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:
John Bolton was much adored by the same conservatives who attack John McCain relentlessly for abandoning conservative principles.
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.
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.
- Rush Limbaugh, in an audioclip posted to "The Page" on Time.com.
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:
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