Time for Some Straight Talk
The new Rambo movie opens this weekend, and Sylvester Stallone endorsed John McCain. Perhaps Rambo and Delta Force Norris can square off in a no-holds-barred fight?
One of the things that has been bugging me of late, is the toxicity on the right. I've been guilty of participating and perpetuating it myself. But it's getting to be absolutely ridiculous. What am I talking about?
I am talking about this need amongst conservatives (especially in the blogosphere) to demonize Republicans like John McCain.
Sure, I've been angry at him at various times over the same issues that many conservatives have found fault with him on. But the level of anger is approaching a hyperbolic level of rhetoric that brims over into the realm of dishonesty and spin.
Purists love distancing themselves from Bush, Huckabee, and McCain; for not being conservative enough for them, these Party purists feel the need to disown Republican leaders who fail to remain immaculately conservative on issues, in a country where half the country is not conservative.
Sometimes, I think the anger being expressed by some, is not genuine anger, but vague resentment by those merely regurgitating the mood of the conservative 'sphere. Which leaves conservatives baffled and scratching their heads when someone they anoint as a "true conservative", like Duncan Hunter, turns around and endorses Mike Huckabee (much ridiculed as inept on foreign policy, and derided as a Democrat in sheepdog's clothing). Or how about Fred Thompson's friendship with John McCain, along with the rumors of a McCain endorsement, in the event that Fred endorse anyone at all? Would Ronald Reagan be "conservative enough" for the harsh crowd today, who populate the "angry-as-hell" fellowship of right-wingers (many claiming to be "Reaganites")? How does one rationalize away, the number of prominent military generals who have given their endorsement to McCain's candidacy (most recently, General Norman Schwarzkopf)? Are these all RINOs? Have they "sold us out"? We scratch our heads, not understanding, but I believe this is because we conservatives somewhat live in our own echo chamber, within the blogosphere. 67% support of Fred Thompson amongst bloggers gives us the impression that Fred's got "Joementum"; when in reality, it's McCain who's got the "Joementum" on his side.
As Michael Medved points out, many prominent members of the "Reagan Revolution" in the Senate leadership have come out in support of McCain:
– Jack Kemp, Senator Phil Gramm, Senator Dan Coats, General Alexander Haig, George Shultz and many more – proudly back Senator McCain. The conservative Senators who know McCain best – John Kyl, Tom Coburn, Sam Brownback, Lindsey Graham, Trent Lott – support his presidential campaign after working with him in the Senate for years and seeing his commitment to Reaganism. During the six years he served in Congress under President Reagan, McCain supported the administration as one of its most effective “foot soldiers.” Unlike many of his critics, McCain echoes the Reagan approach – not the Buchanan approach – to free trade and immigration reform.
John McCain is worthy of criticism. He's worked hard for it, and has deservedly earned it. But he is still a Republican, with a lifetime conservative rating of 83 by the American Conservative Union, for his Senate voting record (I believe Lieberman, interestingly enough, scores a 17). To paint him as being something other than a true red-blooded conservative Republican is to ignore this fact, and focus on hyperbolically ventilating the hot-button issues for which we have not forgiven him for: campaign finance reform, immigration, "the Gang of 14"...and yes, much more. The criticisms have merit; of course they do! But, angry conservatives have also muddied the issues, by over-exaggerating some of the indignation and outrage, misrepresenting the other side of the facts. These issues are not always so black-and-white as the demonizers want to make them out to be. I suppose it's easier to be angry at someone if you can demonize him, further than the actual facts will allow.
As Victor Davis Hanson reflects in regards to the "conservative ownership" of Ronald Reagan,
When a candidate today says, “Reagan would have done this or that,” he apparently has a poor memory of what Reagan — the often lonely, flesh-and-blood conservative in the 1980s — was forced to do to get elected, govern and be re-elected. While in office, he proved more often the pragmatic leader than the purist knight slaying ideological dragons on the campaign trail.I believe that similarly, right or wrong, McCain's maverick positioning, often going against the conservative grain, and rubbing us all the wrong way on a number of levels, should be understood, with respectful disagreement on substance; not just knee-jerk soapboxing demagoguery, twisting his actual position, to make it all seem worse so as to be more palatable to lay into him.
One example of the rhetoric that I have found personally distasteful, is in relation to his personal history as a war hero. I've heard him maligned by conservatives for him having been captured, and breaking under torture. That he was a failed pilot for having been shot down; and a failed POW, for not having been killed. Read the details of his POW years, and you tell me again that John McCain is not a hero. I may disagree with him over the waterboarding issue; but I absolutely respect his perspective, based upon his war experience. My disagreement is in distinguishing that there is a difference between, say, sleep deprivation, and gouging someone's eyes out with a spoon. If it's true that we have only used waterboarding twice, and used it on the worst of the worst with successful results, then I'd say "never say never" on whether or not we should ever use the tactic. Michael Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down", wrote a couple of articles that I think are two of the best cases put forth on why waterboarding should be illegal, but used under certain extraneous circumstances for the greater good. Read:
Excellent pieces, with an example of an actual instance of a German police officer who saved the life of a buried child by threatening the kidnapper with torture. Time was of the essence, because the child was suffocating.
Because of all the hoopla surrounding the waterboarding issue, we've essentially ruined that tactic in dealing with terrorist scum like Abu Zubaydah.
Sorry to sidetrack on the torture issue; I had meant to do a post on the two articles weeks ago, but got sidetracked; otherwise I could have just linked to the previous post, instead of elaborating a bit, here.
American Power is a strong McCain supporter, so anyone who wants to see "the other side" of the McCain argument, should go look at his McCain posts.
Well-worth a read, whether you agree or not: Michael Medved 6 Big Lies on John McCain
And in case you think I am shilling for John McCain, here is Hugh Hewitt Do Conservatives Still Care About the Courts?
John McCain is not my candidate of choice. But if he ends up being the nominee, we had all better rally behind him and band together against the kind of America that Democrats wish to have us living under. My biggest issue is in regards to who can keep us safe. It's the reason why a liberal such as Joe Lieberman, has crossed-over party lines, and thrown in his support of John McCain. It's not because he supports conservative causes; it's a matter of prioritizing the issues. And the current war with Islamic militants, with staying on the offense, trumps all.
I don't know how much John McCain "gets it", in regards to the overall war against Islamic terror; but he has been unwaveringly steadfast on Iraq. He stuck his political neck out on the surge, delivering a stellar speech last year. Don't ever forget that. John McCain is John McCain, and sometimes we can roll our eyes over that; and other times, he does deserve respect and admiration; and our gratitude.
Cross-posted at Flopping Aces
Noteworthy post complimenting my own:
"That person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally; NOT a 20 percent traitor."
Ronald Reagan, quoted on KCBS radio in 1972 by Reagan's gubernatorial chief of staff