go the spoils.

If true, this is pure assholery on Rove's part. And, it's pretty sad that people went along with it.

Posted by: Red at March 29, 2007 09:21 AM (pPek3)

3 True Red, that's real shitty of him, and the people who fell in line. The way of the Sith is brutal.

Posted by: Sinistar at March 29, 2007 09:29 AM (bSYRF)


this is pure assholery on Rove's part.

Busted business partnerships can be more poisonous than any busted marriage. Having gone through a couple of dysfunctional small business meltdowns, I don't fault Rove for knee-capping his former partner.

Posted by: Cuffy Meigs at March 29, 2007 09:31 AM (JefgB)

5 Yet another reason we need Fred.

Posted by: someone at March 29, 2007 09:34 AM (I/t4f)

6 Yep, that was a stupid thing for Rove to do, and it does explain the continued animosity between the Maverick™ and the White House.

But I think we've forgotten just how extraordinarily bitter the 2000 campaign between Bush and McCain was.  Bush gets all the bad rap for playing dirty, but let's just say McCain had some hand cleaning to do afterwards.

Posted by: Slublog at March 29, 2007 09:36 AM (R8+nJ)

7 I can't say I blame Rove for doing what he did to Weaver. It seems to be in fashion for the Right to bash on Rove now (not that I'm saying you're bashing him Jack M.) but people seem to forget that it was his strategy that carried us to electoral victory in 3 successive elections against all odds. It probably would have been a difficult feat with a rival undercutting your every move.

Posted by: Shivv at March 29, 2007 09:57 AM (gvBaw)

8 I don't mean to be bashing on Rove at all, Shivv. I'm sorry if I gave you that impression. I was trying to relay a version of events (as I understand them to have occurred) as neutrally as possible.

Posted by: Jack M. at March 29, 2007 10:07 AM (gfp19)


McCain is a Naval Academy Grad...  Until proven otherwise, I value his honor over Daschle...

That said, it could just be a misinterpretation of words... Suppose John McCain said "Geez, with the support I got from the Republicans during the primaries, I'd be better of being a Democrat"...  That doesn't necessarily mean a real offer of changing parties just a frustration that could of been misinterpreted.

Posted by: JFH at March 29, 2007 10:33 AM (c+Pwv)

10 Senator McCain's antics have made it so that I'm willing to believe just about anything people say about him, despite his personal disclaimers. I don't guess I'm alone in this, either. It's not like Senator McCain has been far from the Democrats anyway.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at March 29, 2007 10:40 AM (wmgz8)

11 This brings up a larger point, though.

Under what absurd conception of legislative government does the number of Congressmen professing a particular political viewpoint have anything to do with anything before the vote is called?

The system of committee chairmanships going to the majority party (actually, the committe system in general) is poisonous—not least because it lends itself to this sort of gamesmanship.

Posted by: Mastiff at March 29, 2007 10:48 AM (TUuB+)


Excerpt from a 2002 Jonathan Chait article in which he was trying to make the case for Democrats to embrace McCain:

The degree to which McCain has abandoned contemporary conservatism is reflected in the legislative program he has championed since Bush took office. Most notably, of course, he shepherded campaign finance reform--an effort that put him in close cooperation with Democrats in Congress. McCain also collaborated with liberal Democrats John Edwards and Ted Kennedy on a patients' bill of rights; with Charles Schumer on more widespread sale of generic prescription drugs; with Ernest Hollings to put federal employees in charge of airport security--all of which set him against fierce business lobbying. And he teamed up with Evan Bayh to promote AmeriCorps, an effort Bush later co-opted with his own smaller AmeriCorps boost.

But perhaps most amazing has been McCain's willingness to take stands even many Democrats are afraid of. He voted against Bush's tax cut, the centerpiece of the new president's agenda. Along with John Kerry, he sponsored legislation to raise automobile emissions standards, and he paired with Joe Lieberman to try to force Bush to reduce greenhouse gases in compliance with the Kyoto accord. Also with Lieberman, McCain has proposed forcing people who buy firearms at gun shows to undergo background checks--closing the "gun-show loophole"--even as most Democrats shy away from any form of gun control. He has infuriated the gambling industry by proposing to ban wagering on college sports. And along with Carl Levin, he has co-sponsored a bill to force companies that deduct executive stock options from their taxes to disclose the cost on their financial statements--another effort few Democrats have been willing to join.

Posted by: roc ingersol at March 29, 2007 11:38 AM (m2CN7)

13 McCain is one of my top two guys, but I'm this close to believing this story and then he's dead to me.  Its all too plausible, but so far its just Democrats.

Posted by: Emperor of Icecream at March 29, 2007 11:49 AM (w4Bx4)

14 In my opinion it should be unlawful for a congressman to change political parties while in office. At the end of your term, feel free. But not while you serve.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at March 29, 2007 02:10 PM (wmgz8)

15 I think it should be okay, under one condition - that any person or party who contributed to your campaign be guaranteed a full, unconditional refund of their donations.

Posted by: Slublog at March 29, 2007 03:15 PM (6WBr3)

16 I agree with Christopher.  It is fraudulent, at least ethically, to take money and run under one party and then change your affiliation after the election.  Many people donate and vote based keeping their party in power.  Giuliani would have a hard time getting votes from the conservative base if he were a Democrat.  The only thing that has him at the top of the polls, in my opinion, are his fiscal beliefs and his desire to take the war to the terrorists.  His leftist social views will be his big roadblock and he'll have to make some concessions much the same way Bush did over Harriet Miers.  If he wants conservative votes, he'll have to promise to protect the 2nd ammendment and change his views on abortion (at least publicly).  I seem to remember that Bush had more liberal views on abortion before 2000 but I could be wrong.

Posted by: slug at March 29, 2007 04:57 PM (uQr/C)

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