McCain and Babeu

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One thing to keep in mind with McCain’s reaction to Babeu is his relationship with Jim Kolbe (Giffords’s predecessor). When Kolbe came out, most of the Arizona Republicans turned away from him–some passively, some actively condemning him. The only one who came to his defense and support was McCain. I don’t remember the exact words, but he said something like, he did not stop being my friend just because he’s gay, nothing changed.

Aside from some minor legislative skirmishes this was one episode in McCain’s career that earned my admiration. Oddly, the Wiki piece on Kolbe fails to mention /any/ local reaction to his declaration back in 1996. This was never enough to make me a McCain supporter, but it was sufficient to see him as somehow different from the Bible-thumping screamers. But, in the end, you’ve gotta dance with the gal that brung ya.

So I am not surprised to see McCain coming to Babeu’s defense–and not just on the legalistic point of innocent until proven guilty. That argument may work in court, but not in politics. Don’t expect a lot of Republicans doing the same–to them he’s already guilty of something far worse than abuse of power. I’d be shocked if Babeu survives politically, even with McCain’s support. Kolbe was already well established when he came out.

It’s a nutty story all around. From what I hear, he wanted to go into politics all along and moved to Arizona from Massachusetts because his fairly conservative views did not mesh with his home state. He’d also come out as one of the victims in the pedophile priests case in Massachusetts. That, combined with his sexual orientation, likely contributed to his desire to move very far away in order to be a Republican. (Local Republicans in North Adams are not particularly gay-friendly and his identity and orientation were known locally.)

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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