Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Both the blogosphere and the MSM are awash in commentary right now about McCain’s "repositioning," prompted especially by his upcoming commencement address at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. E.J. Dionne, the canary in the liberal gas swamp, has already gone off on McCain, heretofore every liberal’s favorite Republican. John McIntyre of the indispensible thinks this is just the beginning of a ferocious liberal assault on McCain as he drives for the GOP 2008 nomination.

We should hope so. It will drive McCain to the right if the libs overreact. And this won’t be a bad thing, since he is likely to get the nomination unless he stumbles along the way (always possible).

Which sets up a story of the kind I usually don’t tell. Back in October I got seated next to McCain at a dinner honoring Sir Martin Gilbert when he was visiting Washington. I was startled at how likeable and engaging he was in person, even when I thought he was talking perfect rot. I argued with him about several of his main themes, and he gamely argued back in a genuine give-and-take manner (which means neither of us made a dent in the other, though I think I got him to pause once or twice over arguments he had never heard before). Above all his presence was undeniable; I began to understand why the press bus went nuts for the guy in 2000. He is much more impressive and captivating in person than on TV. He struck me as someone ready to be president. Conservatives are right to be wary of him, but at the very least we should be ready to throw the yellow penalty flag when the Left starts slinging mud at him.

Discussions - 34 Comments

Good blog. You know I can think of probably four or five big issues that I disagree with McCain on, but still he has my wary support as of now...

McCain is a disgrace. The "McCain-Feingold" Act limiting campaign contributions is reason enough not to vote for him.

Either McCain does not understand that the First Amendment was viewed by the States as an essential guarantee of the right to free political speech or he does not believe that political speech must be protected if the republic is to survive. Whichever it is, he is not qualified to be the president of the republic.

I disagree with McCain on his desire to raise taxes, and I abhor his assault on the 1st Amendment via CFR, but what makes me despise him is the way he punishes active-duty soldiers and puts American troops at risk to settle personal and political scores. In the former case, he has delayed promotions and honors due to Air Force officers because he doesn’t like the way the Air Force procured some airplanes. In the latter, he is dead set on sending up military personnel in obsolete and antiquated equipment because of his opposition to the way the Air Force buys aircraft. The way he puts soldiers lives at risk in service of his ego is contemptible.

Oh, and let’s not forget McCain’s eager push for Illegal Alien Amnesty.

What makes McCain so deservedly unpopular among the conservative base is not one or two individual sins (campaign finance "reform," for example) but his overall pattern of cooperating with the Democrats. Time after time they have been able to turn to him for sponsorship of major legislation. They use him -- he’s a real gift to them. And not to us.

Didn’t Karl Rove already sling a bit of mud his way last time McCain considered running for the Republican nomination? Wasn’t there some swift-boaty mention of his complicity with his captors in Vietnam?

You are all too down on McCain. After all, a good conservative often must break with the party line. Some have argued (not necessarily me) that he is "radically conservative" in a fiscally conservative way--against earmarks and pork. Hence his flawed attempt at campaign finance reform. Other issues are a mixed bag and there may be conservative arguments for some of his actions. Also don’t forget his strong stand with Bush in 2004 and his support of strong defense.

What other serious candidate do you guys all see that I don’t? If not McCain, who else? Please show me someone more conservative and electable and I’ll be glad to join.

No Fung, there was not. Perhaps you are referring to the perennial speculation that the Cong put the zap on his head, but such talk knows no political boundary.

Personally, he hasn’t shown much loyalty to anyone but himself.

I don’t understand why his cooperation with Democrats would be a negative. I’m tired of the polarization - Democrats and Republicans can have their ideological beleifs - but I want a Government that remembers that we are all Americans and works together for the betterment of our Country rather than fighting each other to score points for their base.

I’m with Clint here. McCain is no conservative dream and he has many flaws, but he is strong on defense, anti-pork and highly electable. Those are not insignificant qualities. The only other Republican that can claim anything approaching McCain’s national appeal is Rudy Giuliani… and he’s certainly no conservative either. I think prudence dictates that conservatives back the candidate that is most likely to support as many of our positions as possible while still being electable. I echo Clint’s question: who else do we have?

If the Dems have brainwashed "MeCain" on as many issues as they have, why can’t this happen on defense one of these days? Sorry to have such a dirty mind, but someone has to.

I don’t see that McCain has been "brainwashed." He’s always strayed from the conservative platform. It might be that he simply disagrees with it on some issues and not that he has been duped by the Democrats… There is no reason to think that he will suddenly go soft on defense after a 25-30 year record to the contrary.

And David, you didn’t answer the question: who do you want to see win, remembering that we ought to pick someone who has a chance of doing so?

