Did McCain Vote For Bush In 2000?

Did John McCain cast his vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Arianna Huffington, a cast of actors, and a few unnamed folks say that he told them no. McCain, twice in the past two days, says of course he did.

There is no loved lost between Huffington and McCain these days. She's said for two years that McCain has been "hijacked by the right" and subsequently "sold his soul."

"For me, why this is so sad is that I am utterly convinced that he was genuine in 2000 about reforming the country and reforming the system," she says.

In theory, both sides have motive to shade the truth, here, so those sympathetic to McCain will accept his denial, and those unsympathetic to McCain will accept the testimonies as true. Three witnesses are presently on the record against McCain; currently, only McCain is on the record in favor of himself. (You should expect more folks to attest to having heard McCain say or signal that he voted against Bush in 2000.)

There are four possibilities:

(a) Either he did not vote for Bush in 2000 and is lying; the lie being a reflection of his need to harness his political history to his present ambitions; this preserves the campaign's need to present McCain as having always been a conservative Republican who, despite a brief fluffaroo in the 2000 primaries, has always been a party loyalist.

(b) Or he did vote for Bush in 2000 but, to impress his new Hollywood friends, told them that he did not;

(c) Or Huffington and the actors are lying in order to smear McCain; the narrative here would be that McCain is and has always been a Bush conservative; or they're trying to drive a wedge between him and Republicans

(d) Or everyone misremembers;

This story will not worry the McCain campaign because it sets him up as a foil for a plot by nefarious Hollywood liberals.

Here's one way to think about the question. Ask yourself whether McCain has changed his outlook, orientation and worldview since 2000; read news coverage of what else McCain said in 2000 and who he spent his time with after the election; go through his legislative record on domestic issues in 2001 and 2002 and 2003. If the McCain you see today is the same McCain who is the sum of all those parts, then his denial is more credible.

None of this is to suggest that McCain every voted for Al Gore. Indeed, one longtime McCain observer says that McCain was not shy about telling his friends that Gore was a "phoney."