(P)raising (Mc)Cain

All of our current political debate, when reduced to its essence, is centered on answering a single question: Is the Reagan Revolution permanent? By this time next year, after the 2010 midterm election results are in, we will know. I predict that We the People will affirm the election of 1980 as a political realignment with a resounding "yes!" And for enabling us to finally answer that question -- and for the answer itself -- one man will deserve our special thanks: John McCain.

Friends, Americans, countrymen, lend me your eyes. I write to praise John McCain, not to bury him. No, seriously.

In the same way that the deepest darkness precedes the brightest dawn, so too are the greatest victories often preceded by a great loss -- sometimes even a string of them. As I write this, young Iranians are being beaten in the streets of Tehran, but there can be no doubt that each beating serves to bring closer the day when the oppressed will triumph over their oppressors. Similarly, in politics, there can be no doubt 42 years later that Barry Goldwater's defeat in the 1964 election was the most important losing election in American history.

Or was it? The conventional wisdom is to judge the permanence of a political philosophy with opinion polls, approval ratings, and election results. The conventional wisdom is wrong. The true test of a political philosophy's permanence is its ability to withstand a concerted attack by its opponents. Today, with Republicans officially out of power and the opposition not only in power, but in power with an overwhelming majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and their coterie of Little Bismarcks are in as strong a position as they'll ever be to complete the job of turning America into a European welfare dystopia. Therefore, if, after the liberals' best efforts, conservatism is still standing, it will send us -- and them -- an important and undeniable message that moderate Democratic politicians will ignore at their political peril.

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," Joni Mitchell sang in "Big Yellow Taxi." Now, after a year of the most radical left-wing administration (aided and abetted by an equally left-wing House and Senate) in American history, the American people know very well what they had, and they overwhelmingly prefer that to what they have now. Today, we see conservatives marching on Washington. Conservatives are making their voices heard at town hall meetings, tea parties and -- soon -- at the ballot box. Indeed, in one poll, the "tea party," though not officially a party, garnered more support than the Republican Party. It tops Republicans and Democrats in another. Republican voters have been sending teabags instead of checks to party headquarters.

None of this -- none of it -- would be happening if McCain had won.

Praiseworthy item number 2: ObamaCare proponents like to brand Republicans as the "Party of No," accusing them of opposing the Democratic plan without proposing a plan of their own. Never mind that anyone with a computer and internet access can read the Republican proposals online. Of the four major proposals comprising the Republican plan, the first one, to "let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines," is, in this writer's opinion, the best. But as we praise the idea, let us also take a moment to remember who proffered it first: John McCain. Indeed, McCain's failure to make this overwhelmingly popular proposal (as high as 82% in one poll) a centerpiece of his campaign may go down as one of the most tragically missed opportunities in American political history. If nothing else, a relentless hammering of this issue by McCain could have forced Obama to respond with his own proposals before the election.

And last, but certainly not least (if you'll forgive the cliché), there is Sarah Palin. McCain really earned his maverick stripes when he overrode the advice of the "experts" to make her his VP pick. Former McCain campaign insiders openly rue the day McCain picked Palin, and apparently the only thing that delights these hacks more than condemning McCain's choice is attacking Palin herself, which they do at every opportunity with unseemly zeal. But consider the alternative. Had McCain won, then yes, Palin would today be vice president -- just like Joe Biden. We would hear from her just as often, and her every utterance would be mischaracterized as being as vacuous as Biden's utterances actually are.

But even in the best circumstances, how much of Palin's statements would represent Palin? The vice president's job is to promote the president's views, not to proffer her own. This would be no problem with, say, a President Cheney. But President McCain? Consider also that many of those who viciously but impotently attack Palin today would be White House staff, conceivably in a position to sabotage her political aspirations. And finally, if I may add a personal observation, follicle-challenged Americans such as myself would not have a champion in the White House to fight Obamacare's taxing hair transplants. But because McCain lost in 2008, Sarah Palin is her own person today, speaking her own mind with a bestselling book, extensive media coverage, and arguably greater political influence than almost anyone else in politics.

Only Sarah Palin knows whether a presidential run lies in her future, and no one can predict whether she would win and what impact she ultimately will have on history either way. But in a remarkably short time, she has established herself as a powerful new political voice -- one that speaks for, and has captured the imagination of, a large portion of the American public. She is charismatic, influential, and a major asset to the conservative cause. And John McCain alone deserves credit as the one who elevated Sarah Palin to the national stage.

Now make no mistake: None of this is meant to minimize the damage that Obama and his radical fellow travelers in the House and Senate may yet wreak upon this nation in the short -- and yet, agonizingly long -- time they wield the power with which the American electorate foolishly entrusted them. We may very well get a statist national health care plan, a staggering national debt that will literally take generations to repay, a nuclear-weaponized Iran, and the legitimization of ten million illegal immigrants. But these will all be things that were imposed on us by people who obtained office -- who could obtain office -- only by concealing their true intentions. If ObamaCare passes and future Congresses fail to repeal it, it will be because a Democratic Senate minority filibustered it -- a precise mirror image of the current situation, where a steadfast minority of GOP senators are filibustering an unpopular bill that the American people overwhelmingly oppose.

For if the 2008 election and its aftermath have proven anything, it's that liberalism as a governing political philosophy -- that is, a philosophy that the American people believe in and embrace -- is dead. One of the hands holding the hammer that pounds the last nail into liberalism's coffin will be John McCain's.

Yes, the sting of political defeat is painful, but "no pain, no gain," as the saying goes. So rail at him if you must, but in the fullness of time, John McCain's losing presidential campaign of 2008 may turn out to have been to the 21st century what Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign was to the 20th.

