January 26, 2008


Enemies to the Right of Him: Charge of the anti-McCain brigade. (Stephen F. Hayes, 02/04/2008, Weekly Standard)

Like so many McCain critics, Limbaugh turned to former Senator Rick Santorum--"whose conservative credentials are beyond question"--as an expert witness. "I don't hardly agree with him on hardly any issues," Santorum said.

Really? Santorum's lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union is 88. John McCain's is 82.3. One would suppose there might be some overlap. The difference between a real conservative and a phony one apparently lies in those six points.

Although many others have been as critical of McCain, perhaps no one has been as hypocritical. In 2006, when Santorum was running for reelection, he asked McCain to come to Pennsylvania to campaign on his behalf. When McCain obliged, Santorum put the video on his campaign website, listing it first among "key events" of the year. That's gratitude, Santorum-style.

Other conservative politicians--or former politicians--have taken their anti-McCain arguments to absurd lengths. Take Tom DeLay, for instance, whose K Street pandering led to numerous indictments and contributed greatly to the Republican losses in 2006. The former House majority leader said, without a trace of irony in his voice, that John McCain "has done more to hurt the Republican party than any elected official I know of."

Mark Levin, a longtime confidant of both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity who now hosts his own increasingly popular talk show, took the anti-McCain argument a step further on his show last Wednesday. "At this point, anybody who supports John McCain and claims to be a conservative, let me be blunt: You're not a conservative."

Which came as a surprise to Jack Kemp, the ardent supply-sider who was the conservative alternative to George H.W. Bush in 1988. "That's just so preposterous," said Kemp. "I don't agree with McCain on several things. He's gotten right on the economy. He's right on foreign policy. And he's right on the war on terror."

And no doubt a surprise also to Phil Gramm (lifetime ACU rating of 95), whose presidential campaign was endorsed by National Review in 1996. And to Sam Brownback, a stalwart conservative and one of the most outspoken pro-life politicians in America today. And to Tom Coburn from Oklahoma, arguably the most conservative member of the Senate.

"John McCain and I have stood side by side on many issues," Coburn said in endorsing McCain last week. The most important, he added, are "fiscal responsibility" and the "sanctity of human life."


Posted by Orrin Judd at January 26, 2008 6:00 PM

Mark Levin is probably the only self important NRO writer who could write a "saving" the dog book all about himself, his heroics, his Potomac Mansion, and what a hassle building that was,and have it end up as an ongoing bestseller.
I've been voting longer than these multi-millionare think tank doofeses have been alive.
McCain can win the General, what more needs to be said?

Posted by: Mike at January 26, 2008 9:13 PM

McCain's not my favorite guy, but he is the best of the lot running for Pres. And the idea that he isn't a conservative is absolute nonsense.

Unless, I guess, one's litmus test for conservatism involves wanting to throw every Mexican-born man, woman, and child out of the country.

A NatlRev dominated by the likes of Levin and Derbyshire is what NR might have looked like in the beginning if Buckley hadn't tossed out the Birchers.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 27, 2008 12:45 AM

Kinda funny reading this blog, where McCain is God and Romney is Christ's supposed brother...and then heading to the NRO Corner, where the roles are reversed.

I don't know what the Democratic National Committee is paying NRO, but it's not enough. The Cornerites are trying their damnedest to get Hillary or Obama the easiest possible opponent in November.

Posted by: Casey Abell at January 27, 2008 4:06 PM