ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's About The Principles, Stupid

Excellent article over at the American Spectator by Jeffrey Lord regarding John McCain and conservatives' distrust of his positions. Here's a snippet:

A case in point appeared the very next day at CPAC itself. Floating around the hotel the day after Levin's latest scorching was the new issue of the National Journal, a decidedly mainstream media publication that is most assuredly not a journal of conservatism. The cover article featured a story about McCain by Kirk Victor, the Journal's longtime Senate reporter. Victor's story was titled "The Right Stuff?" Notice the question mark. In the quiet language of traditional Capitol Hill print journalism, Victor was saying almost exactly what Levin was saying in his more flamboyant, talk radio fashion. It pointedly referred to McCain's "put-up-your-dukes" demeanor, and even more troubling for McCain's relationship with conservatives, produced a chart tracking the Arizonan's conservative ranking in the Senate since his arrival in 1987.

According to Victor's story, McCain's best year as a conservative came in 1994, when he was ranked the 8th most conservative among all Senators. By 2004, he had fallen to 49th, with rankings of 45 and 46 respectively for 2005 and 2006. No ranking was available for 2007.
There is no rating for McCain in 2007 because of the number of times he didn't cast a vote during the year.
The 2004 ranking, Victor says, tied McCain with the GOP's famously liberal Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, with only two liberal Republicans further to the left, Maine's Olympia Snowe and Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee. Chafee, of course, faced a primary challenge from a conservative in 2006 and then lost to a Democrat in the fall. He has now announced that he is leaving the Republican Party.

As I asked here, if Linc Chafee were a septuagenarian POW with a great biography, would we still nominate him as our party leader? It seems that I was closer to the mark than I had realized.
Conservatives across America clearly have some sort of sense of McCain that corresponds with the essence of Victor's story, even if they have not seen it -- and with the Internet being what it is doubtless it is already everywhere. In other words, the problem for McCain is not talk radio hosts anymore than it is mainstream reporters covering the Senate. The problem is McCain's record.

HOW DOES HE MOVE FORWARD at this point? Putting a halt to surrogates attacking conservatives would surely be a start. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, no shrinking conservative violet, spoke to the CPAC audience the day after McCain. He outlined his past differences with McCain, then simply said the country was at war, related McCain's support of his UN nomination, and endorsed McCain as the best candidate to be commander-in-chief. He said not a negative word criticizing his fellow conservatives. Zero.
Asked to comment on anything she wanted to discuss, at first [the CPAC attendee] shyly demurred. After watching a friend make a comment, she changed her mind. She did indeed have something she wanted to say on camera. Looking the lens square in the eye she said this:

"Who would I trust? Rush Limbaugh or John McCain? I would say John McCain is endorsed by the New York Times. Think about that one."

The entire conservative movement is not only doing just that, they are, as I saw firsthand, thinking about the conservative future. Many of them would like to move into that future with Senator McCain. His reception, as I observed it first hand, was surely evidence of that. They respect him as a genuine American hero, and they are very, very concerned about the war. But whether they were McCain supporters or not, they made something else very plain.

One and all, they are working, working passionately, to lift the conservative movement forward to its next stage. To transform and energize it yet again, creating a 21st-century future based on conservative principles just as Ronald Reagan re-created the late 20th century based on those same principles. They will do it with John McCain -- or without him. But one way or another, they understand that all of this isn't about McCain or about talk radio.

It's about the principles, stupid.

Frankly, I think conservatives have recognized the fact that McCain is the guy who'll go up against Obama (or Hillary!TM) in the Fall. However, it's useless for his supporters to continue to jump on conservatives when they rightly point out McCain's problems with the conservative base. I've compared McCain to Terrell Owens - a media-loving hotshot who criticizes his own team; you all walk out together on to the field, but if you're an offensive lineman (ie, the base) you may not block as effectively for the guy.

McCain's CPAC speech certainly helped him with the base. However, his supporters should not take conservative support for granted just because the opponents in November are so terrible. The old phrase is that there is no "I" in "team." Unfortunately, most of McCain's recent years - since his Straight Talk Express in 2000 - have been more about his position with the media than about the GOP or conservative principles.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (1)
Monterey John said...

Sigh... Saint, it's time to get over it. We lost this round. What are you going to do, take your ball and go home? Eat worms? Hold your breath until you die?

What would Reagan do?

I think you know the answer to that one.