Flip flops on ethanol
Today, Charlie Pierce wrote this:
Someone please show me a single act of public political courage undertaken by John McCain since he won the New Hampshire primary in 2000 that he hasn’t hedged, trimmed, or walked back completely. The Bush campaign trashed his wife and daughter, and he’s spent the years since trying to get a job as the pool boy in Crawford. He gave a brave speech about the danger of political preachers, but he’d walk on his knees across broken glass to get himself blessed by Jerry Falwell‘s direct-mail people. But yesterday might well be the purest day of opportunistic sycophancy in the history of the Straight Talk Express. First, he jumps on the idiotic controversy du jour, lining up with the usual chickenhawk suspects to trash his "good friend" and fellow veteran John Kerry. But he does so at this thing, an event in support of a man who recently threw the term "cut-and-run" at Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq. Ho-ho. Now that’s some straight-talkin’ for you. Presidential fever produces odd symptoms in people, but none of them as odd as what’s happened to McCain. His ambition has made him a coward.
But Pierce forgot something.
McCain has a long history of bashing ethanol subsidies. From a story in Fortune:
"Ethanol is a product that would not exist if Congress didn’t create an artificial market for it. No one would be willing to buy it," McCain said in November 2003. "Yet thanks to agricultural subsidies and ethanol producer subsidies, it is now a very big business – tens of billions of dollars that have enriched a handful of corporate interests – primarily one big corporation, ADM. Ethanol does nothing to reduce fuel consumption, nothing to increase our energy independence, nothing to improve air quality."
Good for him, right? It takes a brave soul to go up against Archer Daniels Midland et al. So can we cling to some shred of the McCain Maverick Myth?
"I support ethanol and I think it is a vital, a vital alternative energy source not only because of our dependency on foreign oil but its greenhouse gas reduction effects," he said in an August speech in Grinnell, Iowa, as reported by the Associated Press.
I know the mainstream punditry’s capacity for self-deception is all but limitless, but if they let McCain get away with the "independent-minded maverick" thing in the 2008 race, I’m gonna throw up.