Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Poking My Thumb in the Eye of Conservatives for Their Own Good

The commonly held belief amongst self-described Reagan footsoldiers, is that John McCain is a conservative apostate, who enjoys sticking his thumb in the eye of conservatives. Maybe he does enjoy his "maverick" reputation a little too much; maybe his 5 1/2 years as a POW knocked a few screws loose and instilled a certain "mean-spiritedness" in him. Maybe he was born this way.

But a conservative apostate?!

He may not be the conservative we like; nor the kind of conservative we can all trust, on all issues; yet, conservative he is, and the conservative we are all stuck with.

I do not get this need for conservatives to "disown" each other. Who is to say who a true conservative is? According to the Ron Paul Reverists, we are all conservative apostates and betrayers of the original intent of our Founding Fathers if we don't heed the whinings of their Constitutional Pied Piper. Then there are the self-proclaimed Reagan conservatives, who romanticize this notion that they are the caretakers of "true conservatism" and "Reaganism". Today, they criticize those conservatives who aren't sufficiently pure, be it Huckabee, Giuliani, McCain, and even Romney. By their impossible standards, Ronald Reagan would not be Reagan enough. Some of the bandwagon jumpers are the same conservatives who criticized Reagan before America's 40th president was deified. I'm also finding that rather than merely disagreeing with fellow conservatives that were rather well-respected prior to expressing support (Michael Medved) or sympathy (Victor Davis Hanson) for McCain, a lot of emotional, angry conservatives have renounced those conservatives as well.

One has to wonder-before Romney suspended his campaign and before McCain appears to have all but wrapped up the GOP nomination: How is it that at least 17 prominent, staunch conservative Senators have thrown their support to John McCain? How is it, that over 100 Admirals and generals along with Norman Schwarzkopf have endorsed the Senator from the great state of Arizona? They couldn't all be RINOs, could they? How is it that 100 individuals who served in the Reagan Administration have endorsed John McCain?
Many leaders of the Reagan Revolution – 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.
How does one reconcile with the fact that Nancy Reagan privately endorsed McCain, as well? One begins to ask oneself, "Who would Reagan endorse?" And the reality of the response should be, "No one knows." And it's dishonest for anyone to presume to speak for Reagan, and channel his vibes to validate their own personal political views.

If John McCain is not a "true" conservative then how does one explain the fact that his ACU lifetime ranking is 82.3% (for you Fredheads, Fred Thompson's lifetime average is 86%- with his support of campaign finance reform apparently knocking off anywhere from 4%-12% from his rating)? In 2006, yes it was 65%. Putting him in 47th place among Senators, for that year. But for his quarter century service in the Senate, how can people claim he has not been conservative? Maybe not the kind of conservative we wish him to be, but a conservative, nonetheless.

Trent Lott's got one of the most conservative voting records for 3 decades, at 92.4%. He has vigorously come out in defense of McCain. Is he wrong in emphatically defending McCain's conservative credentials, even as he has been in disagreement on issues with the Arizona Senator, through the years?

When Fred Thompson drew out of the race, there was some rumor as to a possible McCain endorsement. It didn't happen until after Romney suspended his campaign; yet the matter remains, Thompson, had he endorsed anyone, probably would have endorsed McCain (he was one of a handful of Senators who did support McCain in 2000). Of course that would have been too much for the Fredheads to swallow had the "one true conservative in the race" endorsed the "conservative apostate". It happened with some of the Giuliani supporters, who saw Giuliani's endorsement of McCain as a "betrayal". It happened with Duncan Hunter supporters when Hunter ended his campaign and endorsed "that other Democrat in conservative clothing", Mike Huckabee.

Recently, at CPAC, John Bolton spoke on behalf of McCain:

Revealing information that he said had never before been made public, Bolton discussed how McCain secretly tried to shepherd his nomination to the United Nations -- a nomination that was held up in Congress over Bolton's controversial anti-UN statements and policies.

"He was very active behind the scenes," said Bolton, who was ultimately sent to the UN via a presidential recess appointment. "He thought I was the type of ambassador that ought to represent the United States at the United Nations."

Addressing an audience already skeptical of McCain's presidential nomination, Bolton offered a defense of the senator.
John Bolton was much adored by the same conservatives who attack John McCain relentlessly for abandoning conservative principles.

Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa January 2, 2008.
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Working with those across the political aisle to get things done....does that make him "liberal"? Because he calls Joe Lieberman a friend....John Kerry a friend.....Hillary Clinton....does this make him "liberal"? Most of my friends are liberals. I like them. I'm loyal to them. But I am not a liberal. Contrast these Democratic Senators' ACU ratings: Joe Lieberman's ACU lifetime ranking is 16.8%, Ted Kennedy's is 2.5%, John Kerry's is 5.6%, Hillary Clinton is 9%, Barack Obama's has been stuck at 8% since 2005. And yet angry conservatives say there's not a speck of difference between Hillary and McCain? Facts are more important than raw emotionalism, here.

Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain listens to a question during a campaign rally at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, January 14, 2008.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

“He stabbed his own president in the back on legislation, a number of times. He doesn’t support his party or his president when the chips are down. He called people who want to protect the border racists, nativists, protectionists, and worse. And what kind of character is it that tries to slide all that through under cover of darkness, in a back room.”
- Rush Limbaugh, in an audioclip posted to "The Page" on

John McCain campaigned vigorously for President Bush in 2000 and in 2004.

I understand that many hardliners also want to disassociate themselves from President Bush's brand of conservatism, and avow that Bush #43 is also not a "true" conservative. Party purists who want to go this route will be the death of the conservative movement. If they actually achieved their way, they would keep the Republican Party a "small tent" party, with insufficient numbers in voters to ever win an election and make any kind of meaningful political influence.

To those who are fans of the current U.S. president but not fans of the Senator from Arizona, there really isn't a whole lot of policy difference between the two.

In a well-publicized letter to Rush Limbaugh, who has been relentless in his criticism of McCain, Bob Dole defends John McCain. Among other things, he points out how John McCain has strongly supported President Bush on every issue, over 90% of the time; and for comparative purposes, also shows how often "Mr. Conservative" stalwart Senator Helms (99% ACU lifetime rating) supported the sitting president:
“Presidential Support”



Source: CQ Press

President Bush just called John McCain a "true conservative".

John McCain may be a volatile loose cannon, but he is a conservative. More times than not, he has supported conservative agendas; perhaps not always in the manner in which we would have liked. Also, I don't dispell the fact that on some pretty high profile issues, he has let us down, when one or two votes could have made all the difference.

But I do feel that his maverick reputation has taken on a life of its own, giving rise to the McCain Derangement Syndrome that I see spreading throughout the conservative blogosphere....each reinforcing the perceptions of the others.

Ok: Let the mud, the slings, and arrows fly!!!


Cross-posted 2 days ago at Flopping Aces

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Blogger Dee said...

Nancy Reagan backing him means nothing. She has always been a ton more moderate and even liberal on some issues. Remember, her support of using embryonic stem cells? Her husband would've never ever wanted that, even if it meant helping him.

She was a good supporter for her husband, that did not mean she agreed with him on issues.

That said, it is amazing how many genuine conservatives are supporting him. I attribute it to some of them just being loyal Republicans, although I think many are doing it so they can garner favoritism with McCain in the hopes of gaining some kind of position and/or favoritism if he does become the next president.

On that score, I think Sean Hannity, Rush, Mark Levin and I and many others are being true to our principles because we don't want anything from McCain.

Sean Hannity and I grudgingly admit that we will probably eventually vote for him but that doesn't mean we are just going to shut-up and go away in the meantime.

I personally am going to find a way to contact the McCain campaign and let them know how important it is for McCain to pick a stellar VP. For some of us that is the only way to get us on board.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Also, I think you are the perfect example on how to disagree on this issue without making my blood boil.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

"Mud, slings and arrows?" How about a bouquet. Brilliant. I linked to it when you cross-posted it on Flopping Aces.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

Word, McCain is a loose cannon. The destruction of the party is going to come because of him. He is not only not a conservative, he dislikes conservatives and we all know it. McCain joined the mainstreet Republicans because he wanted to disavow himself from the conservatives that won congress in 1994 and has been nothing but a stick in the eye since then. He's and condescending and I can't think of maybe one or two people that would be worse for the party and for the country if he becomes president. Ron Paul and Obama would be worse for the country and of course Clinton is about equal to McCain when it comes to a weapon of mass corruption.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

President Bush called McCain, "a true conservative." But that's coming from a President who is somewhat conservative. So McCain is really a true somewhat conservative. Which is no worse than what we have now.

