Thursday, February 7, 2008

"... it would require an act of deep duplicity by Mr. McCain."

In his Feb. 7 Wonder Land column in the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger advises conservatives to shut up and get with the McCain program:

Conservatives, for whom any glass is always half full, have sold themselves short. Notwithstanding the moderate pedigrees of the three major GOP candidates on entry, all emerged from the debates as Reagan conservatives on what matters: taxes, spending, regulation and national defense. Most of the worrisome moderate positions were in the past.

When Reaganomics appeared in the late 1970s, the Republican establishment mocked it. Voodoo economics, someone said. Today for a Republican presidential candidate, it's gospel.

This is an achievement.

Some will say the debate promises were just politics. As opposed to what? Presumably moving people toward one's position is the point of all this daily political heavy-lifting. To now call a candidate's embrace of your ideas unacceptable is churlish and self-defeating. Conservatives won a decades-long debate in their party. Bank it. The demand now that Sen. McCain repudiate that old vote on the Bush tax cuts is an attempt at public humiliation. Ain't gonna happen. If life doesn't work for you without public penance, join a monastery.

Most of the distrust of the McCain candidacy is rooted in personal ill will. He's a hard case, and activists are often brittle. The fear is that one of the strongest impulses in a McCain presidency will be payback, and that he might sell out conservatives on taxes and the judiciary. That is possible, though by now it would require an act of deep duplicity by Mr. McCain. Here again, the conservatives should show more self-confidence.

Hmm... I don't think conservatives lack self-confidence. Rather, they are all too confident in their knowledge that Senator McCain is capable of acts of deep duplicity. Bill Clinton ran as a centrist and immediately began to govern as a hard-left liberal, until Newt Gingrich and the new GOP majority in Congress forced him to "triangulate" back to the center. Who in Congress will force a President McCain to triangulate, and in which direction? What in his record in the Senate indicates that he would even wish to stand up to Congressional Democrats to defend conservative domestic policies -- especially given the likelihood that they will demand he cave to their domestic policy priorities in return for allowing him some leeway on foreign policy and military affairs?

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