It feels repetitive to say that John McCain is not really an independent. It also feels repetitive to say that the so-called dean of the Washington press corps does not seem to know what he is talking about. Yet, McCain still remains the GOP's current best prospect for the presidency in 2008 and David Broder still remains the dean of the press corps--or at least, a prominent opinions writer--which is why I even think it worth mentioning either of them.
Broder's astute political analysis from his September 21 column in the Washington Post has already been proven wrong. In that column, he hailed "the emergence of an independent force in elections and government" in Republican senators McCain, Lindsey Graham (SC), and John Warner (VA). These senators were part of "a new movement in this country"--never mind, as I pointed out earlier, that they have shown little interest during their long service in the U.S. Congress in hatching this so-called movement earlier.
In his own defense for supporting Bush all of these years, Broder insists that his two presidential opponents, Al Gore and John Kerry possessed a "know-it-all arrogance [which] rankled Midwesterners such as myself." According to his biography, Broder was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois, and went to the University of Chicago. By his standards, I too am a Midwesterner, and I can say that myself and plenty of other Midwesterners (or pseudo-Midwesterners, since we are really from a vast Metropolitan area--though in fairness, one that was much smaller when Broder came of age) were more "rankled" by Bush's pseudo-Texan, pseudo-populist pose than by his Democratic opponents possessing intelligence and exceptional competence. For those who did support Bush, I think many can say that they misjudged the man.
Back to Broder's assessment of the three Republicans: now that McCain, Graham, and Warner are in effect supporting the Bush bill on detainee treatment, to the point where they are sanctioning the full-out denial of habeus corpus--a right defined by the U.S. Constitution--to detainees, it is clear, once again, that these men are not independents. That they look a bit more moderate than Bush is only a sign of how far to the right the Republican party has moved, but it should not influence a person like Broder's basic ability to have some perspective on their politics and see that these three senators have been loyal to Bush as he and his administration have led this country into one disaster after another. To believe that the Republican Congress or some of its particular members is capable of independence is to totally disregard the precedent they have set over the last six-years.
Edited to add: See Harold Myerson's op-ed "The 'Moderate Republican' Scam." Several Republican incumbents who find themselves in close races fit into Myerson's description. Though he sticks to Senators, representatives like Chris Shays (CT) and my district's very own Mark Kirk (IL) fit the bill here. Myerson's amusing term for these Republicans is "deathbed converts."