September 5, 2008
McCain Haters For McCainBy Randall Hoven
I think I'm fairly representative of those conservatives who just could not stand to vote for John McCain. But I now plan to vote for him this November. Let me tell you why.
My published criticisms of McCain can be read here, here, here and here. I even contemplated that a President Obama might not be so bad. I think my bona fides as a "McCain hater" are fairly well established. (Although I don't care for the word "hate" here. I didn't hate him, just voting for him.)
To some conservatives, voting is a simple matter: only one of two candidates is going to win, so pick the more conservative. By that measure, McCain easily beats Barack Obama. Just compare, say, lifetime ACU ratings. The score would be 82 to 8, McCain over Obama. No contest. But by that measure, if the Republicans had nominated Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), we should vote for her over Obama, since her ACU score is 22.
The logic of the anti-McCain crowd was not that simple. Our time horizon was not just the next four years, but the future in general. I had stated that it is better to have a Democrat President who governs like a Democrat than a Republican who governs like a Democrat. Why? Because the Democrats would get a twofer with the latter: the enactment of a Democratic agenda and the ability to fix the blame for anything bad on the Republicans.
And what would conservatives get? An agenda they despise, blame for everything bad and no political party representing them any more.
I gave the example of Richard Nixon. He did virtually everything Democrats wanted. He got us out of Vietnam -- by withdrawing in defeat. He hugged Mao Zedong, the greatest mass murderer in history, in public. He imposed wage and price controls. He gave us OSHA and the EPA. His EPA chief then outlawed DDT, letting millions around the world die defenseless against malaria. He appointed Justice Blackmun to the Supreme Court, who went on to author Roe v Wade. He increased government spending to support a growing welfare state.
And what did conservatives get for all that? A Republican President resigning in disgrace, a sweep of Democrats in Congress, oil price shocks, a recession, President Jimmy Carter, our enemies emboldened abroad and a political albatross that hangs around the necks of Republicans to this day.
In short, some of us think preserving a party that truly represents conservative values is more important for the long term than just having someone in the White House with an ACU rating somewhere north of 8.
If McCain were trying to morph the Republican Party into Democrat-Lite, I would not vote for him. He could have demonstrated that by picking a Vice President like Joe Lieberman. Nothing wrong with Joe, but he's not a Republican. He thinks life is improved through government programs. Republicans think government usually is the problem, not the solution.
But McCain did not pick Joe Lieberman or anyone like that. He picked Sarah Palin.
And that changed everything.
Sarah Palin is pro-freedom, pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax, anti-spending. And she walks the walk. Her life story is pure American -- even old-time, frontier American. We can compare experience levels in years of "public service": her 12 to Barack Obama's 11. But more importantly, Obama's experience consists mostly of missing a lot of votes so he could write a second autobiography and make speeches, while Palin's includes negotiating a gas pipeline deal with Canada and confronting Big Oil face-to-face and making it blink.
Sarah Palin also represents real reform in government. Not just reform in the sense of ethics rules, but reform in the sense of getting back to the days where elected officials were normal people recognized for their real-world leadership, not professional politicians, usually lawyers, adept at making good excuses, not good decisions. Alexis de Tocqueville would recognize her as an American: a Bible in one pocket and a newspaper in the other.
And because she is so young, John McCain showed us the future of the Republican party. It's even more choice that Palin's nemesis in Alaskan politics is Senator Ted Stevens, the oldest, whitest, pork-barrelest, and now indicted, Republican in the Senate. McCain made it clear: out with the Stevens, in with the Palins. I am down with that.
In a stroke, McCain showed us his vision of the Republican party, and it is not Democrat-Lite. And the base knew it right away. On the day he announced Palin as his VP choice, $4 million flew into his campaign from internet contributions. The previous daily high was under $1 million. What does that tell you about what the Republican base thinks of Sarah Palin?
Yet we've heard this spun by our wise media as a scheme to get Hillary Clinton's voters. We hear those same wise men advise McCain to reach to the middle and the left. Such advice is wishful thinking or self-delusion at best, or lies at worst. Five of the last seven presidential elections were won by Republicans. When Bill Clinton did win, he did it with less than a majority of the popular vote. The last Democrat to garner a majority of the popular vote for President was Jimmy Carter, who received 50.1% of the popular vote two years after Nixon resigned.
Republicans do not win by moving left. They win by being Republican: pro-freedom, pro-defense, pro-American, by being the party of small government and big ideas.
The Palin choice was not about getting Hillary's voters, although that might help nudge the margin of victory up by maybe 1% or 2%. It was about reinvigorating the base, the base that put Reagan in the White House with a 49-state victory.
This whole episode also shows me that McCain is probably smarter than I had thought. He apparently has favored Palin since February; this was not a seat-of-the-pants decision. His campaign staff was not only able to keep it a secret, it let the media drink its own bathwater in its silly who's-he-gonna-pick game. And he timed it beautifully to deny Obama a big post-convention bounce. You could almost think McCain knows what he's doing.
The surge is working. The US and Iraq are discussing troop withdrawal dates. General Petraeus is drafting a troop drawdown schedule. The latest GDP figures show healthy economic growth. Jobless claims are down three weeks straight. And John McCain picked Sarah Palin for VP.
I'm voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin this November, and I won't even have to hold my nose.