Sunday, February 3, 2008

John McCain's Critics: Letting the Perfect Become the Enemy of the Great

Listening to the monolithic hysteria emanating from conservative talk radio over the past few days, one would think that the Republicans were about to select Che Guevara as their nominee. The aversion that some "professional conservatives" have to John McCain, the charismatic war hero who represents the GOP's best hope of retaining the White House, transcends the bounds of logic.

McCain's talk radio critics typically rattle off a list of issues on which McCain has allegedly "abandoned" his party. I respect the fact that McCain's critics have honest, good faith differences of opinion with him on certain issues. I just wish that those leading the group diatribe against McCain would be a little more consistent.

Many of McCain's critics are the same pundits who regularly blast liberal Democrats for not comprehending the overarching importance of the fight against Islamo-fascism. That is how many of these pundits justified their willingness to seriously consider supporting Rudy Giuliani's candidacy, notwithstanding his liberal views on social issues. During Giuliani's long tenure as "national frontrunner," his perceived electability in November made many radio pundits willing to set aside their differences with Giulani on almost everything. After all, they reasoned, the War on Terror was the issue that dwarfed all others, and even a "liberal" Republican in the White House would be better than Hillary Clinton. I like Giuliani, and found the willingness of many conservative Republicans to embrace Giuliani's candidacy to be a hopeful sign that the Republican Party's "big tent" was expanding further than ever. And I believe that if Giuliani had not made serious campaign strategy errors and had maintained his frontrunner status, conservatives would have indeed rallied around him.

Well, it appears that the logic that held sway when John McCain's campaign was in the ashes has been swept away in the updraft of his Phoenix-like rise (as it has often been described) from said ashes. Most of McCain's talk radio critics will grudgingly acknowledge that McCain has by far the strongest credentials to lead the War on Terror, but balk at supporting him because of his stands on immigration (where President Bush agrees with him), campaign finance reform (where President Bush signed his legislation) and other issues. But wait a minute: Isn't the War on Terror still the issue that dwarfs all others? And why can't conservative pundits who were willing to live with Giuliani's stands on abortion, gay marriage and gun control accept McCain's independent stands on issues that, while important, are much less fundamental to social conservatives? Are these pundits really willing to risk losing Republican control of the White House in the middle of the War on Terror because they object to McCain's stands on campaign finance reform and environmental protection?

What's going on now is something out of Alice in Wonderland. McCain's critics are impugning the character and integrity of a genuine American war hero who endured five and a half years of brutal treatment as a POW. In order to stop him, they are belatedly rallying around a candidate who has had very recent and very dramatic changes of heart on many issues that social conservatives hold dear, suspiciously coinciding with his decision to seek the Presidency.

Despite all of the huffing and puffing from some quarters, McCain has excellent conservative credentials on issues that have defined the movement in the modern era. He is pro-life, he is a crusader against excessive and wasteful government spending, and has by far the best credentials of all of the candidates on national security. Notwithstanding McCain's solid conservative record, he has always demonstrated an ability to find common ground with those across the aisle. While hard-core ideologues will find this to be a weakness, most normal Americans will recognize this as a strength. Most Americans are not ideologues. They respond to candidates who have strong core values, but without an ideological rigidity that prevents them from thinking independently. McCain thinks independently. This is why independent voters, among others, respond so strongly to him. It may also be why some people are threatened by him.

Most voters have the maturity to recognize that no one candidate will be a perfect fit for them on every issue. There is the famous saying that cautions against allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. In the case of John McCain, who has inspired so many with his exceptional courage and love of country, some misguided souls are causing the perfect to become the enemy of the great.


Cathie said...

An Open Letter to the Republican National Committee:

I was a Republican for years, went to Independent and back to Republican. Two days ago I went back to being Independent and there I shall stay. My husband is a retired USMC SGTMAJ with over 30 years on active duty and 3 of those years spent in the jungles of Vietnam. Three of our sons have served - Navy, Air Force, and Marines and our grandson will depart for Parris Island in July after graduation from high school.

I know that this e-mail will probably get trashed and so be it - you will probably never even see it due to your screeners, but I'll feel better for having written it.

I do not agree with Senator McCain on all issues, but our entire large family voted for him here in NH and pray that we will be doing so in the general election. The economy, illegal immigration, and many other issues are high on my list of priorities. However, number one is the war. If we don't win, none of the other issues will matter. Therefore, some of us realize the value of putting someone in the oval office that will set the priority to being the war on terror and having the ability as Commander in Chief to lead our nation's finest. I do not want someone like Romney (who has zero experience with the military) trying to decide what my grandson should do. Oh, I'm sorry - I forgot - his sons "served" too. Massachusetts is a mere 10 miles from my house. During Romney's tenure as Governor we saw sanctuary cities, skyrocketing taxes (fees, as he likes to call them), forced socialized medicine becoming a reality (you forfeit your income tax refund if you don't buy health insurance), and gay marriages. This man has always been pro-choice (until now) and wants gays to serve openly in the military. Recently he made a comment about the middle class - you know, the people that make $200,000 a year - this is how he relates to the common man? His hometown newspapers (Boston) and two former governors have come out against him (what do they know?) Why do you think New Hampshire booed him out of here during the primary? This is a conservative? Not! (Can you spell liberal?)

Stop trying to push this phony down our throats through mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh, rather than helping your party has actually diminished it to many of us. He is an egotistical ass who considers women "airheads" and claims to be the voice of the GOP. Well, he is a biased, loudmouthed, phony too, who presumes to tell the average American that he knows what's best for them. It's no wonder he supports Romney, they are both part of the big money, "good old boys network" as is Tom Delay - another whose time has come (to get the hell out.) Limbaugh has turned his show into the golden "IHM" network (I hate McCain) and we are sick of it. Fortunately, it is having the opposite of his intended affect, so obviously there are many out here who feel as I do, men and women alike, of all ages and all income brackets.

I trust my grandson's life to Senator McCain. My grandson trusts his life to Senator McCain. He voted for the first time this year in the NH primary - for the Senator.

Will the Republican party change if McCain is elected? I hope so and then maybe many of us will return to it. It has been "the good old boy's network" for way too long. The reasons they don't want him to be their candidate are obvious. He is not now and never has been a Washington insider.

I could never belong to the Democratic party as I cannot abide its platform, however, I cannot belong to the Republican party as it now stands. Start listening to the people, stop letting people like Limbaugh speak for you, and your party's numbers will probably return to one of strength before it is too late.

Marianas Pride said...

I think Rush Limbaugh's criticism of McCain actually boosts his popularity, since mainstream America does not care for Rush. It shows McCain puts people before parties. I am confident he will be our next president.