I Get Emails: The McCain Meltdown, Part 2
I got an email yesterday about my, A Double Edged Warning For The Conservative Media About John McCain, post.
Here it is,
I have to ask, what do you think of the current level of discourse in our party?
I just tried to read through to comments section on your post about McCain but it was nothing but pure bile. I thought that your article was pretty reasonable but you would have thought that you had advocated Michael Moore for Secretary of State. One guy in there even told you to FO for daring to suggest that McCain is anything other than the anti-Christ. Anyone who dares to say anything positive about McCain is a liberal and/a liar. The rhetoric is becoming increasingly shrill and alarmist. And then there is the whole concept that if Clinton or Obama wins because the conservatives stayed home, then it is the fault of the Republicans who dared nominate someone the conservatives didn’t like. I always assumed that kind of elitism was the exclusive purview of the far left. I stand corrected and I find that disturbing. This seems to be a pervasive mindset on the right side of the blogosphere. Earlier today I was over at RCP and was reading the comments on article by Robert Novak that basically said the same thing as your article and it was the same thing. One poster even called Novak a “Democrat shilling for McCain”. Does that sound rational? There are already all sorts of “clever” plays on McCain’s name, not unlike the whole ChimpyMcBushHitler nonsense. A number people, including some prominent bloggers and pundits, have said that a McCain nomination would be the death of conservatism or the end of the Republican party. I even read one who said that a McCain presidency would cause the decline and fall of the republic. I was not aware that either the Republican party or our republic was so weak that one moderate Republican (Scoop Jackson Democrat, pick your label) could destroy it. Any day now I expect to see threads on the right side of the blogosphere entitled “What country will you move to if McCain becomes president?” I understand that McCain is a long way from the ideal candidate but I will have to deploy to war under the next president, amnesty is a little lower on my list of important things than Iraq. The Democratic frontrunners are falling all over themselves to have the fastest plan to get us out of Iraq. If that happens everything we have accomplished there will fall apart and the sacrifice of all my fallen brothers and sisters in arms will have been for nothing. The thought that may happen because John McCain is not conservative enough sickens me.
Brett W, Fort Bragg, NC
BTW I think that it is worth noting that I have yet to hear a McCain supporter threatening to stay home on election day if another candidate is nominate.
First of all, you have to understand the situation in Toto.
A lot of Conservatives have been generally unhappy with the Republican Party since at least late 2003. It was just starting to get ugly back then, but then the Democrats chose John Kerry, and conservatives pulled together to beat him in the election.
Then, after Bush was elected in 2004, Republicans had a majority in the House, 55 Republican senators, and a President who was in office for 4 years. Yet, all that happened was that conservatives were served up one bitter disappointment after another. The budget was out of control, Iraq was slowly starting to go sour, then there was the Dubai Port deal, the Gang-of-14, Katrina wrecking New Orleans, and Harriet Miers. Conservatives became angrier and angrier not only because of the political incompetence they were seeing, but because the GOP didn’t seem to be making any sort of effort to stand up for conservative principles.
Then, the GOP got whomped in 2006 and conservatives thought, with a lot of justification, that it was because the party didn’t stick up for conservative principles. Since then, Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration have improved their performance in a lot of ways (particularly in the House), but they’ve done a poor job of communicating that to conservatives. Moreover, the colossal arrogance of the Bush White House and Republicans in the Senate on the illegal immigration issue made things worse. Here we had an issue that was enormously important to conservatives and you had a Republican President and Republican senators leading the fight against the Right and worse yet, insulting them in the process.
That brings us to John McCain, who could fairly be called the biggest Republican enemy the conservative movement has had since 2000. This is a guy who has, time and time again, acted as if he’s trying to take revenge against conservatives for not supporting him in 2000 and now, he may end up as the nominee? That’s why you’re seeing “pure bile” and “increasingly shrill and alarmist” rhetoric from conservatives relating to John McCain.
However, in all fairness, it must be said that you would see a very similar reaction if Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee won the nomination. That’s because Giuliani is even less conservative than McCain and Huckabee, who I do think is a conservative, has been demonized so badly that a lot of people actually like him even less than McCain. Now, Mitt Romney wouldn’t cause this reaction, but he’s an untrustable flip-flopper, who doesn’t inspire a lot of passion in conservatives and would almost certainly lose a general election. So, honestly, I can’t say that he would be a preferable option to the other candidates.
My expectation is that if McCain, or for that matter, Huckabee or Giuliani wins, you’ll probably have a month or two of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then, most conservatives will grit their teeth and unenthusiastically fall in line and support the nominee.
However, make no mistake about it: if John McCain is the nominee, millions of conservatives will stay home rather than vote for him, conservatives will be generally unenthusiastic in 2008, and the Republican Party as a whole will suffer considerably for having a presidential nominee who is so unappealing to a large portion of the base. Whether McCain could go on to win under those circumstances is hard to say, but I would suggest praying for Hillary Clinton to emerge as the Democratic nominee because Democrats don’t like her and conservatives despise her even more than they do McCain. If it turns into a McCain vs. Obama showdown, it could get really bad, because McCain may be a much better candidate on paper, but Republicans will be generally despondent over their nominee while Democrats will be energetic and enthusiastic.