January 18, 2008


Bizarro Goldwater?: McCain can win. (Wynton C. Hall, 1/18/08, National Review)

Consider the following: Even as Mitt Romney claimed his home state of Michigan this week, John McCain finished a competitive second in a state where 68 percent of primary voters were “mainstream Republicans” rather than the independent and moderate voters who typically form McCain’s base of support. Of the Democrats who voted in the Republican primary, 41 percent supported McCain. To some observers, McCain’s attractiveness to independents and Democrats is evidence of his weak conservative credentials. This is curious logic. Few of them would concede that Ronald Reagan’s support from “Reagan Democrats” in his 1980 and 1984 landslide victories made the Gipper less of a conservative.

In New Hampshire, as expected, McCain did well among independent voters — but he did much better than expected among mainstream Republicans. And that suggests that Republicans know instinctually what is likely true: that John McCain’s maverick pose as the GOP’s ideological eye-gouger will make him all but impervious to charges by Democrats of representing a de facto third term for the unpopular President Bush.

More than that, McCain’s war-hero status and role as legislative champion of the hugely successful “surge” in Iraq will contrast sharply with Senators Clinton and Obama’s slender and dovish foreign-policy resumes. And in presidential campaign communication, candidate “contrast” reigns supreme.

The looming question among GOP insiders is whether conservatives will begrudgingly come home to McCain. And here, too, the prospects are far from gloomy. Fiscal conservatives — like the influential Club for Growth — are more likely to have former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in their crosshairs, while McCain’s decades-long fight against wasteful spending, secretive earmarks, and expansive government redounds to his electoral favor. McCain’s track record on fiscal restraint makes him hard to tag as a big-government compassionate conservative.

A closer look at John McCain’s voting record reveals more reasons for optimism. The American Conservative Union gives McCain a lifetime rating of 83 (former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich boasts a 90 rating). And although not a “man-the-barricades” pro-lifer, McCain advocates the overturning of Roe v. Wade, calls abortion “a human tragedy,” and lived out his support for adoption when he and his second wife, Cindy, adopted their daughter Bridget, a former orphan from Bangladesh.

Pro-Life, Pro-McCain: A candidate with an unmatchable record on life issues. (Gerard V. Bradley, 1/18/08, National Review)

McCain is not the only pro-life candidate in the Republican field. There are — and were — others. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is rightly regarded as a champion of the unborn. He was no doubt the first choice of many ardent pro-life Republicans. But Brownback gave up his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago. Now he is backing McCain.

Of the remaining pro-life Republicans, none can match McCain’s record of opposing abortion. He has served in Congress for 24 years, and cast a lot of votes on abortion legislation during that time. His record is not merely exemplary — it is perfect. McCain’s votes on abortion really could not be better. A campaign advertisement in South Carolina says of John McCain: “Pro-life. Not just recently. Always. Never wavering.” The ad is true.

It is no criticism of any other pro-life candidate to say that McCain’s track record makes him the best of a small number of good choices. Mike Huckabee is a good man and solidly pro-life. I personally do not doubt the sincerity or depth of Mitt Romney’s present commitment to the unborn. But experience matters. Being battle-hardened in defense of life is a real plus. Twenty-four years of service at the national level — almost all of them in the Senate — make a big difference when we are talking about the next President, compared to candidates who have been small-state governors. There is no need to speculate or to rely upon promises or take matters on faith when it comes to McCain and abortion. He has demonstrated himself to be the best pro-life choice.

One of the most entertaining things about politics on the Internet--provided that you aren't an ideologue of either stripe--is the way the Daily Kos types and the anyone-but-McCain types think they're different from each other. From outside the bubble, fanatics of either ilk appear awfully similar.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2008 8:38 AM

Yeah, the rantings of the anti-immigration fanatics sound exactly like those of the anti-war fanatics on the left. I dunno about entertaining though, more like depressing.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 18, 2008 9:58 AM

I often muse about a world in which Barry would have been elected and the mad antics of the left would have been rejected.

Posted by: erp at January 18, 2008 12:11 PM

My fantasy is how President McKeating will react to the Senate filibustering his judicial nominees. Especially when the filibuster comes from the GOP.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 18, 2008 12:33 PM

Unfortunately, many of the ranters do not understand state party politics and how someone steady, like McCain, gets support. And until the ranters attend monthly county party meetings, go to Eisenhower and Lincoln Day dinners (or Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners) and do that often, they never will understand that 'dues-paying' does not mean cutting a check.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2008 2:25 PM

Fantasy is acurate. He got W's through--he'll get his own.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2008 3:41 PM

OJ is right on the judges - barring a forced fight from the outside. Politics is local, and that doesn't just mean the state parties, that also means the 'locals' in DC. The most successful recent presidents have had connections into state party organizations (where national party people come from) for years. Knowing people is two-thirds of the fight.

Sitting across the table with a political opponent, beer in hand, and talking lightly of politics, life, and things in general changes the whole mix, from caricature to human. And politics is a business of humans.

Posted by: Mikey at January 18, 2008 7:14 PM

The anti-McCain fanatics are right though.

Posted by: Benny at January 18, 2008 7:42 PM

Fanatics are always right.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2008 8:31 PM