I personally don’t see any consistency in McCain, other than wanting to curry favor with the press. What political stripe does he wear?

No one does anything but tear at McCain.

Dain, David, please show me who is better.

McCain is a mavarick, but I don’t think he is without principle. Sometimes he breaks to the right of the GOP and sometimes to the left. This makes me consider that he may be more principled and he follows principles not party line. The GOP is hardly consistently principled or conservative.

Like Dominick said, McCain could be better, but if we run Frist, Romney, Santorium, etc, WE GET HILLARY

49% of Americans under no circumstances would vote for Hillary so I would have to say you are wrong.

LincolnHawk: Do you believe that? So 49% of Americans would vote Pat Robertson over Hillary. Please be sensible and realize that "no matter what" polls and statements are ridiculous. Besides, Hillary only needs 48-50% (or 40% if its 3 party) of the vote, so she could win the Presidency even if I accepted your poll as the Gospel.

Clint, am I in danger of being nominated for President? If not, I think you owe Lincoln an apology. Next time, come up with a more realistic example.

To quote your words:

under no circumstances would vote for Hillary

Pat Robertson, Sadaam, it doesn’t matter; they all represent the idiocy of such a statement. Of course the candidate that Hillary runs against matters. When people answer to that poll, they are assuming the GOP will have a good (G.W. like) candidate. Frist, and all the other GOP wannabes are not that candidate. McCain might be.

Anyway the poll is very bogus; man to man is what matters. Any sensible poll refutes your embarassing claim. This little Fox News Poll shows Hillary beating Cheney. Also see a variety of polls here, some of which show Hillary beating Condi, Bill Frist, Jeb Bush, and George Pataki. Realism may be hard for you to handle...

"Any sensible poll refutes your embarassing claim."

I’m curious what claim you are referring to. The only claim I made was that Pat Robertson is not going to be the nominee. Do you have some proof on that point that I do not?

Actually, you are citing my counter example to your Lincolnhawk’s claim that started it.

49% of Americans under no circumstances would vote for Hillary so I would have to say you are wrong.

Pat Robertson is an obvious counterexample to this. But since you asked, I showed you other credible candidates that are losing to Hillary.

"Actually, you are citing my counter example to your Lincolnhawk’s claim that started it."

Wrong. I am not Lincoln Hawk. I made no claim of any kind, other than that your Pat Robertson response to Lincoln Hawk was specious, which it was. You should stop assuming that everyone who disagrees with you is the same person. Isn’t it possible that more than one conservative reads this website?

"MeCain" is guilty of violating conservative principles, not the party line. While the party line often coincides with conservative principles, it is MeCain’s violations of the principles that matter most.
Not only does MeCain cooperate too often with the Democrats. An equal problem is that he rarely puts any real effort into genuinely conservative causes. Far too much of his energy goes into helping the Democrats, and far too little into conservative causes. I’ll take a guy with some independence. But not a guy who, when he really plays, is usually with the wrong team.

12, 14 --

Dominick and Clint,

I’m looking at George Allen, and consider Romney to be a possibility.
Given a choice between Rudy and MeCain, I’ll take Rudy for reasons I’d be happy to elaborate. Newt would make a good president and depending on what happens with the ’08 field, I wouldn’t shut out the possibility of running him. If, against all odds, MeCain gets the nomination, we would have to support him against any Democrat. But I don’t want MeCain to get the nomination. I don’t believe in letting the Dems and the Democratic media tell us who we can win with, which amounts to letting them veto the conservative candidates.

Pat Robertson: You haven’t said anything interesting yet, except take my counterexample, which perfectly fit Lincolnhawk’s comment, out of context. Maybe you and/or Lincolnhawk could elaborate on all my other cited polls proving you wrong.

David Frisk: Nice response. I seriously question why Rudy over McCain, though. I mean Rudy is a social liberal while McCain is fairly conservative socially. To my knowledge Rudy’s only serious action was cleaning up New York by kicking butt on crime. His 9/11 myth is overated.

Allen is probably the most serious and possible option. As far as I can tell he is solidly conservative, and possibly electable. Still, a junior senator? Electability is a problem for him too, but I am open to him.

Unfortunately Romney is off the table. I like him, and he is showing suprising strength in the primary polling. However, he is from the northeast, an area he cannot win, and this location will leave him vulnerable in the south and midwest in both the primary and general. Lastly, his religion is a huge anchor for him. Mormonism is obscure, characatured, and the media can twist it as patriarchal, racist, sexist very easily since not many people have first-hand experience with this admittedly odd religion. He has no chance.

Newt, well we can dream, but I think that’s all. Scandal, infidelity, and a far right-wing image make him damaged goods. We need a "nicer" candidate to espouse his ideals...please God send someone.

