One thing that Republicans have always disliked about John McCain is that, well, he rarely acts like a Republican.
Now comes word from Arianna Huffington that McCain told her at a party in 2000 that he didn't vote for Bush:
At a dinner party in Los Angeles not long after the 2000 election, I was talking to a man and his wife, both prominent Republicans. The conversation soon turned to the new president. "I didn't vote for George Bush" the man confessed. "I didn't either," his wife added. Their names: John and Cindy McCain (Cindy told me she had cast a write-in vote for her husband).
The fact that this man was so angry at what George Bush had done to him, and at what Bush represented for their party, that he did not even vote for him in 2000 shows just how far he has fallen since then in his hunger for the presidency. By abandoning his core principles and embracing Bush -- both literally and metaphorically -- he has morphed into an older and crankier version of the man he couldn't stomach voting for in 2000.
Huffington's problem is that McCain went on to support the president on a variety of initiatives, not the least of which was the Iraq War. Ed Morrissey explains that Huffington has done McCain a huge favor:
McCain and Bush had hard feelings following the primary in 2000, so McCain’s reluctance to vote for Bush doesn’t surprise me at all. Arizona wasn’t exactly a battleground state in 2000, so McCain’s abstention hardly put the election at risk. The only takeaway from this anecdote is that McCain and Bush have two different approaches to politics, which undermines the McSame argument the DNC wants to sell this year.
And the “how much he has fallen” spin doesn’t work, either. McCain and Bush worked together on some issues and in opposition on others. McCain isn’t exactly running around the country on the Bush bandwagon. And doesn’t their rapprochement also negate the “McCain holds grudges forever” meme that Democrats pushed along as part of their focus on anger management?
McCain has denied he failed to vote for Bush in 2000. Even if it were true, it wouldn't matter much. Republicans know what they're getting with McCain and have resigned themselves to his eccentricities.