Adrian Wooldridge, author of The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, and Washington Bureau Chief of the moderate left British newsmagazine The Economist. has a splendid op-ed piece in today's New York Times (for paper readers, page A33 of the national edition) showing why John McCain, despite his compulsive need to play at maverick and pick fights with conservative leaders and interest groups -- is still the most electable choice this year for conservatives.
Despite his well-publicized tiffs with the right's establishment, Senator McCain, says Mr. Wooldridge ". . .has a solid record on the defining principles of the conservative movement -- traditional values, the free market, and national defense." Are there really bigger, more important issues than those ? Moreover, Mr. Wooldridge adds, McCain "is "far more solid on these core beliefs than Mr. Romney. . ."
The record bears Mr. Wooldridge out -- Senator McCain has an 82.3 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, a big conservative lobby. Senator McCain looks like a moderate to a lot of people. He trashes a lot of big conservative icons. But how much of a moderate -- a sell-0ut, to conservatives, is McCain really ?
As Mr. Wooldridge says:
. . .there are still good reasons Mr. McCain is worth the risks his candidacy would pose. His moderate image would serve him well in a genearl election. More important, Mr. McCain is more likely than any of his rivals to offer conservatives what they want: a vigorous pursuit of the fight against terroristm, the appointment of conservative judges, retrenchment and reform of government.
Suits me down to the ground, (although possibly not "independent" fans of McCain's quirkiness). Read the whole thing.