February 8, 2008


Plotting Coordinates: McCain and Religious Right (Joe Mantone, 2/;08/08, WSJ: Washington Wire)

Many conservatives aren’t happy that Sen. John McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee, but data from a popular online tool suggests that the religious right, at least, doesn’t have much reason to worry about McCain’s views.

Called the Electoral Compass, the tool asks users whether they agree or disagree with a series of policy statements — “People should have a background check and obtain a license before they buy a gun,” for example. Based on their answers, the gauge shows where they stand on the “political landscape” and which presidential candidate comes closest to sharing their views. The political landscape is portrayed as an axis with the more economically liberal falling to the left and the more socially liberal moving to the top.

An analysis of results from the compass shows that McCain’s positions match up well with those of religious voters — a little better than Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the race on Thursday, and almost as well as former Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee. “The belief that McCain will not be able to connect with the religious right is wrong, we found,” says Andre Krouwel, a professor at the Free University in Amsterdam who helped develop the tool.

Why McCain Endures (Michael Gerson, 2/08/08, Real Clear Politics)
Early in this cycle, many elements of the Republican coalition rooted for -- and fully expected -- a decisive, ideological break from the compromised Bush years on issues such as immigration and foreign policy.

Those hopes have been disappointed.

First, tough immigration restrictions were supposed to be a unifying, conservative rallying cry -- the defining domestic commitment of the post-Bush Republican coalition. Illegal immigration was framed as a simple political issue: Since illegal immigrants are just another type of criminal, targeting them is merely a defense of the rule of law. [...]

As the primaries progressed, John McCain was forced to trim on the immigration issue. But he did not surrender his previous convictions like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee -- who used their white flags as campaign banners. The most pro-immigration Republican candidate is likely to be the Republican nominee -- not because his view on this topic prevailed, but because a strong, appealing presidential candidate does not target millions of men and women as a political strategy.

Second, some conservatives expected the Republican nominee to downplay Bush's foreign policy idealism and focus narrowly on direct American interests. Bush's democracy agenda was criticized by some traditionalists and realists as "utopian Wilsonianism" and "as un-conservative as it can be." Fred Thompson attempted to curry conservative favor in South Carolina by deriding Bush's increases in global AIDS funding as a diversion from real American needs.

But John McCain displayed the most ideological continuity with Bush's moral internationalism. McCain has argued that the "protection and promotion of the democratic ideal" is the "surest source of security and peace."

Politics is always extremely simple, until the pundits start thinking about it: John McCain and Mike Huckabee are the final choices for the GOP because they're the most similar to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 8, 2008 8:33 AM

until the pundits start thinking about it

Correction: until the pundits start talking about it

Pundits don't think, they parrot each other and call that "conventional wisdom". That's why CW is seldom right. Then they fault the polls for letting them down, and fault the voters for being too stupid to vote what's good for them.

Posted by: ic at February 8, 2008 2:35 PM

Uh, George Bush went to Yale, Harvard, and then the reserves, where he flew the F-104 (or F-106, I can't remember). After that, he flopped around, married up, flopped around some more, and righted his life before becoming governor of Texas.

Huck accomplished about 1/50th of that, and then was a failed governor of a small state, taking gratuities and gifts that would have put him in jail in most states. The comparison is inapt.

But McCain and Reagan, that's better, although RWR most certainly had a better understanding of history, economics, philosophy, and party politics than McCain will ever dream of.

Posted by: ratbert at February 8, 2008 6:24 PM

Ratbert, it was the F-102. Your point still stands, of course.

However, while McCain and Huckabee may not be in fact like Reagan and Bush, they give off a similar vibe. And vibe counts more than detailed statements on issues they don´t get to decide anyway or under changed circumstances. Voters are lazy but they are also smart that way. case in point: Huckabee rubs me the wrong way. I don´t know why and I don´t care.

Posted by: wf at February 9, 2008 2:21 AM