McCain Descending

First John McCain tells NEWSWEEK he's not a maverick (after his major campaign ad in 2008 was entitled "Maverick") and will refuse to cooperate with President Obama for the rest of the year. Now McCain is supporting the odious immigration bill that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is signing into law. This bill is a repudiation of everything McCain has stood for for 25 years. It actually legislates ethnic profiling against the 30 percent of Arizonans who are Hispanic. It allows the police to demand citizenship papers of any brown-skinned person they see and waives the need for a search warrant if police think illegals are inside a house. Of course the bill is actually terrible for police. It turns them into immigration agents who will have much less time to actually catch crooks, not to mention not leaving them any place to put the tens of thousands of illegals they round up.

In the past McCain has tamped down anti-immigrant fever. He showed great leadership in pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. But now that he has a tough primary challenge from former radio-talk-show host and blowhard congressman J. D. Hayworth, he's willing to deport all of his principles.

It may all be for naught. If McCain manages to win the primary, the Democratic nominee, likely to be Rodney Glassman, former JAG and Tucson city councilor, will get new life and energy from all the Hispanics and Anglos in Arizona who think this bill is disastrous. Glassman already has the money to be competitive in November. The bill scrambles Arizona politics in ways that are impossible to predict, but Glassman should be moved from long shot to a possible Democratic pickup. It would serve McCain right if he sold his soul and lost anyway.

It's sad that it has come to this. The culprit isn't McCain but the awful primary system we have in this country. Prop 14 in California, on the ballot in June, would replace the party primaries with a "top two" primary where the top two finishers in the first round square off in November regardless of party. This would take primaries away from extremists in both parties and help restore the center. If Arizona had that system, John McCain would never have had to repudiate everything he spent 25 years building.