As for Ron Paul, he's not really a Republican. He's still a Libertarian with an "R" after his name. I believe I may have voted for him when he ran for President as a Libertarian back in 1988. He still espouses all the Libertarian policies, which is where his isolationist streak comes from. But don't tell that to all his Paul Bearers...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 8:06:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

As you well know, I completely agree with your post. I find it breathtakingly hypocritical of those who claim the conservative mantle to state over and over what a liberal McCain is. I'm guessing these conservatives have not always been Republican in voting. Everyone's opinion adds to the quilt of political discourse. No problem. My problem comes when I am told 'RINOS' must be purged. In my mind a RINO is the ideological conservative voting Republican. It's all about only what THEY want. Not what will push legislation forward. And the most hypocritical are the far right like Rush and Sean who went out on a limb for Romney at the 11th hour. If they were such strong supporters for anyone but McCain, they would have spoken sooner.

I could go on and on, as you also know!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 9:35:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Good point of argument on Nancy Reagan.

Her husband would've never ever wanted that, even if it meant helping him.

How would anyone ever know?

When one gets into issues on embryonic stem cell research and global warming, I think some of those barriers between conservatives and liberals breaks down, because they fall into grey areas. It depends on how one is perceiving the issue.

it is amazing how many genuine conservatives are supporting him. I attribute it to some of them just being loyal Republicans, although I think many are doing it so they can garner favoritism with McCain in the hopes of gaining some kind of position and/or favoritism if he does become the next president.

Why question the motives of his supporters, and not also the motives of his critics? What makes them right and the others wrong? Perhaps both sides have principled arguments to put forth?


Thanks for the bouquet!

Word, McCain is a loose cannon.

Yeah, but I still prefer that to a walking dud.

I just don't see him as completely bad. There are even a couple of things about him I find admirable.

President Bush called McCain, "a true conservative." But that's coming from a President who is somewhat conservative. So McCain is really a true somewhat conservative. Which is no worse than what we have now.


Did you listen to Alfred Regenery on Prager today? I found it interesting when he made a point that what we are going through with this "civil war", we've gone through for decades, now (with the exception of Reagan, I believe).


It's nice to have someone who's been seeing eye to eye with me on this issue.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

No, I didn't hear Dennis Prager. Since I've been on my trip with my mom, I forgot there are such things as talk radio and TV news. I'll have to get back into the habit again, now that I know what station they're on...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Indigo Red said...

McCain will cause the destruction of not only the Republican Party, Word, but of Conservatism itself. He will cause rending of clothing and gnashing of teeth, birds will fall from the sky, and rivers will flow uphill.

McCain will open the borders to not just Mexicans, but Canadians, too. Illegal aliens from all across the planet and throughout the galaxy will be flocking to America because McCain will unllock the gates for unfettered access.

McCain will inspire old, balding men into bad comb-overs and the wearing of pants just under the armpits. Those mavericks who will not conform will be forcibly forced.

McCain will produce nothing good, contrarian decisions will be commonplace. Up will be left, black will be the future, Republicans will be Democrats and Democrats will be girlie-men.

McCain will produce that kind of world, Word, and it frightens me as it should any sane, thinking American.

Or maybe not.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 6:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tapline said...

Word, There are some good points in your post. The most logical being vote for McCain. I do not want to vote for him because he will keep the borders open. He does not see the harm in paying for illegals. He has the money and does not worry about such a trivial matter as breaking the law. Its a law that shouldn't be used when talking about crossing the border..Heck, they paid good money to get here, we just cant send them back, we'll give Mexico another 1.4 Billion to secure their borders. That'll make it better...Just bitter!!....stay well...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 8:30:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

I think I'll just sit back from here on in. You all know my digust of Senator John McCain. He will self destruct during the campaign and will lose the general election. I'll hate every minute of having Hillary Clinton as President just as much as I would if Senator McCain had been elected but the payback for his knife in the back of the Families wanting to know the fate of their loved ones will be sweet indeed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 10:13:00 PM  

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