Thursday, December 27, 2007

John McCain Re-visited

John McCain entered this presidential race as the Republican frontrunner. When he alienated conservative voters with his support for the Senate's bill to remedy the illegal alien mess, and as others entered the race, attention shifted.

People became excited about the prospect of a Fred Thompson candidacy. But Fred fell asleep and missed the bus.

We began reconsidering Rudy Giuliani. Lots of good conservatives like Bill Simon and Ted Olsen were supporting the guy. He's the sort of tough street fighter that we need against both al Qaeda and the Democrats, and his approach to Supreme Court nominations largely neutralized his position on abortion. But then the record of scandal from his governor days began to emerge, including the illegal use of state police for use during illicit romantic getaways. (Does that sound like another guy we would like to keep out of the East Wing of the White House?)

After Mike Huckabee did surprisingly well at the Iowa straw polls, we turned our attention to the funny Baptist minister turned Arkansas governor. But aside from his solidly conservative stance on moral issues, we found very little that was recognizably conservative, or even Republican. The sentimental religious Iowans will give him a resounding Amen! on January 3, but then he will fizzle.

Of course, the whole time there has been moneybags Mitt Romney maintaining good numbers, but little excitement. That's a bad sign. It means the party is dancing with you while looking over your shoulder, scoping out the other prospects in the room. We thought he might be "the One," as Oprah puts it. He was a great success in business, he saved the Winter Olympics and he demonstrated crossover appeal by getting himself elected in liberal Massachusetts. But then you hear him and you fall asleep. And there is also the truth issue. He's an avid hunter. Well, he shot a squirrel once. He fondly remembers seeing his father march with Martin Luther King Jr in Chicago. Well, actually he meant the whole thing metaphorically. He appears to have a history of Clintonian treatment of the truth, and one that is lengthening all the time. Allow me to shift the romance analogy just slightly. If you know a young lady who is courting a man who has a habit of lying to her from time to time, you would advise her not to marry him, right?

So now our eyes are returning to John McCain, the war hero who suffered torture with his comrades rather than enjoy liberty without them. He's tough on foreign policy. He supported the surge from before the start. He has a solid pro-life voting record. He speaks frankly. It was that candidness, as well as his iron resolve on security issues, that struck me in the YouTube debate ("Republican YouTube Debate").

A guy named Jesse Kurtz, who ordinarily writes on Atlantic City issues, provides a nice little background in "A Second Look at the Third John McCain." He sees Sen. McCain as a worthy successor to his father, John Sidney McCain Jr. (1911-1981), commander-in-chief of the US Pacific Command during the Vietnam War, and his grandfather, Admiral John Sidney McCain (1884-1945), who led the Fast Carrier Task Force in World War II, and as a continuation of an aristocratic tradition that is essential to the success of our democracy. "America’s founders argued incessantly, but they agreed on one thing: preserving elements of aristocracy while incorporating vast public responsibility is tantamount to success in America’s future. Indeed, McCain is a member of that aristocracy they spoke of, while also taking responsibility for our bright future." He also provides two videos. One is the endorsement by Sen. Sam Brownback, and the other is a 12 minute McCain campaign video that gives the account of his courage in Vietnam, entitled "Courageous Service, Experienced Leadership, Bold Solutions."

Boiled down, Brownback said this. It comes across alot better on the video.

I'm here today to endorse the best pro-life candidate to beat Hillary Clinton, a man that I think is best prepared to be Commander-in-Chief during these difficult times and during this War on Terrorism, and I might say as well the person that had the right strategy a couple of years ago for how we would stablize Iraq...If you want a guy to change Washington, John McCain's the guy to do it. He has been in Washington, but he is not of Washington. He will appoint strict constructionist judges to the Supreme Court. ...[F]or a breadth of causes, the Court is the key issue! And here is a pro-life leader who will appoint strict constructionist judges...He's the full package.

Read Fred Barnes, "McCain's Last Stand: He Still Has A Chance," (The Weekly Standard, December 24, 2007). He quotes Phil Gramm saying, "Deep in their hearts, Republican primary voters know John McCain is the only great man running for president." There is certainly the stuff of greatness in him. Primary voters are sniffing for tragic flaws, perhaps including whatever led him to sponsor the McCain-Feingold assault on first ammendment freedoms and to oppose re-authorizing the Bush tax cuts.
Here is the endorsement from the Des Moines Register.
Here is Robert Novak's sober account of McCain's own surge and chances for the nomination ("GOP's Last Man Standing").

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