Brad Smith at RedState crystallizes the concerns rattling around in my mind over the nomination of John McCain in a clear-eyed and unemotional post. He looks at all the possibilities that worry conservatives and comes to a fairly bleak conclusion.
Atrocious policies? Check. Stubbornness and temperament? Check. The critical importance of winning the war against jihadists? Check. Judicial nominations? Check. The Democrats’ likely actions if elected? Check. Division in the Republican Party throughout a McCain administration? Check. Most importantly, McCain’s almost certain inability to shift his stance to conservative orthodoxy and have any hope of presiding effectively (assuming he can even win the election)? Oh, yes indeed … check-o-rama.
Here’s Smith’s take on the dilemma McCain faces because of his repeated slanders of our motives:
For example, it is not just that Senator McCain opposes opening ANWR for oil drilling, but that he implies that those who support drilling in ANWR (the bulk of his party) would favor drilling in the Grand Canyon, something not remotely comparable and something no conservative wants to do. It is not just that he promoted restrictions on political speech, but he felt it necessary to call fellow Republican senators “corrupt.” It is not only that he was less than enthusiastic about the agenda of many evangelicals, but that he felt it necessary to call them, “agents of intolerance.” It was not enough for him to oppose President Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 – he felt the need to denounce them as “tax cuts for the rich” in leftist lingo that left most Democrats in the dust. The list could go on and on.
Moreover, if Senator McCain is truly a “straight-talker” who tells people “things they don’t want to hear,” then we must take these types of comments – many of them repeated several times, some of them part of set piece speeches – as his true beliefs. In that case, it appears that Senator McCain really hopes to lead into battle a group of people he considers to be boorish, stupid, yahoos. It is understandable if this doesn’t inspire the troops. If he is merely scoring political points, well, the “straight talking” image goes by the boards.
Which is it? Is he the leader of the boorish, stupid yahoos? Or is he not a straight talker after all? Don’t expect a clarification anytime soon from candidate McCain.
Speaking personally, I’ll hold my nose and vote for John McCain in November if he can do just two things.
- Convince me that he clearly understands the nature and aims of our jihadist enemies, and that he has a coherent long-term strategy for crushing them.
- Convince me that he will nominate judges like John Roberts and Samuel Alito without insisting on a pro-campaign-finance-reform litmus test … and push them through a Democrat-controlled Senate.
If he can do that I’ll vote for him. Otherwise, he can forget it. Convince me, Senator.