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Hannity Still In A Snit Over McCain’s Popularity. Is It Over Issues Or Influence?

Reported by Ellen - February 7, 2008 -

Poor Sean Hannity. Despite all his efforts against Mike Huckabee and John McCain, both did well on Super Tuesday. But Hannity’s favored candidate, Mitt Romney, is on shaky ground to continue in the race. While Hannity continues to insist his issues with McCain have to do with substantive differences on conservative policy, that just doesn’t jibe with Hannity’s past support for the far more liberal Rudy Giuliani. One can’t help but suspect that the real reason is that McCain – like Huckabee but unlike Romney – refuses to worship at the altar of right wing talk radio and its clique of pundits. Even worse, the public is rewarding Huckabee and McCain for their “heresy.” Hannity almost had a meltdown when Alan Colmes cracked a joke he didn’t like. With video.

In an interview with McCain advisor Sam Brownback on last night's (2/6/08) Hannity & Colmes, Hannity suggested ways for McCain to reach out to more conservative Republicans at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend. Hannity cited “opportunities” for McCain such as discussing his vice presidential and cabinet choices, his policies, platform, etc. “Will he go down that road?” Hannity asked. Rather than focus on ways of finding common ground, Hannity was wondering what McCain was going to do for him and his minions.

Brownback said McCain would probably not name a VP but “I do think he’s gonna put together the case as to why he’s a conservative candidate.” Brownback listed many of McCain’s conservative positions (anti-abortion, pro-guns, war on terrorism, fiscal conservatism, etc.) He further predicted McCain would “deliver a very solid speech to the conservative group and also to the country.”

But that wasn’t good enough for Hannity. In his piqued voice, he counted off on his fingers his disagreements with McCain (ANWR, “interrogations” (read: torture), tax cuts and, of course, McCain’s version of immigration reform). “We’re not talking about one or two issues,” Hannity complained. He accused McCain of having “a significant pattern of aligning himself with liberal Democrats against his conservative base.”

Translation: McCain doesn’t show enough loyalty and respect to the Hannity’s of the Party nor enough animosity to the Kennedy’s of the opposition.

Brownback agreed that some of McCain’s positions were not as conservative as desired. “And yet you’re seeing what’s taking place, that people are looking, I think, mostly at the experience and character issues right now, saying this guy is ready to lead. And I think also, Sean, they want somebody that can try to put things together, to make things work and move forward and that does cross pressure our base.”

In other words, the voters have rejected Hannity’s politics of partisanship and divisiveness. Hannity later bragged that his current choice for president, Mitt Romney, beat John McCain among those Arizona voters who call themselves conservative, 47-36%. “Headline, Los Angeles Times: McCain lost conservative vote again,” Hannity said, with a touch of triumph in his voice. “It has been the entire pattern.” But the bottom line that Hannity could not get away from, no matter how much number-crunching he did, is that the Republican primary voters have soundly rejected the two candidates Hannity promoted and embraced the two he denounced.

Hannity continued, “Now maybe (McCain’s) thinking, ‘Well, there’s no other place for conservatives to go. They’ll never vote for Hillary. They’ll have to come to me. I’m not so sure that that would be a good strategy if there’s not an outreach.” Once again, Hannity seemed to be looking for a token of homage more than a meeting of the minds on policy.

When it was Colmes’ turn he said to Brownback, “I don’t understand this thing about John McCain, according to some, not being conservative enough.” Colmes noted McCain’s rating of 82.3% by the American Conservative Union, that McCain’s support of the “Gang of 14” led to the confirmation of Justices Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court, his stance against abortion and for the war on terror.

“I don’t get it,” Colmes added. Then he quipped, “Who do you have to be, Joseph Stalin, I mean, in order to get the conservative (vote)?”

That prompted an outburst from “Democrats are undermining the troops and emboldening our enemies” Hannity (who's always dead serious when he says it). “I think you want to take that back, I’ll give you every opportunity to revise and extend your remarks here, Mr. Colmes,” Hannity said self-importantly.

To his credit, Colmes did not take it back but told Hannity it was a joke that he didn’t have to laugh at if he didn’t like it.

Hannity and Colmes reconciled later in the segment. But if the country continues to reject Hannity’s firebrand of conservatism, I expect many more tempermental outbursts. I hope Colmes has plenty of Tylenol on hand.