Even in the midst of an ocean of absurd statements that masquerade as political rhetoric in today’s 24/7, all news all the time media environment, attacks this week on John McCain by some convervative talkers, politicians, and pundits have been over the top.  But the most ridiculous of all were comments by Ann Coulter on Hannity and Colmes, and again on the Sean Hannity radio show, that if McCain is nominated she would vote and work for Clinton because Hillary is more conservative than McCain. Conservatives are flocking to Romney as a stop-McCain effort.  If the conservatives powers-that-be would have supported Romney earlier in the campaign cycle, he’d probably be on the way to the nomination.  I’ve liked Romney for a couple of years, but actually preferred his more moderate persona as governor to the talking-point conservative of his campaign. But I will vote for John McCain here in Georgia on Tuesday, with apologies not to Romney but to Huckabee, who I wish was electable.  Of course I’m suspect, because I also voted for McCain in the Georgia primary eight years ago.

The trashing of McCain nonsense by right wing talkers (who I usually agree with), isn’t based on his lifelong service and voting record.  Jeff Jacoby provides a more sensible take on McCain in his Boston Glove column today. He writes:   

The conservative case against McCain is clear enough; I made it myself in some of these columns when he first ran for president eight years ago. The issues that have earned McCain the label of “maverick” – campaign-finance restrictions, global warming, the Bush tax cuts, immigration, judicial filibusters – are precisely what stick in the craw of the GOP conservative base.

But this year, the conservative case for McCain is vastly more compelling.

On the surpassing national-security issues of the day – confronting the threat from radical Islam and winning the war in Iraq – no one is more stalwart. Even McCain’s fiercest critics, such as conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, will say so. “The world’s bad guys,” Hewitt writes, “would never for a moment think he would blink in any showdown, or hesitate to strike back at any enemy with the audacity to try again to cripple the US through terror.”

McCain was never an agenda-driven movement conservative, but he “entered public life as a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution,” as he puts it, and on the whole his record has been that of a robust and committed conservative. He is a spending hawk and an enemy of pork and earmarks. He has never voted to increase taxes, and wants the Bush tax cuts made permanent for the best of reasons: “They worked.” He is a staunch free-trader and a champion of school choice. He is unabashedly prolife and pro-Second Amendment. He opposes same-sex marriage. He wants entitlements reined in and personal retirement accounts expanded.

McCain’s conservatism has usually been more a matter of gut instinct than of a rigorous intellectual worldview, and he has certainly deviated from Republican orthodoxy on some serious issues. For all that, his ratings from conservative watchdog groups have always been high. “Even with all the blemishes,” notes National Review, a leading journal on the right (and a backer of Romney), “McCain has a more consistent conservative record than Giuliani or Romney. . . . This is an abiding strength of his candidacy.”

McCain can beat Clinton or Obama, but a very wise choice of a running mate will help.  We’ll look at that another day.   

Filed under: JimPoliticsRepublicans

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