Of the many flip-flops John McCain has performed over the past five years, the most egregious, transparently political, and incoherently defended has probably been his about-face on the Bush tax cuts. What is supremely irritating is that this is the one the political press perversely seems happiest to give him a pass on. The latest example of this myopia is a sidebar in this week's U.S. News that asks "[W]hy is John McCain so despised by his party's right flank?" and answers by citing "stubborness," "social issues," immigration, Guantanamo Bay, waterboarding, campaign finance, stem cell research, immigration, and the "Gang of 14" episode. Two words that do not appear in this extensive catalogue are "tax" and "cuts."
Memo to the nation's political reporters: Tax cuts may not be the top concern for most GOP voters, but they are the one absolute, non-negotiable issue for the elite conservative establishment. They are the primary reason it treated both secular superhawk McCain and hokey preacher Mike Huckabee as dangerous heretics, but embraced pro-choice, anti-gun serial adulterer Rudy Giuliani.
Happily, Barack Obama seems to have been paying a little more attention:
I have to say, though, that I was surprised that he took me on on
economics because he has admitted—and by the way John McCain is a great
American hero, a war hero we honor his service. But economics is not
his strong suit. I mean he said, "I don’t understand economics very
well," and after what he said, it shows, because his main economic
philosophy is to continue the same tax breaks that George Bush has been
perpetuating over the last seven years and that...John McCain
criticized as irresponsible back when he wasn’t running for President
...Somewhere along the line he traded those principles for his
party’s nomination and now he is for those tax cuts.