Saturday, January 26, 2008

Time for Some Straight Talk

"John McCain....a great American, lousy Senator, and a terrible Republican"
-Hugh Hewitt

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:
Pondering Penguin

"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

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Blogger Karen said...

You're singing my song today, Word. Looks like we had the same things on our minds through our posts.

Well done.

Saturday, January 26, 2008 9:31:00 AM  
Blogger Donald Douglas said...

That's a great post, Wordsmith. It demonstrates that one doesn't have to be a McCain supporter to see through to his good qualities.

Your comments on the right-wing echo chambers are especially insightful.

Thanks for this, and thanks for link as well.

BTW, if you haven't yet, be sure to read Karen's bang-up post on Republicans and the campaign.

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 26, 2008 9:53:00 AM  
Blogger Marty said...

This may shock you Wordsmith, but I have long respected and admired John McCain. I am glad to see you post this. I disgree with him on many things, but I consider him a straight-shooter. I also feel that we would have been much better off as a nation had he won the presidency rather than George Bush back in 2000. In fact, I was fully prepared to vote for him. I really hope he is the republican nominee in 2008.

Saturday, January 26, 2008 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

If McCain gets the nomination, although I've chosen Romney, I'll vote for him. I have no problem with that. We have to stick together!

Saturday, January 26, 2008 2:30:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Marty thinks we would have been better off with McCain in 2000?

Why not just toss it to Al Gore... You would have had the same result.

Saturday, January 26, 2008 7:57:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Nice post. I linked it.


Thanks for the heads up.


Thanks for sharing that. Hard-line conservatives would say, "That's proof McCain's not a true conservative!". But it's also evidence for electability and being able to woo voters from across the aisle.


Al Gore over John McCain in 2000? You're joking right?

Saturday, January 26, 2008 9:03:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

Rated 18% by US Border Control USBC indicating favors open borders.

Does anyone remember how frustrated we all were that nothing was being done to curb the flow of illegals into the country and how upset we all were that they were going to be given amnesty for breaking our laws and laughing in our face. It will be much worse if McCain or Clinton are elected to POTUS period

We can finish the war with one in the win column and secure our borders and deport millions that don't belong here without Clinton or McCain.

Saturday, January 26, 2008 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

I'm only half joking Wordsmith.

What's the difference between John McCain and Al Gore on global warming?

Sunday, January 27, 2008 7:50:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Is there a punchline? Or are you looking for a serious response?

I'm not a McCain apologist, so I'm not the "go-to" person on that.

But are you being honest with yourself, if you actually don't see a difference between McCain and Gore on global warming?

Sunday, January 27, 2008 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

I have noticed that you've been upset by the McCain an Huckabee bashing but let me say some things in my defense (I can't speak for others).

The primaries are the time to fight like hell to make sure you get the best candidate. And for me it isn't just a tolerance or an apathetic dislike. McCain and Huckabee stand for things that are so anti-conservative that they could crumble the Republican party in many ways.

I'm not a big fan of Romney but I wouldn't be distraught if he got the nomination but I would be if McCain or Huckabee do. I just can't explain to you how horrible it would be. And McCain isn't an 80% friend, he's like a 20% friend and 20% isn't much better than 0%.

If McCain gets the nomination I may plug my nose and vote for him but he stands for so many things that are anathema to me. And I know so many that won't be able to bring themselves to vote for him.

I know you aren't as passionate and maybe high strung (as some like myself are ;-)) but I don't understand how so many can forget his HUGE betrayals. When he came up with the gang of 14 compromise I literally felt like someone in my own family stabbed me in the back and betrayed me. We had worked so hard, I had made so many phonecalls, I had worked my TAIL off to get Bush elected so we could have conservative judges. Then in one fell swoop McCain took that all away from us by coming up with a "compromise". It was a BIG DEAL. And its not like that is the only thing. The list is soooooooo long of betrayals, bad judgment, and just lack of loyalty or consideration for conservatives or fellow Republicans.

He has acted like he could care less what we want, what is meaningful to us etc... and then all of a sudden we are supposed to turn around and cast our vote for him??????