Thank you, John.
All of our current political debate, when reduced to its essence, is centered on answering a single question: Is the Reagan Revolution permanent? By this time next year, after the 2010 midterm election results are in, we will know. I predict that We the People will affirm the election of 1980 as a political realignment with a resounding "yes!" And for enabling us to finally answer that question -- and for the answer itself -- one man will deserve our special thanks: John McCain.

Friends, Americans, countrymen, lend me your eyes. I write to praise John McCain, not to bury him. No, seriously.

In the same way that the deepest darkness precedes the brightest dawn, so too are the greatest victories often preceded by a great loss -- sometimes even a string of them. As I write this, young Iranians are being beaten in the streets of Tehran, but there can be no doubt that each beating serves to bring closer the day when the oppressed will triumph over their oppressors. Similarly, in politics, there can be no doubt 42 years later that Barry Goldwater's defeat in the 1964 election was the most important losing election in American history.

Or was it? The conventional wisdom is to judge the permanence of a political philosophy with opinion polls, approval ratings, and election results. The conventional wisdom is wrong. The true test of a political philosophy's permanence is its ability to withstand a concerted attack by its opponents. Today, with Republicans officially out of power and the opposition not only in power, but in power with an overwhelming majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and their coterie of Little Bismarcks are in as strong a position as they'll ever be to complete the job of turning America into a European welfare dystopia. Therefore, if, after the liberals' best efforts, conservatism is still standing, it will send us -- and them -- an important and undeniable message that moderate Democratic politicians will ignore at their political peril.

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," Joni Mitchell sang in "Big Yellow Taxi." Now, after a year of the most radical left-wing administration (aided and abetted by an equally left-wing House and Senate) in American history, the American people know very well what they had, and they overwhelmingly prefer that to what they have now. Today, we see conservatives marching on Washington. Conservatives are making their voices heard at town hall meetings, tea parties and -- soon -- at the ballot box. Indeed, in one poll, the "tea party," though not officially a party, garnered more support than the Republican Party. It tops Republicans and Democrats in another. Republican voters have been sending teabags instead of checks to party headquarters.

None of this -- none of it -- would be happening if McCain had won.

Praiseworthy item number 2: ObamaCare proponents like to brand Republicans as the "Party of No," accusing them of opposing the Democratic plan without proposing a plan of their own. Never mind that anyone with a computer and internet access can read the Republican proposals online. Of the four major proposals comprising the Republican plan, the first one, to "let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines," is, in this writer's opinion, the best. But as we praise the idea, let us also take a moment to remember who proffered it first: John McCain. Indeed, McCain's failure to make this overwhelmingly popular proposal (as high as 82% in one poll) a centerpiece of his campaign may go down as one of the most tragically missed opportunities in American political history. If nothing else, a relentless hammering of this issue by McCain could have forced Obama to respond with his own proposals before the election.

And last, but certainly not least (if you'll forgive the cliché), there is Sarah Palin. McCain really earned his maverick stripes when he overrode the advice of the "experts" to make her his VP pick. Former McCain campaign insiders openly rue the day McCain picked Palin, and apparently the only thing that delights these hacks more than condemning McCain's choice is attacking Palin herself, which they do at every opportunity with unseemly zeal. But consider the alternative. Had McCain won, then yes, Palin would today be vice president -- just like Joe Biden. We would hear from her just as often, and her every utterance would be mischaracterized as being as vacuous as Biden's utterances actually are.

But even in the best circumstances, how much of Palin's statements would represent Palin? The vice president's job is to promote the president's views, not to proffer her own. This would be no problem with, say, a President Cheney. But President McCain? Consider also that many of those who viciously but impotently attack Palin today would be White House staff, conceivably in a position to sabotage her political aspirations. And finally, if I may add a personal observation, follicle-challenged Americans such as myself would not have a champion in the White House to fight Obamacare's taxing hair transplants. But because McCain lost in 2008, Sarah Palin is her own person today, speaking her own mind with a bestselling book, extensive media coverage, and arguably greater political influence than almost anyone else in politics.

Only Sarah Palin knows whether a presidential run lies in her future, and no one can predict whether she would win and what impact she ultimately will have on history either way. But in a remarkably short time, she has established herself as a powerful new political voice -- one that speaks for, and has captured the imagination of, a large portion of the American public. She is charismatic, influential, and a major asset to the conservative cause. And John McCain alone deserves credit as the one who elevated Sarah Palin to the national stage.

Now make no mistake: None of this is meant to minimize the damage that Obama and his radical fellow travelers in the House and Senate may yet wreak upon this nation in the short -- and yet, agonizingly long -- time they wield the power with which the American electorate foolishly entrusted them. We may very well get a statist national health care plan, a staggering national debt that will literally take generations to repay, a nuclear-weaponized Iran, and the legitimization of ten million illegal immigrants. But these will all be things that were imposed on us by people who obtained office -- who could obtain office -- only by concealing their true intentions. If ObamaCare passes and future Congresses fail to repeal it, it will be because a Democratic Senate minority filibustered it -- a precise mirror image of the current situation, where a steadfast minority of GOP senators are filibustering an unpopular bill that the American people overwhelmingly oppose.

For if the 2008 election and its aftermath have proven anything, it's that liberalism as a governing political philosophy -- that is, a philosophy that the American people believe in and embrace -- is dead. One of the hands holding the hammer that pounds the last nail into liberalism's coffin will be John McCain's.

Yes, the sting of political defeat is painful, but "no pain, no gain," as the saying goes. So rail at him if you must, but in the fullness of time, John McCain's losing presidential campaign of 2008 may turn out to have been to the 21st century what Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign was to the 20th.

Thank you, John.

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