Is it possible that more than one person on this blog thinks you are wrong clint. Furthermore, I never said I didn’t like McCain and Mitt Romney would crush Hillary.

Lincoln hawk: Your poll claim was supposed to prove that Frist and Romney could beat Hillary, if it meant anything. And I refuted your 49% guaranteed GOP vote by showing a "specious" example that proved it wrong, and then numerous serious ones. My point is that to win the GOP needs a good candidate. Romney and Frist are not good candidates.

I would never claim that even a majority of viewers here agree with me. I just didn’t quite believe that the real Pat Robertson was reading the blog, and his posts bear similarity to yours. My apologies if that analogy was wrong.

To tie this in to the original post, conservatives need to keep McCain in mind because our candidate will matter (contrary to your claim) and McCain is the best candidate to date. David brought up George Allen, which I hope is a possibility, but he has a lot to prove yet

Saying Saddam and Pat Robertson wouldn’t beat Hillary is hardly an example of anything. It is ridiculous that you would even mention such a thing. Secondly, Romney is not the best candidate but he is a serious one and one that would crush Hillary.

Your analogy was wrong and considering how my first post was one sentence, I am not sure how it is "similar to mine." Finally, I never said the GOP candidate wouldn’t matter, I was simply stating that Hillary is among the most unpopular candidate in the country and could be beat by a wide variety of candidates. Show me anywhere where I actually named specific candidates besides Romney.

Here is a list for you though in no particular order of candidates who would beat Hillary. 1.) McCain 2.) Romney 3.) George Allen 4.) Dr. Rice.

I am not saying I like all or any of these candidates but they have been given consideration and would all beat Hillary.

Lincoln Hawk: But if it were true that 49% of Americans would not vote for Hillary under any circumstances, it would be nearly impossible for her to beat anyone.

I have argued and produced polls to show that it is unlikely that Dr. Rice or Romney could beat Hillary. McCain could, and I hold out an optimistic hope for Allen, who is a dark horse for now. Dr. Rice would be the surest way to lose because the GOP would be throwing away the gender advantage if Hillary runs. Romney’s religion and geographic location render him nearly as helpless. Allen would lock up the south, run ok in the midwest, but could falter in a Democratic trending southwest. McCain in Arizona is perfectly positioned for the southwest battlegrounds of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. He would bring California into play too I think. His weakness, if any, would be in the Midwest perhaps in a state like Ohio, but he is nearly bulletproof. Conservative need to realize that while we have a dozen wannabe candidates, we have only a few electable ones, which narrows the field very much in McCain’s favor.



Rudy, unlike MeCain, has the great merit of having been hated by much of the left for a couple of years prior to 9/11. In addition, he has actually accomplished something of a conservative nature by making New York much safer and cleaner and making its government more citizen-oriented. Those are big things, in a big, tough environment. MeCain’s accomplishments have mostly been scored for the wrong team. I am not impressed by his socially conservative views, because to my knowledge he has done little about them. Frankly, I’d rather have a frankly pro-choice president who knew he owed his election in part to the religious right (without some support from these voters, no Republican can win) than a pro-life president who is all about working with the Democrats -- and who, you’ll remember, called the leaders of the religious right "evil" in 2000.

Thank you, Clint, for that edifying freshman-level explanation of electoral politics. Not quite as edifying as your attempts to explain away Jim Petro’s ethical problems, but close.

Well Pat if 1988 was an example of your political skill...we understand

I would’t be so sure of Hillary Clinton. She is a polarizing figure. She has a national political tin ear. She isn’t even in good favor with the Democrat base.

McCain ... he can also be polarizing, but doesn’t seem to carry as much baggage as Hillary does.

Would he be better than Hillary? Yes, but he would not be my first choice.

Rice ... I have to take her at her word, her numerous refusals to run, so putting her into the mix seems to be a pipe dream.

Regarding polls and the 2008 race. In my opinion, it is way too early to judge correctly, especially in how polling is normally done .

By the way, is this THE Pat Robertson on this thread?

Your "specious" claims were way over the top. It is over 2 1/2 years until the election. All your Foxnews poll shows is that Romney and others for that matter that haven’t started to campaign yet. McCain is a national figure and has already run for president once which explains why he does so much better than other republican candidates who are not nationally known. Once again, this is not to say who is or is not the best choice but to illustrate that you need to do a better job analyzing the articles/polls you read before you come to a conclusion.

Just because you don’t know anything about Mormonism does not make it obscure. If given the choice between a Mormon and Hillary, middle America PREDOMINATLY THE MIDWEST would rather vote for someone who believes in God and strict beliefs/values than someone who "demonizes" Christians and believes everyone is entitled to an abortion.

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