February 04, 2008

With McCain set to win in most of the states on Super Tuesday, there are desperate, rather vain, last-ditch efforts to either throw all anti-McCain support to Romney, embark on a fight-to-the-death insurgency “strategy” or, most revealingly, to declare all McCain voters to be little more than the spawn of the devil and to prepare for the future by pushing for a national Republican primary that will, in all likelihood, yield a nominee well to the left of McCain. The Romney campaign, for its part, has understandably

embraced this last stand mentality, since it is the only thing that can possibly save the flagging campaign’s fortunes. 

Besides being almost too late, these strategies seem to offer no better alternative and, indeed, seem sure to promise worse outcomes, while also revealing a remarkable anxiety and despair among their proponents. The cynicism of the pro-Romney strategy is clear enough: though no more credible or necessarily reliable on any of the policies that have appropriately made McCain anathema, Romney is the approved and anointed establishment “change” candidate who must beat back McCain’s very odd status quo insurgency, and so all Good Conservatives must come to the aid of the fraud to overcome the “maverick.” Think about what the host of radio hosts and the legion of pundits would have you believe: that McCain, for all his many errors both great and small, is meaningfully less conservative than the man who was essentially a Rockefeller Republican until three years ago and who once tried running to the left of Ted Kennedy, the Democrat who just endorsed Barack Obama.  This is, quite frankly, absurd.

I should be clear that I want nothing to do with McCain. I have been writing against John McCain since I editorialized against him in my college newspaper eight years ago after he visited the campus, and his views have only become more offensive with time as he has had occasion to see them put into action, but today he holds substantially the same horrid views that he held then. More to the point, on the two policies where he most offends traditional conservatives, immigration and the Iraq war, he is indistinguishable from the president whom most of his critics cheered into power and whom many of his critics still defend to the last. Ironically, if the Romney ralliement should somehow unexpectedly succeed, the people who enabled and empowered the non-conservative Mr. Bush will have given their blessing and seal of approval to Romney, whose conservatism will never have to be demonstrated by actions, but will simply be assumed by virtue of the fact that “conservatives” rallied to his side to stop McCain.  In the extremely unlikely event that Romney comes to power, conservatives will find themselves in the same intolerable situation of having identified closely with a politician who does not necessarily intend to govern in their interests, ensuring that the reputation of conservatism will be tied inextricably to the fortunes of administration policies over which they have little real influence.  The Bush years revealed the many reasons why conservatives should not be cheerleaders for an administration or party, and yet many prominent movement figures seem intent on doing the exact same thing once again.


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