Alright, while I am not a conservative, I think I read and follow politics enough to know something about what they want in a leader, in a presidential candidate. But I cannot understand why conservatives have not lined up behind John McCain as their candidate. He's tough, he's absurdly old, he served in the military, he's charismatic, he's like Ronald Reagan, except he really is all the things Ronny pretended to be (except for absurdly old, Ronny really was absurdly old). So I went to Deroy Murdock, one of the insane conservatives at the National Review (not imply that all conservatives are insane, just most of the ones that work at the National Review) to see exactly what objections people on the right have to John McCain.
First, Murdock notes in passing that he is "appropriately hawkish overseas." Indeed. McCain has done exactly as much as any conservative could have asked for in foreign policy and more. He along with the Clintons are a big part of the reason Bush and co. were able to get their wish to go into Iraq, because most Americans trusted them and they lent credibility to the cause. (Shut the fuck up, Bill Clinton, you did support the war, you said it here and here. Oh, you were lying, misleading people with semantics you could turn around later? That is unsurprising.) McCain, however, has gone beyond the call of duty, as he always does, by steadfastly supporting the war at it's nadir in popularity, and staking his reputation on a plan of success that he put forward, in an election year, which you conservatives think is working.
Next Murdock goes over the objections. His first says that McCain didn't support the Arctic Wildlife Refuge drilling Murdock supposes that if we had drilled there, we wouldn't be in the oil crunch we are in today. Well I mean, I don't know how I would argue with a crazy conservative like Murdock about this except to say: come on. Really? A vote to drill a relatively small amount of oil 5 years ago is disqualifying? For the rest of you, do I even need to argue this? I'll just use a few key phrases: environmentalism, rapidly expanding demand around the world, global warming, SMALL amount of oil.
He next cites McCain's backing a bill where power producers (not everyone....power producers) would have to pay to exceed government mandated carbon dioxide levels, to combat "alleged 'global warming.'" This bill was so radical that it was co-sponsored by Joe Lieberman, who, if he was a food, would be unbuttered toast. Note to Murdock, even if you disagree that global warming exists, isn't it better to get a moderate bill through to take the wind out of the sails of the movement. And even if you disagree with his strategy, can you name a candidate with a realistic shot at the White House on the Republican side today who wouldn't sign such a measure as President? No, Big Poppa Fred and Ron Paul don't count.
So those objections, while ridiculous, at least made sense. Now we get into the nonsensical objections: Murdock cites that McCain didn't support Bush's tax cuts in '01 and '03 (even though he voted for them to be renewed) and didn't vote for the repeal of the "Death Tax". But why exactly didn't he support the tax cuts? Because they weren't accompanied by spending cuts! He is actually more conservative than you, Deroy Murdock, you the irresponsible liberal who wants to deficit spend. He actually thought that conservatives, being supposedly good businesspeople, would want a balanced budget and would want to pay down the debt while also having tax cuts. But you know, that kind of dangerous thinking gives you credibility, and that's clearly a disqualifier on the Republican side. No, you're right, conservatives want leaders who just vote the party line and don't consider the consequences. If only they could have Bush back in '09.
Murdock next complains that McCain is against waterboarding for the rather churlish reason that he was tortured for five years because he wouldn't put out an embarrassing press release about the United States. Murdock alleges that McCain should get over this rather silly objection, since waterboarding isn't torture. Hmm, does Murdock ever question himself? Like does he ever think that maybe someone who was tortured for five years knows more about what constitutes torture than he, Deroy Murdock, who spent his young adult life writing conservative columns? Even if he still disagrees, does the fact that McCain allowed himself to be tortured for five years because he didn't want to even appear disloyal say something about what he'll do to protect the United States. What have the other candidates done to prove this? Manage the Olympics? Lose weight? Maintain a ridiculous Southern accent on Law and Order?
Finally, Murdock closes with a quote by Rick Santorum who claimed that McCain was always against them. Just as a reminder, Santorum was so unreasonable that he, a two term incumbent, lost his Senate seat by 20 points in Pennsylvania, which isn't exactly Cambridge. If Murdock is looking for a hint as to how an election where they choose someone of Santorum's ideological craziness to be their nominee, perhaps he should be reminded of the last Senate incumbent who lost his seat by so wide a margin: George McGovern.