Truth is the beginning of wisdom…


Posted by straight shooter on February 7, 2008 under Political

Assuming John McCain gets the GOP nomination, it will show how whimsical history can be. It would be the first time in living memory that a Republican presidential nomination went to a candidate who was not merely opposed by a majority of the party but was actively despised by about half its rank-and-file voters across the country – and by many, if not most, of its congressional officeholders. After all, the McCain electoral surge was barely able to deliver a plurality of one-third of the Republican vote in a three-, four- or five-way split field. He has won, but he has driven the nomination process askew.

This result is like the nursery rhyme: “For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”

In the current instance, the lost nail was a viable conservative candidate … which is definitely not McCain! And despite the chaotic condition of the conservative Republican majority, it still could easily nominate its candidate. In fact, we had two strong conservative candidates, either of whom almost surely would have unified the party early, as George W. Bush did in 2000. But neither ran.

One being the recently very popular, smart, eloquent, conservative, successful two-term Republican governor of one of our most populous swing states. In fact, he is the son of a former president. Unfortunately for him and the party, he is also the brother of the current president. If Jeb Bush’s name were Jeb Smith, the former Florida governor easily could have kept the conservative two-thirds of the Republican vote united and won the nomination.

The other, the solidly conservative Virginia Senator George Allen.

The problem is what happened when the two strongest candidates didn’t run. Who was left? A candidate who is really a democrat (McCain), one newly minted conservative (Romney), one factional neo-conservative (Huckabee), one social liberal (Giuliani), a impracticable anti-war candidate (Paul), and an older Southern gent lacking the energy that was necessary (Thompson).

So, unless things change rapidly, John McCain is left to lead the Republican party into the November battle. Yes, McCain is the finest war hero since Eisenhower to run for president … but he also is the one senior Republican who has gleefully put his thumb in the eyes of his fellow Republicans and conservatives for a decade and a half. He would become the apostate leader of a party that resists the kind of “flexibility” demanded by the social liberal platforms.

Conservatives worry (with good cause) that this fluke of Republican history might permanently deflect the course of the party away from conservatism.

We do need to remember though, if we conservatives sit on our hands this November we do risk marginalization within the party … but it will also let us be part of the restructuring of the party for the conservative cause. Let’s not throw the party “out with the bathwater” … let’s refill the tub.