Thursday, January 31, 2008

Swallowing the Pill

The art of statesmanship is to foresee the inevitable and to expedite its occurrence.
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Prince de Bénévent (1754-1838) (French Foreign Minister, Prime Minister).
With his victory in Florida, John McCain is on the verge of securing his nomination as the Republican Party’s candidate for President. Whatever happens, McCain and his campaign strategists have orchestrated one of the most impressive political comebacks of the modern political era.
But McCain has not sealed the deal yet. Judging from places like National Review Online the conservative movement grandees and commentariat are not having any of it, at least yet: their attitude towards McCain resembling that of children being forced to swallow some truly vile-tasting medicine - they know McCain is coming, and cannot be denied, but they are NOT, NOT happy.
By contrast, the more narrowly political Republican (as opposed to conservative) establishment of office holders and functionaries is lining up behind McCain. Besides Mayor Giuliani, Ahh-nold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California – endorsed McCain just this morning, which should be a big help in the California primary (part of Tsunami Tuesday, next week).

Romney and his supporters are about out of time – the end approaches on Tsunami Tuesday. All that is left at this point is a frantic all-points-of-the-compass attack on McCain by the conservative opinion makers, plus whatever television advertising Romney can put together. Finally, Romney must somehow prevail on Mike Huckabee to withdraw, not later than the weekend. Still, it is very late, and I expect this effort to come up short.
Assuming McCain prevails, the Question Before the House will be: what must McCain do to appease the conservatives ? Can it even be done ? In any case, McCain must reach out to conservatives, because from the moment he is the candidate, even under the most optimistic conditions, he starts five percent down with the Ron Paul people, who (whatever Paul himself does) may possibly try to do to McCain or any other Republican what Ross Perot did to Dole in 1996.
Conservatives should be receptive to peacemaking efforts by McCain. The Republicans need every single vote they can find, and the united and enthusiastic support of conservatives. But McCain dares not take too much time on it, or give up too much political capital . . .because of the terrible disadvantage Republican candidates now labor under in the eyes of independent voters.

This distaste for Republicans by independents – which leaps out of the polling data (particularly President Bush’s approval ratings) is why the Conservatives must swallow the pill of a McCain candidacy. The price of Bush's – and Republican -- unpopularity is a less conservative Republican candidate. What the Romney supporters and the others down on McCain don't seem to understand is that there is no way not to take this medicine. The Conservatives either swallow, and tolerate a less Conservative candidate than they would like, or they're going to swallow 8-12 years of probably the most liberal administration (whether it be Clinton or Obama) in America ever.
I don't like the situation either, but do we, as patriotic conservatives, really want Barack Obama appointing judges, approving budgets and commanding the troops ? Do we want the regulators he will appoint making policy decisions ? Can the nation suffer Hillary Clinton doing the same -- much less survive with dignity at least four years of "First Gentleman" (!*?) Bill Clinton ? Whatever war hero, patriot, sometimes irritating gadfly John McCain brings with him, it is not this parade of horribles.
Like it or not, a raft of mistakes, bad luck and circumstances these past several years have moved the attitude of the country somewhat leftward, and political conditions presently favor the Democrats. I would it were different, but it's not, and we have to deal with conditions as we find them. Dick Morris says it best:

If you feel confident, for some unknown reason, in a Republican victory, it is possible that either candidate could win. If you feel the nation is aching for a Democrat, as I do, then the importance of choosing the strongest candidate fades a bit.

But any rational observer has to conclude that John McCain has a better shot of winning than Mitt Romney does.

And, if a failure to win means the election of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), the stakes are too high to ignore the issue of political practicality in making a choice.

How suicidal do conservatives feel ?


louielouie said...

How suicidal do conservatives feel ?

the first paragraph of this article should answer that. the rest as we say, is history.

H said...

I just wish the pill were at least coated, or I could get some water...

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