John McCain Goes From Immigration Reform Advocate To Border Cop

The latest example of the extent to which John McCain has abandoned previous positions in the face of a strong primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth can be seen in this ad, which started running in Arizona this weekend:

McCain asks, “Have we got the right plan?” referring to a “McCain/Kyl Border Security Action Plan” that flashes on the screen.

Babeu: “Plan’s perfect. You bring troops, state and local law enforcement together.”

McCain: “And complete the danged fence.”

And then this from Babeu: “It’ll work this time. Senator, you’re one of us.”

(Then McCain stares into the camera in a freeze frame for five seconds.)

As Domenico Montanaro reminds us, this is very different from the John McCain we used to know:

From a March 30, 2006 statement:

“There are over 11 million people in this country illegally. They harvest our crops, tend our gardens, work in our restaurants, care for our children, clean our homes. They came as others before them came, to grasp the lowest rung of the American ladder of opportunity, to work the jobs others won’t, and by virtue of their own industry and desire, to rise and build better lives for their families and a better America. That is our history, Mr. President. We are not a tribe. We are not an ethnic conclave. We are a nation of immigrants, and that distinction has been essential to our greatness.”

From a Jan. 3, 2004 New York Times op-ed:

“A simple crackdown aimed at sending all illegal immigrants back to where they came from would not work. It would simply drive people without proper documentation deeper into the shadows, where they would continue to be at the mercy of unscrupulous employers and would be afraid to report crimes, send their children to school or seek treatment when they had infectious diseases.”

Allahpundit sums it up best, I think:

Pandering is one thing, shameless careerist pandering is something else, and then there’s John “Goddamned Fence” McCain marching along the border in a badass Navy baseball cap looking like he could choke out a coyote with his bare hands.


I really don’t know what else there is to say. In the face of a stronger-than-expected challenge from the right from a candidate who has flirted with the birther movement and made rather bizarre comments about gay marriage, McCain has effectively abandoned any semblance of the politician he claimed to be in the past, even to the extent of denying that he had ever called himself a maverick.

It’s really rather pathetic.

Update: It actually gets worse. As a comment at Hit & Run points out, the Sheriff’s Deputy in the ad is from Pinal County, Arizona, which is some 85 miles away from the Mexican border.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Wayne says:

    I am not a big McCain fan and hope he loses his primary but at least he knows how to listen. He stated a long time ago that he understood the comprehensive immigration bill won’t pass mustard with the people because people don’t trust the government to control the borders.

    At least he didn’t pull an Obama by throwing insults at the people and misrepresenting what the people are saying.

  2. steve says:

    We supported McCain heavily in 2000. He bears no resemblance to that person. I feel like I totally misjudged him.


  3. anjin-san says:

    misrepresenting what the people are saying

    You may not have noticed, but “the people” do not speak with one voice. Lot’s of us think Obama is doing just fine. If MaCain is actually listening, there are a lot of us who are saying it is sad to see an honest to goodness American hero groveling for votes like this.

  4. Bill Jones says:

    Thanks for a great article. You know it is amazing how many faces John McCain has taken on. It will be interesting to see how he will dig himself out of the on again off again relationship that he has with the immigration issue.