I’ve long been dismayed by the fury of many conservatives’ attacks on John McCain. I understand why McCain is not some conservatives’ first choice for the nomination, but the ongoing effort to read him out of the conservative movement has gone way too far. To assert, as some have, that there is “really” no difference between McCain (average ADA rating from 2002 through 2006 of 23%) and Hillary Clinton (average ADA rating over the same period of 96%) is the kind of never-mind-the-facts shrillness that we expect from the Left, not from our fellow conservatives.
Of the principal Republican candidates this year, John McCain was one of two (Fred Thompson was the other) who could plausibly claim to be a life-long conservative. Is he “pure”? No, but who is? Certainly not Mitt Romney. Not me, either, for that matter. There are several important issues where I part company with McCain, but to put my disagreements with McCain on a par with my disagreements with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama–life-long liberals, both–would be absurd.
My biggest concerns about McCain relate to the economy. His uncritical endorsement of anthropogenic global warming theory, combined with his advocacy of a U.S.-only carbon cap and trade system, suggest a failure to understand the practical consequences of government actions on the economy. But, again: if we have a choice between McCain, who will need expert advice on how to translate his conservative instincts into effective public policy, and Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, whose purpose will be to socialize broad swaths of the economy and increase the power of government relative to the private sector, is it really a close question?
Moreover, the President’s pre-eminent responsibility is national security. No one doubts McCain’s qualifications or his resolve where they most matter.
It’s sad to acknowledge, but some of my favorite conservatives are among those who have gone around the bend in their incessant attacks on McCain. Laura Ingraham has a superb radio show and has been very kind to this site. But, frankly, I can no longer listen to her bash McCain day after day. I’ve started tuning in to a local sports talk show instead.
Other conservatives, thankfully, are (in my view) voices of reason. No one has supported Mitt Romney more enthusiastically than Hugh Hewitt. But this morning, Hugh acknowledged that, while the battle is not over, John McCain “has a clear path to the nomination.” Hugh offered seven reasons to support the GOP’s nominee:
[I]t is very possible to play full contact politics without the threat of going home if your team loses. The stakes in the fall are far too high for that.
Roger Simon is not exactly a conservative, but he is with us on what I consider to be the most vital issues of our time. Today, he wrote a thoughtful piece on McCain and the conservatives, in which he suggested that when McCain attends CPAC, maybe conservatives should try to learn something from him, too:
[W]hat I haven