John McCain is throwing a hissy fit because Ted Cruz had the temerity to suggest that McCain didn’t support Ronald Reagan in his 1980 campaign. “It’s an outright lie,” McCain fumed to CNN.
Cruz’s actual comments weren’t as inflammatory as —he simply said in a speech, “Do you know if you define as a Reaganite anyone who supported Ronald Reagan in the 1980 primary, do you know that the Republican Party has never once nominated a Reaganite to be president since 1984?”—but okay, McCain was (tragically) among those nominees. McCain says he “worshipped” the Gipper at the time, but was prohibited from public endorsements prior to his 1981 retirement from the Navy.
I’ll take the Arizona senator at his word, but to hyperventilate that this was an “outright lie” or willful dishonesty on Cruz’s part requires one to ignore, well, everything else about McCain’s political career.
Where Ronald Reagan was a deeply religious social conservative committed to defending preborn life and preserving true marriage, John McCain condemned Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “evil influence[s]” and “agents of intolerance,” admitted “it’s not social issues I care about,” has called for the GOP to deemphasize social issues, and worked behind the scenes to block pro-life and marriage-protecting legislation.
Where Ronald Reagan was an eloquent champion of free-market economics and limited government, John McCain’s record was, in the Club for Growth’s words, “tainted by a marked antipathy towards the free market and individual freedom” for the array of left-wing policies and regulations he’s supported over the years.
Where Ed Meese, one of Ronald Reagan’s closest friends and advisors, attests that the president wouldn’t have repeated his ill-fated amnesty bill after seeing that it didn’t work, John McCain has spent his career shilling for every amnesty bill that comes along, no matter how much worse it is than the last one.
Where Ronald Reagan famously said “the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so,” John McCain said he had “no problems with” the Democrat Party’s “views and their philosophy.”
So by any honest, objective measure, it should be more than understandable why Ted Cruz assumed McCain wasn’t a primary-election supporter of a president who held so many principles McCain despised.
P.S. McCain’s indignation at being “lied” about is more than a little laughable, coming from a man infamous for viciously lying about fellow Republicans, most recently by promoting the farcical claim that Cruz isn’t a natural-born American citizen.