ABC's Jake Tapper took some jabs at conservative columnist Ann Coulter in a February 1 post to his Political Punch blog. Coulter, no McCain fan she, went so far as to facetiously pledge on "Hannity & Colmes" that she'd campaign for Hillary Clinton if she were the Democratic nominee and Sen. McCain her GOP opponent.
To my judgment, Tapper did land a few good hits in laying out his case for how, objectively speaking, McCain is to the right of Clinton, but he then swung a left hook in his conclusion that unfairly dismissed other conservative critics of McCain (emphasis mine):
Factually, it's a ludicrous claim. On judges, abortion, same sex marriage, taxes, health care, the war in Iraq, and on and on…he's demonstrably more conservative.
Clinton's 2006 vote ratings from liberal groups: Americans for Democratic Action - 95%; ACLU - 83%; League of Conservation Voters - 71%.
Her 2006 ratings from conservative groups: National Taxpayers Union - 17%; Americans Conservative Union - 6%; Club for Growth - 8%; Family Research Council - 0%.
McCain's liberal group ratings: ADA - 15%; ACLU - 33%; LCV - 29%.
And conservative group: NTU - 88%; ACU - 65%; CFG - 76%; FRC - 62%.
It's silliness to pretend otherwise.
But it does get at how much blind rage against McCain drives some of these conservative commentators.
I'll agree that Coulter is wrong to say McCain is less conservative than Clinton, but Tapper is wrong to dismiss the ire conservative activists in general have about McCain. It is a primary contest, after all, and conservatives are rightly worried that given its options, the GOP is set to nominate someone who has been tacking left on liberal pet issues (immigration, global warming, Guantanamo Bay, taxes) in recent years and as such is not much of a contrast to the Democrats.
What's more, far from being "blind rage," Coulter's comments could be seen as shrewdly calculating. Given her popularity among millions of column readers in Super Tuesday states, it's arguable that Coulter's tongue-in-cheek pledge to campaign for Hillary was not meant to be taken at face value but rather to shock Republicans leaning to McCain based on his campaign rhetoric to take a deeper look into his deficiencies on issues like energy independence and border security.
That Tapper equates conservative angst with "blind rage" and uses Coulter to justify that charge is just more evidence that the mainstream media don't get conservatives.