National Review Endorses….John McCain?

If they were endorsing him for President I’d understand, but no Republican in the Senate has done more damage to the conservative cause in the last decade than McCain and yet, we’re still getting this from the editors at NR?

That this magazine has not always agreed with Sen. John McCain’s judgments is an understatement. For a few years at the start of the decade, not an issue went by, it seemed, without our feeling obligated to criticize the Arizona Republican. That conservatives in his state should be in the market for a senator who agrees with them more consistently is not remarkable.

But there are three considerations that militate against dumping McCain for his primary challenger, former congressman J. D. Hayworth. The first is that McCain has usually been on the conservative side of national controversies. He has never voted for a broad-based tax increase, he has voted for every conservative on the Supreme Court, and he has a long pro-life record. By itself this voting record does not compel conservative support for him: Hayworth had a conservative record, too. But it does make the case against McCain less compelling. He may not be Marco Rubio, but he’s not Arlen Specter either.

Second, when McCain is right he can have a terrific impact. McCain has a credibility on national security that few other Republicans can match. It is entirely possible that without Senator McCain we would have left Iraq in ignominy. Few legislators ever accomplish as much good as McCain did through his leadership on the surge. Conservatives should be grateful for this service and appreciative of the wisdom and fortitude that made it possible. This accomplishment, in our judgment, more than makes up for McCain’s mistakes, the impact of which has also been major (as in the cases of campaign-finance regulation and interrogation policy).

Third, Hayworth is, to say the least, not obviously a more exemplary statesman than McCain. On one of the most pressing issues of the day – the need to control federal spending – McCain has had the better record. That Hayworth appeared in infomercials to tell people how to get “free money” from the government underscores the point rather emphatically.

First off, let me just note that:  John McCain was the man who saved the surge line is nothing more than campaign propaganda and I’m surprised that National Review is touting it publicly. The truth is that the surge had wide, strong, and overwhelming support on the Right. Yes, John McCain supported it. Yes, he talked about it incessantly during the Presidential campaign. But, he was just one of the crowd on the issue, not the guy leading the crowd.

It’s also fair to say that McCain is no Arlen Specter: he’s actually considerably worse. Although McCain certainly isn’t as liberal as Specter, unlike Snarlin’ Arlen, he’s able to draw a crowd. In other words, if there’s an effective march to undercut conservatives from the Right, you can usually count on John McCain being the guy at the head of the pack.

Remember McCain-Feingold? How about the amnesty push that helped destroy the Republican:  Party in Bush’s second term? McCain’s also a supporter of Cap and Trade although, at least for the moment because Hayworth’s challenging him, he’s claiming to oppose the bill the Democrats are pushing. He opposed the Bush tax cuts. Remember the Gang-of-14 debacle McCain created? How about his attacks on the Swift Boat Vets? What about TARP? McCain had the influence to stop that. Instead he guaranteed that it would happen. At one point, McCain was even out there saying he opposed overturning Roe v. Wade — and isn’t:  he:  the same guy who talked with John Kerry about switching parties and running as his VP?

If you don’t like JD Hayworth, I understand that. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But, I will tell you this: The next time a group of Republicans in the Senate is working hand in hand with the Democrats to undermine conservatives and damage the country, you can be sure that “Senator Hayworth” would’t be the guy leading them. Can National Review say the same thing about John McCain? How incredibly disappointing…

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