Maybe because I had resigned myself to the prospect of John McCain as the GOP nominee that I had been leaning toward voting for him in next week’s GOP primary. I had reflected on his record and while I was often disappointed with his zeal to compromise with Democrats on domestic issues, I was impressed with his steadfast stance in the War on Terror. He never backed down from support of the Iraq War even when the Administration failed to implement a successful strategy for victory.
Unlike Ms. Hillary who has taken every position under the sun on Iraq, well, that is, every position designed to appeal to the particular audience she needs wins over to gain political favor (without offending people may need later on), John McCain has been unwavering.
Believing as I (and others on the right) do “that the war on terror is the #1 overriding issue of this campaign,” I much prefer John McCain as Commander-in-Chief to his inconstant Democratic colleague from the Empire State.
But, like Mona Charen (in the observation I quoted earlier), just as I “take a step in his direction, I am reminded of some other apostasy.”
John McCain provided an example of such apostasy in the debate Wednesday night at the Reagan Library. While I missed the debate, I did read about it extensively online. It was interesting to be reading about it not to see how my candidate had done, but to figure out which one to support.
In a move which blogger Bruce Kessler called “not becoming,” McCain continued to misrepresent Romney’s record, claiming the former Bay State governor favored timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. The Arizona Senator also suggested Wall Street greed was responsible for the subprime crisis. But, as Glenn Reynolds shows in this post, it seems the problem there has as much do with lax supervision of home loans than anything else. In so doing, as John O’Sullivan put it, the GOP fronrunner undercut “a whole raft of potential GOP appeals.”
Although he does look presidential, Mitt Romney has not won me over. He does have some good ideas, but delivers them more as an executive offering a PowerPoint presentation to reshape corporate strategy than a leader presenting his vision to inspire a nation. He may be smart and support conservative ideas, but is, as Roger L. Simon put it, rather “bland.” If he can’t excite the base in this campaign, how can he excite the base (and then some) in the fall campaign?
That said, if in the next few days, John McCain continues to thumb his nose at the party — and some of its ideas — I will vote next week for Romney (or Fred Thompson) as kind of a protest vote, a signal to the frontrunner that I believe he is taking conservative ideas — and his party’s conservative base — for granted. Of course, my vote won’t make much of a difference unless others do the same.
I still haven’t made up about my mind as to how I’ll vote.
If John McCain wants to rally the base, something he’ll need to do to win in November, he must show more grace in confronting his Republican opponents and more respect for conservative ideas.