They Define Themselves In Terms Of How They Pander

Hm. George Will attended a different CPAC than I attended. But his glass-half-full column is worth checking out.

Now, consider today's three leading candidates, starting with McCain, the mere mention of whose name elicited disapproving noises at CPAC. This column holds the Olympic record for sustained dismay about McCain's incorrigible itch to regulate political speech ("campaign finance reform"). But it is not incongruous that he holds Barry Goldwater's Senate seat.

This is cant, isn't it? An anti-McCain scoundrel could point out that the senator whose big ideas have been "send more troops to Iraq" and "shut up, all of you" holds Earnest McFarland's Senate seat. Anyway, Goldwater held both of Arizona's Senate seats. And he had a belief in small government that, as Matt Welch can explain for you, McCain does not really share. McCain believes in a hodgepodge of ideas with the common thread of government whacking people who piss him off. This manifests as some good work against earmarking and a high ACU rating (which Will points out), but it raises doubts about what kind of a president he'd be. (At the CAGW press conference, McCain's first answer to a question on what he'd do about pork in the White House was "invite Porker [the pig mascot] into the Oval Office." It didn't sound like he had thought out how a president would fight reckless spending and earmarking.)

At CPAC, Romney gave the most polished speech, touching all the conservative movement's erogenous zones, pointedly denouncing the "McCain-Kennedy" immigration bill and promising to seek repeal of the McCain-Feingold law regulating campaign speech. Romney, however, is criticized by many conservatives for what they consider multiple conversions of convenience -- on abortion, stem cell research, gay rights, gun control. But if Romney is now locked into positions that these conservatives like, why do they care so much about whether political calculation or moral epiphany moved him there?

The reason: We don't assume he's "locked" into them. As I pointed out after CPAC, candidate George W. Bush had a way of "locking in" to various conservative ideas when he figured that one or another was electorally powerful. It's giving to much credit to Romney to assume his conversions are genuine or (as Will doesn't, but some CPACers did) compare his evolution to Reagan's. This is probably asking too much of a modern candidate, but Reagan spent his post-gubernatorial, pre-presidential career repeatedly debating and hashing out his philosophy, explaining why he rejected the massive growth of the federal government from the Great Society onward into the 1970s. Romney has attacked a few unpopular Bush policies and... what else?

Will has praise for Rudy, whom he introduced at CPAC:

He favors school choice, he opposes bilingual education that confines students to linguistic ghettos and he ended the "open admissions" policy that degraded City University, once an effective instrument of upward mobility. The suggestion that Sept. 11 required city tax increases triggered from Giuliani four adjectives: "dumb, stupid, idiotic and moronic."

Of all the '08 frontrunners, Rudy can marshall the most proof of his economic conservatism. At some point, though, he has to talk about the role of the executive and the national security state. Not just reenact 9/11 - talk about the powers of the president and the federal govenment.

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  • Bagel||

    Maybe I'm just uneducated on him but I can't see myself supporting Rudy because I can't see Rudy being bothered by things like
    "The Constitution" or "rights". Maybe I haven't looked closely enough.

  • ||

    Bagel,
    everything changed on 9/11 and we mustn't trouble ourselves with trifles like the constitution and "rights". geez. we are in a war on terrorism against the axis of evil you know? homeland security is much more important than any pesky human rights or civil liberties.
    we need to all just get with the programming.


    can I get an Amen?

  • Bro ben\'s amen squad (69 stro||

    AMEN brotherben!

  • ||

    I love George Will.* He is the reason that I do not mind Newsweek showing up at my house almost once a week.
    That said, why is he suddenly a Republican cheerleader? I love him** because he is a conservative, but not beholden to a party. Who greased his palm in the run-up to the primaries?

    *Then why don't I marry him? I've asked.
    **Unrequited

  • ||

    "McCain believes in a hodgepodge of ideas with the common thread of government whacking people who piss him off."

    And what other motivation might there be?
    Nobody goes into politics out of a burning desire to leave people alone.

    _________

    "It didn't sound like he had thought out how a president would fight reckless spending and earmarking."

    What are the chances he might get David Walker to tutor him?

  • ||

    Nobody goes into politics out of a burning desire to leave people alone.

    Except, apparently, Ron Paul.

    Hmmm, who to vote for in the primaries...?

  • ||

    McCain's first answer to a question on what he'd do about pork in the White House was "invite Porker [the pig mascot] into the Oval Office."

    It's been 12 years since anyone got porked in the Oval Office.

  • ||

    McCain = Richard Nixon with bad skin.

  • ||

    Actually, Ernest MacFarland held the other seat (the one Goldwater was in the first time, subsequently held by Paul Fannin, Dennis DeConcini, and now Jon Kyl). The pre-Goldwater II holder of McCain's seat was Carl Hayden.

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