Now it is all but official. John McCain has little, or nothing, between him and the Republican nomination. The rest of the primaries might be nothing more than formalities.
Mitt Romney has stepped aside, leaving Mike Huckabee angling for the Number Two spot in McCain's inexorable drive to the Republican nomination. Ron Paul, playing to part of the "crazy uncle in the attic that no one likes to talk about", is still in the race. Of course, that is merely for comic relief at this point.
Having read the speeches today of both Romney and McCain, I thought that a comparison would be in order. The two candidates show remarkably different attitudes toward Conservatives.
John McCain finds himself in terra incognita. His is one of the only campaigns that, having secured the nomination (or all but the signature on the document) he has to go back and secure his base. Ever since Richard Nixon, Republican candidates had to make more Conservative noises to gain the nomination, and then had to move "toward the center" to secure the election itself. Similarly, Democrats had to appease their most Liberal base for the nomination and move to the center in the general election. John McCain finds himself with broad support among Liberals, Democrats, moderates and Independents.
Unfortunately, the base of the Republican Party -- Conservatives, that is -- have been left cold by his penchant for "reaching across the aisle". McCain correctly notes that the Gold Standard for Conservatives, Ronald Reagan, often "reached across the aisle" to Democrats. This is supposed to allay Conservative fears, I guess. But Conservatives know that this is misrepresenting what Reagan was about.
Sure, Ronald Reagan "reached across the aisle" to the Democrats. However, he did so to bring them over to his point of view. Reagan didn't move his policies to the Left when he "reached across the aisle", he moved the Democrats to the Right. On the other hand, McCain has made a two decade career of siding with the Democrats on issue after issue.
- He explained his vote against the Bush tax cuts with Democratic rhetoric, calling them "tax cuts for the rich".
- He has sided with the Democrats over the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, urging the closure of the base and the inclusion of enemy combatants in American civilian courts and prisons, presumably giving them access to the same rights as American criminals. He would also deny our interrogators the tools they need to quickly elicit information from detainees that would prevent further terrorist attacks.
- He has sponsored the most serious breech of the First Amendment in American history, teaming up with Russ Feingold to create campaign finance "reform", which neither gets money out of politics, nor empowers anyone but the Legacy Media and the unions. Does anyone seriously believe that he would ever appoint judges to the Supreme Court who would rule against McCain-Feingold?
- Speaking of judges, McCain led the infamous "Gang of 14", that left the Senate with the ability to block any judges they disliked with a minority of dissenting votes, rather than the majority demanded by the Constitution.
- McCain-Kennedy, meanwhile, made a mockery of the rule of law, failing to secure our borders, while simulaneously creating all sorts of incentives to violate American immigration law. He claims it isn't really amnesty, but it didn't provide for any real enforcement and totally ignored border security.
- And what Conservative in his right mind would suddenly decide that Global Warmism can be averted with Cap & Trade laws that would, incidently, stifle the American economy? And yet, here we have the putative nominee of the GOP cosponsoring the economically devastating McCain-Leiberman Bill.
- McCain is claiming the Pro-Life mantle, while voting for embryonic stem cell research, and opposing a Constitutional amendment to define, once and for all, marriage as a state between a man and a woman. So why vote for Barak or Hillary, when we've got McCain?
Now, today, with the nomination all but sewn up, John McCain speaks before the Conservative Political Action Committee, or C-PAC. Suddenly, he's a Conservative. He tells this august body of Conservative thinkers and activists that he has "a responsibility, if I am, as I hope to be, the Republican nominee for President, to unite the party and prepare for the great contest in November." So, where was he for the last 25 years?
He also makes this spectacular claim: "I am proud to be a conservative, and I make that claim because I share with you that most basic of conservative principles..." Of course, in "reaching across the aisle", one should never let those "most basic of principles" get in the way!
Lest you might confuse him with being blind to his controversial nature, McCain acknowledges his "occasional" lapses from Conservative philosophy: "Surely, I have held ... positions that have not met with widespread agreement from conservatives." Looking back at the above list, one could be excused for exclaiming, "Well, DUH!" Apparently, the Senator from Arizona has been hiding a mastery of understatement.
Of the November elections, he says that, rather than debating small differences between the Parties "We are arguing about hugely consequential things." OK! But where, exactly, besides the surge in Iraq, does McCain really differ from the Democrats?
In summation, McCain says that he is the Conservative candidate because he says he is. Therefore, all us Conservatives need to get over any belief that "...I have occasionally erred in my reasoning as a fellow conservative..." and get behind him as the Republican nominee.
This is condescending at best. This is almost as insulting as Dorothy Rabinowitz calling Conservative critics of John McCain and his record "semi psychotic". As far as I'm concerned, the only thing "semi psychotic" is this inane effort to recast Conservatism as John McCain. Such an effort is Orwellian.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has shown what a class act he really is. Yes, he dropped out of the primary race. But he did so for the best of reasons: he wants to see whomever the Democratic nominee is to go down in defeat in November. Hence, although he has garnered enough support around the nation to continue, especially among Conservatives, he would step aside to prevent the sort of internecine bloodletting that would all but hand the White House over to the Democrats.
Of the need for Conservative values, he said "We face a new generation of challenges, challenges which threaten our prosperity, our security and our future."
And of failure to embrace these Conservative principles? "I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st century—still a great nation, but no longer the leader of the world, no longer the superpower."
Truer words have never been spoken! One of France's biggest problems is that it is losing its culture thanks to unrelenting Muslim immigration and an overexpansive welfare state. An Obama or Hillary administration (or McCain, for that matter) will send us ever onward down that slippery slope.
Romney warns us of the perils of electing a Liberal to the White House: "Economic neophytes would layer heavier and heavier burdens on employers and families, slowing our economy and opening the way for foreign competition to further erode our lead." Don't forget that John McCain belittled Romney's business experience saying "I did it out of patriotism, not for profit", as if there was something unpatriotic about being a businessman.
Friends, put the two speeches, both delivered to C-PAC on the same day, side by side and compare. Clearly, Mitt Romney showed himself to the true Conservative. John McCain tried to obfuscate his record in Congress, while wrapping himself in the mantle of Ronald Reagan. (A comment posted on a news article about McCain said "I don't want to see what's under that mantle!")
Romney only had to speak of his beliefs, he needed no props. McCain had to trot out all those old photos of him with Reagan.
McCain kept claiming to be the Conservative candidate.
Romney merely spoke about what that Conservative stands for.
The distinction is clear. And the Republican Party didn't get the best man.
Copyright Feb. 7th, 2008