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GOP Primary Fight Goes Clash Of The Titan Egos

In case anyone thought the GOP primary was all sweetness and light, allow me to introduce you to the ongoing Clash of the Titan Egos:

…For at least eight years, official Republican Washington has been dominated by what McCain advocates have called President Bush’s "Death Star" — an array of advocacy groups and lobbyists that backed Bush in 2000 and have remained the city’s conservative power brokers. Republican politicians with national ambitions genuflect to Keene at his Conservative Political Action Conference. They sign Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes and attend the weekly conservative conclaves over which he presides as the head of Americans for Tax Reform. And they curry favor with religious conservatives such as Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition.

McCain has not only declined to offer such gestures — he’s stomped on them.

Last year, he snubbed Keene and his conference, choosing to appear on David Letterman’s show instead. In a nationally televised debate in November, he dismissed Norquist’s pledge on taxes, declaring, "My record is up to the American people, not up to any other organization." He starred in advertisements on behalf of mandatory gun-trigger locks. And his investigation of felonious lobbyist Jack Abramoff in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee wound up painting Norquist and Reed as cash conduits who enabled Abramoff’s predations, charges they have said are unfair and vindictive.

On top of that, his famous temper and expletive-laden tirades against fellow Republicans have long led opponents to question his suitability for the White House. One congressional GOP leadership aide said he could accept some of McCain’s iconoclasm, but when the senator introduced legislation in 2004 to create a federal boxing commission, the aide began wondering why McCain thought he belonged in the party of small government.

"He almost seems to delight in going out of his way to stick his fingers in folks’ eyes," said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

"Here’s who John McCain has angered: self-described conservative lobbyists who basically represent special interests," Weaver said. "They’re angry at him because he has put the national interest in front of their special interests."

When Weaver says that McCain is putting the national interest first, what he really means is that McCain thinks that the national interest is in doing whatever it takes to elect John McCain. When Norquist says that McCain needs to sign his "no tax" pledge, what he really means is that McCain had better kiss up to his organization and stop trying to cut off their back-door KStreet money laundering nest feathering enterprise, or he will take his electoral chips and go home if McCain is the GOP nominee.  And the same apparently goes for all the fundraising sacred cow right-wing darlings at the Taxpayers Union, CPAC and the NRA.

Which could make the backstage pie fight between GOP candidate surrogates at the NH debate look like a slap fight among toddlers once it picks up a full head of steam.  Keep an eye on this, though — when these unsavory groups form an alliance of smackdown against McCain, I smell a back-door deal in the offing that will be good only for the crew that cuts it and for McCain’s ambitions.  I say follow the money

(Above YouTube of Grover Norquist griping about Fred Thompson and John McCain following the GOP YouTube debate.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com