Lets say we could somehow get over the betrayals, how do we get past the fact that he stomped on freedom of speech with McCain-Feingold? How do we get past the fact that he cares more about the rights of terrorists than our own soldiers? Who will he consult when picking Supreme Court Justices, Feingold or Ted Kennedy perhaps?????

I just can't trust the man and I will do everything in my power to keep him from getting the nomination. NOW is the time to fight for the best conservative.

I am not going to rally around someone I consider a traitor, especially not now while we still have a chance to get someone better.

If it comes down to a choice between Hillary and McCain then I'll have to go with the lesser of 2 evils but until I'm forced to make that choice I'll do whatever I can to make sure that isn't a choice I'm faced with.

Wordsmith: In no way does this change how much I adore you and respect you. This is just my passionate defense of why I have to respectfully disagree on this issue.

Sunday, January 27, 2008 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Ok, this is what I don't get: I'm not a McCain supporter!!! Why do his haters feel the need to drudge up everything I already know about? I know the arguments against him. I've been seething in it; I've been immersed in it. Hell, I even included a link to Hugh Hewitt rehashing the "Gang of 14" issue. I bet you didn't even bother to read the Michael Medved piece regarding McCain-Feingold-THOMPSON? He has a point there, but it's lost amidst all the witchhunt anger.

Sunday, January 27, 2008 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

Wordsmith, is it troubling to you that christian dominionist theocrats are gaining a foothold in the republican party? Here in Texas it seems they have taken over the party. In my opinion, they are a pretty scarey bunch.

Monday, January 28, 2008 9:40:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Yikes! Sorry for my tone dee...I didn't realize that it came across as though I were angry with you.

I just feel like my point has been lost in the post. Take a look at my comments at my FA cross-post.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 12:48:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


I'm not concerned; but it's mostly due to ignorance. I live in blue-state California, where I fight off the ACLU from being offended by tiny crosses on County Seals, and the eradication and political correcting of religious expression in the public square- specifically that of our Judeo-Christian heritage.

But maybe you can enlighten me as to what is going on in Texas (I used to live in Austin, btw), regarding Christian extremism within the Republican Party, there? I certainly don't feel comfortable around religious nuts; but I am also a secularist who loves religious expressions and traditions; especially the secularized holidays like Christmas and Easter egg hunts.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger Marty said...

My daughter and her husband live in Austin. It's the most progressive city in Texas.

A good place to start with regard to "christian dominionism" is this article:

Christian Reconstructionism

I have a dear friend that is actively involved with the republican party in our area. She is very concerned about the rise of dominionism within the party here in Texas. It might be wise to read up on it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 9:28:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks for the link. I'll read it.

My daughter and her husband live in Austin. It's the most progressive city in Texas.

Yeah, it has UT right there. A few years ago, I called up an Austin girl I used to have a high school crush on. The conversation over the phone became a bit awkward when we discovered we stood on opposite sides of the political fence. She brought up politics, I didn't.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 9:38:00 PM  
Blogger Marty said... "liberal moonbats" have a tendency to do that...

This would probably be a better place to start studying dominionism. The other one had some bad links. The article was good however.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 9:36:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I checked out the links, Marty. Only skimmed the first one, after reading the second.

It sounds a bit conspiratorial; but that's because this is the first I've read on it. I don't know what to make of it, at this point. Certainly, I do not want Christian Reconstructionists taking over my Party. I do believe that we live in a "Christian" nation with a secular government. And by "Christian" nation, I simply mean that the founding of the United States is based upon Judeo-Christian values and beliefs.

I just don't know how much of an actual threat dominionism is.

I wrote a post 2 Christmases ago, disagreeing with the notion that President Bush has been wearing his faith on his sleeve, and behaving "too religiously". I think people make too much of President Bush's faith.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

Just keep your eyes open Wordsmith and read more about it. Hopefully they won't be able to entrench themselves in the national party. This article speaks mostly of the Houston area in Texas. I don't know about nationally, but Huckabee has thrown a few "code words" out there that are recognizable to those who have studied dominionism. Another group to watch is the IRD - Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:20:00 AM  

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