Sunday, February 03, 2008

In Defense of Senator John McCain

The conservative talk show hosts - with the exception of Bill Bennett - have been excoriating John McCain.

A summary comment might be that they can't imagine how any Ronald Regan style conservative could possibly support McCain. Let's examine some of their complaints.

Sean Hannity, sounding like a paid political consultant instead of a radio and television personality, whines that McCain should have criticized Nancy Pelosi et al for their failure to support the troops fully, as opposed to criticizing Donald Rumsfield. This complaint would be risible except that is ineffectual. Let's reflect on what transpired. General Tommy Franks and Don Rumsfield had an impressive strategy for destroying the Iraqi forces and capturing Bagdad. From that point on, however, Rumsfield's performance deteriorated. Highly regarded General Anthony Zinni told everyone that holding the ground while rebuilding would take a minimum of 300,000 troops. Rummy wasn't having any of that, and Zinni was hidden deeper in the Pentagon than plans for particle beam weapons. Larry Lindsay, Bush's economic advisor, stated that the war might cost $100 billion. He was looking for work in two weeks. Paul Bremer was installed as Iraqi Czar, and quickly revealed an ego that makes Don Trump appear modest.

So, what would Sean Hannity have a Senator with military service do? Watch an inadequate force of U.S. service members get killed and maimed and criticize the Democrats? With what purpose? The party of military hero John Kennedy and staunch military supporters like Sam Nunn and Scoop Jackson is long gone, and everyone knows it. The Democratic party has become the appeasement party. Criticizing a peace at any price party for not supporting a war doesn't accomplish anything. No, McCain did the right thing and took the problem on like a leader, speaking truth to power. In other words, he did what was right for America, even if it brought opprobrium to him from his party affiliates.

Hugh Hewitt, whom I consider the thinking conservative's talk show host, has a number of problems with McCain, including, his support for campaign spending limits under the eponymous McCain Feingold. Sorry Hugh, but nobody cares. Obama raised $34 million in January. Obviously raising money hasn't been too seriously affected by the law change.

Much has been made about McCain's support for global warming initiatives. That criticism could be leveled at most of the current (and former until the crushing 2004 election defeat) Republican members of Congress. Repubicans (certainly as opposed to Conservatives) had four years in control of all elected branches, with plenty of time to pass some meaningful energy legislation - e.g. - fast track authorization of nuclear powerplants; instead they chose to go a on a spending frenzy. Singling McCain out on that doesn't accomplish much.

Rush Limbaugh, as well as others, attacks his record on immigration. I agree that McCain, unfortunately like our President and almost every other elected official, has been wrong on that issue, so we've got one serious negative.

But here is the key for those of us who can support him without reservation: McCain was right on the war. For most of us conservatives, that carries a lot of weight. All these other issues don't carry the same importance: right on the war drawfs campaign spending reform. A commitment to stay as long as it takes crushes making a judgement error on one Supreme Court nominee. Right on the war trumps silly thinking on global warming.

We understand that different issues don't all have a value of one: survival of the republic matters forever; the rest are temporal.

That is why the conservative pundits are missing the election trend: most of us realize that all these other issues are unimportant in comparison to a potentially multi-generational war with Muslim extremists.


shua d nedy said...

Very good rundown on the whole issue of McCain's criticism of the way the Bush administration handled the war.

As for judges, I really don't see why McCain would be any less trustworthy on this issue than any other Republican president.

James said...

No matter who the Republicans nominate, it is very unlikely they will keep the White House. The only chance they have to keep it is if John McCain is the nominee, and Hillary Clinton is the democratic nominee. To win in November, it is essential that the independents and Reagan Democrats cross over. They might do that for McCain. Another essential is that Huckabee be on the ticket with McCain because he has to get those votes. McCain won't take him, though, unless he gets Huckabee to drop the talk about the "fair tax" and amending the constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages.