October 5, 2006


A Farewell to Figaro (DANIEL JOHNSON, October 5, 2006, NY Sun)

When it came to Mr. McCain's own speech, it was his turn to make the Tories feel uncomfortable. For this was one of the few conservative speeches that the Conservatives have heard this week.

He began by praising Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, two ghosts from the past that Mr. Cameron would rather lay to rest. Both are associated with what Mr. McCain called "a short-list of self-evident truths: love of country; the importance of strong national defense; steadfast opposition to threats against our security and values that matches resources to ends wisely; the integrity of the rights of individuals and the values of families and local communities; the wonders of free markets; encouraging entrepreneurship and small business; low taxes; fiscal discipline; and generally, the government that governs best governs least."

The trouble is that the Tories were unwilling to trumpet any of these principles this week. Instead, they had a very different shortlist of self-evidently insincere untruths: that the right response to climate change is new carbon taxes; that tax cuts threaten "stability," and that the public does not want a smaller state or less government. Mr. Cameron has no time for President Bush, but he goes into raptures about Al Gore's campaign against global warming. He castigates Mr. Blair for supporting Israel against Hezbollah and thereby alienating the "moderate Muslim world," but his only policy proposal yesterday was to open more state-subsidized Muslim schools. A teacher friend tells me that many of her Muslim pupils, like their parents, are Holocaust-deniers — and this is at a non-Muslim school. Yet Mr. Cameron wants Muslim children to have teachers who may share their parents' prejudices.

Mr. McCain is probably as liberal a Republican as any in the Senate — but he is still much more conservative than Mr. Cameron on any issue you care to name. That gulf may reflect a deep cultural difference between Europe and America, but as the example of Mrs. Thatcher reminds us, it ain't necessarily so.

Despite his criticisms of the Pentagon, Mr. McCain was wearing a "Support Our Troops" wristband. The Tories have rightly demanded that the meager pay of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan should not be taxed so heavily. But Mr. Cameron is eager to woo the "moderate" Muslim vote. He has yet to mention the soldier who was wounded in Afghanistan and woke up in a Birmingham hospital to find a fanatic threatening him for having "killed our Muslim brothers." British military hospitals no longer exist, so wounded servicemen and women feel vulnerable at home and prefer to be treated at American facilities in Germany. This is shameful.

Mr. McCain told the Tories in no uncertain terms that "we will not be vanquished by forces that scorn the dignity of Man, and the laws and ideals that protect us." This is an uncongenial message for many Tory voters, a third of whom want us to admit defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we haven't heard a peep out of the Conservative Party leadership about threats to free speech here in the West, either.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 5, 2006 8:27 AM

Mr. McCain is probably as liberal a Republican as any in the Senate

Sneaky working that link in, Orrin. Imagine that, analyzing voting records and figuring out he's one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate...

Posted by: kevin whited at October 5, 2006 8:49 AM

Cameron seems to be operating as of now under the idea of "The enemy of my enemy..." mindset, along with getting too many briefings on U.S. politics based on news reports. So if Blair is allied with Bush and the media says McCain and the president don't like each other and the Senator is the favorite Republican of Democrats in America, invite him over for a chat without realizing what he's going to say is pretty much in line with what Bush has been saying.

This "Go against George and Tony" attitude might also explain Cameron's infatuation with Al Gore, but it's also cause for wondering if he should be allowed anywhere near sharp objects or uncapped electrical outlets, let alone No. 10 Downing Street.

Posted by: John at October 5, 2006 9:02 AM

Didn't the Tories send over someone to work on Cabana Boy's campaign?

Posted by: Sandy P at October 5, 2006 10:30 AM

Going after the Muslim vote worked wonders for Galloway (at least at the polls).

Don't think Cameron hasn't noticed---maybe that's what makes him the head of "The New Tories"....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at October 5, 2006 10:38 AM