February 16, 2008


Why McCain Endures: The Candidate Knows That Hopefulness Sells (Michael Gerson, February 8, 2008, Washington Post)

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 rallying cry -- the defining domestic commitment of the post-Bush Republican coalition. [...]

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 play down 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.

...to be surprised that the candidate who most resembles the Gipper and W was going to be the Republican nominee.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2008 9:54 AM
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