Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Keeping the Florida Victory Strong: Reaching out and defending reality

The Florida win is thrilling. Just two months ago the idea that McCain would even be a viable candidate at this point seemed all too remote. Now it seems that even if he doesn't win enough on Super Tuesday to lock the nomination, he will be far ahead and very well positioned going into the rest of February. I'm very much looking forward to the being able to vote for John McCain in Virginia's primary on Feb 12th. The fact that I will even be able to do that is exciting in itself.

So it's looking good, but as McCain said in his speech last night:

This was a hard fought election, and worth fighting hard for, but I've been on the other side of such contests before, and experienced the disappointment. I offer my best wishes to Governor Romney and his supporters. You fought hard for your candidate, and the margin that separated us tonight surely isn't big enough for me to brag about or for you to despair.
. . .
My friends, in one week we will have as close to a national primary as we have ever had in this country. I intend to win it, and be the nominee of our party. And I intend to do that by making it clear what I stand for. I stand for the principles and policies that first attracted me to the Republican Party when I heard, in whispered conversations and tap codes, about the then Governor of California, who stood by me and my comrades, and who was making quite a reputation for standing by his convictions no matter the changing winds of political thought and popular culture. When I left the Navy and entered public life, I enlisted as a foot soldier in the political revolution he began. And I am as proud to be a Reagan conservative today, as I was then. I trust in the courage, good sense, resourcefulness and decency of the American people, who deserve a government that trusts in their qualities as well, and doesn't abrogate to its elf the responsibilities to do for the people what the people can and want to do for themselves.
This is exactly what the McCain campaign and those who support it need to be about right now. Although it's very tempting - and sometimes all too easy - to deliver personal attacks on Mitt Romney, it's wrong to kick a man when he's down. I believe that somewhere deep down inside that empty suit is a basically decent guy. I feel sorry for the guy - he's wasted so much money and even a good deal of his reputation in a futile pursuit of the Presidency because he just hasn't been able to see that he's just not what our nation needs right now. And meanwhile, we need to recognize that we will need Romney and his devotees come the general.

Can McCain win a general election without the support of Romney? I do tend to think so. But the more we can bring Republicans together the better. Far better to have a 55-60 percent win than another close call like we've had the past two presidential elections. Do we need the support of the Hewitts and the Limbaughs and the Malkins and Tancredos and Coulters out there? No. But we do need to convince enough of the people who have listen to them that John McCain is indeed authentically conservative enough to earn their trust. There's so many misconceptions and outright lies that the shockpundits have been putting forth - it's incredible that some pro-life Republicans have bought into the nonsense that McCain is somehow worse than Rudy or even - Hillary?!!

Though Romney does have his strong points, I think the vast majority of people have come to recognize that Romney isn't as great a presidential candidate as he was talked up to being - at least not at this stage. There are some who would vote for him merely as a vote against mostly false ideas they have about McCain or Huckabee. No we are not going to convince all of them, but we need to let the truth be known. Playing offense is a good strategy at times, but we need to play defense too - because sometimes an olive branch and a compelling defense is what's really needed.

At the NRO symposium on McCain as front-runner, Reagan-alumni Alvin Felzenberg writes:
The time is at hand for both Senator McCain and conservative leaders to come to the realization that they need each other. McCain as the presumptive nominee needs to continue stressing his conservative credentials of decades standing. He also needs to let conservative leaders know that he recognizes that some of them do not look kindly upon his nomination, that he understands their reasons, and that he is willing to work with them.
Unless you are intent on viewing graphic depictions of the advanced stages of Anti-McCain Derangement Syndrome, you'll want to skip Mona Charen and Hugh Hewitt. The rest at the NRO symposium have worthwhile contributions. From Victor Davis Hanson*:
I pray that John McCain can rally the base — since whatever anger conservatives hold toward him should pale in comparison to the specter of 16 years of the Clintons or Barack Obama’s European-style democratic socialism (with John Edwards as a possible attorney general). His acceptance speech seemed designed to do just that by references to tough judges, magnanimity shown his rivals, the evocation of conservatism, and a promise to stick to its principles, and I expect that will continue.
As a long time fan and supporter of John McCain, I expect it as well.

*update: more relevant brilliance form VDH: "Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory"

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