The New York Times' Mark Leibovich asserted that the "conventional wisdom" that Sen. John McCain would be "done in by immigration in the Republican primaries" in 2008 "Proved to Be False." But Leibovich did not mention that McCain may have avoided being "done in" by the immigration issue by reversing his position to align himself with the Republican base.
In a March 9 New York Times Week in Review piece headlined "A Scorecard on Conventional Wisdom," reporter Mark Leibovich included the "conventional wisdom" that Sen. John McCain would be "done in by immigration in the Republican primaries" in the list of "What Proved to Be False" in the 2008 presidential campaign. But Leibovich did not explain a key reason -- recently noted by the Times -- that McCain may have avoided being "done in" by the immigration issue: He reversed his position on immigration to align himself with the Republican base. Rather than account for McCain's reversal, Leibovich attributed McCain's ability to survive the immigration issue only to "immigration reced[ing] somewhat as an issue late in 2007, and Mr. McCain's chief opponent -- Mike Huckabee ... also attracting suspicion on the issue from the right."
McCain's current immigration position -- that "we've got to secure the borders first" -- is at odds with his prior position that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective. The Times itself reported on McCain's reversal on immigration in a March 3 article by reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, which stated that McCain has "meandered over the years from position to position on some topics, particularly as he has tried to court the conservatives who have long distrusted him." The article noted in particular that McCain "moved from his original position on immigration" and "went so far at a debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in January to say that if his original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, he would not vote for it."
From Leibovich's Times Week in Review piece:
What Proved to Be False
- John McCain will be done in by immigration in the Republican primaries. Mr. McCain's willingness to compromise with Senate Democrats on immigration reform infuriated many Republicans. But in the end, immigration receded somewhat as an issue late in 2007, and Mr. McCain's chief opponent -- Mike Huckabee -- was also attracting suspicion on the issue from the right.