Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ross on the Republican Reformation

Ross Douthat, Atlantic blogger and one of my favorite bloggingheads, wrote an Op-Ed for today's NYT (h/t Colecurtis):

. . . After being denounced as a tax-and-spender and a pro-life liberal, Mr. Huckabee won four primaries in four Republican strongholds, including Alabama and Georgia. Mr. McCain split the frequent-churchgoer vote with Mr. Romney, and eclipsed him among evangelical Christians, even though the religious-conservative poobah James Dobson has promised to sit out the November election if Mr. McCain becomes the Republican nominee.

The failure of conservative voters to fall in line behind Mr. Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, among others, reflects a deeper problem for the movement’s leadership. With their inflexibility, grudge-holding and eagerness to evict heretics rather than seek converts, too many of conservatism’s leaders sound like the custodians of a dwindling religious denomination or a politically correct English department at a fading liberal-arts college.

Or like yesterday’s Democratic Party. The tribunes of the American right have fallen into the same bad habits that doomed their liberal rivals to years of political failure.

In spite of his record as a maverick, John McCain has become the presumptive nominee by running a classic Republican campaign, emphasizing strength abroad and limited government at home, with nods to his pro-life record. His opponents in the conservative movement, by contrast, have behaved like caricatures of liberals, emphasizing a host of small-bore litmus tests that matter more to Beltway insiders than to the right-winger on the street.

Republican primary voters who turned to Mr. Limbaugh for their marching orders were asked to believe that Mr. McCain’s consistently hawkish record — on Iraq, Iran, the size of the military and any other issue you care to name — mattered less to his standing as a conservative than his views on waterboarding. Or that his extensive record as a free-trader, a tax-cutter and an opponent of pork-barrel spending wasn’t sufficient to qualify him as an economic conservative, because he had opposed a particular set of upper-bracket tax cuts in 2001.

Similarly, religious conservatives who listened to James Dobson were asked to believe that Mr. McCain’s consistent pro-life voting record was less important than the impact his campaign-finance bill had on the National Right to Life Committee’s ability to purchase issue ads on television 60 days before an election. Or that his consistent support for conservative judicial nominees, and his pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of John Roberts and Sam Alito, mattered less than his involvement in the “Gang of 14” compromise on judicial filibusters. . . .

There is indeed something very un-conservative among those whose dissatisfaction with McCain lead them to a stance of in all-or-nothing results, forgetting as they do that politics is the art of the possible rather than the commanding of ideals. As Thomas Jefferson put it to his cousin John Randolph in 1803:
". . . Experience having long taught me the reasonableness of mutual sacrifices of opinion among those who are to act together for any common object, and the expediency of doing what good we can; when we cannot do all we would wish."

1 comment:

Mad said...

Thank you for all of your support. Our Bloggers have become quite literally McCain's entire online presence. We are the basis of the "Grass-Roots" efforts. Our new 'google-groups' launch (you'll see soon) will add to that effort greatly assisting both McCain Victory 08 and the official campaign.

Keep UP The Great Work!!


Executive Director McCain Victory 08

The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas-a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.
Ronald Reagan