Tuesday's primaries settled one question: McCain will be the Republican nominee. According to McCain advisor Charlie Black:
To date, we have 775 delegates, Romney has 284, Huckabee has 205. It takes 1,191 to clinch the nomination. There are 963 left to be chosen, so Romney or Huckabee would have to have all of them -- all of them -- to get to 1,191. . . It's virtually impossible for Romney or Huckabee to be the nominee just based on the arithmetic.I've long been a McCain critic, and was particularly troubled when he sided with Bill Frist and Senate Democrats accepting the unconstitutional use of the filibuster when providing "Advice and Consent" on Presidential appointments. As John Hinderaker notes, there's also his "uncritical endorsement of anthropogenic global warming theory, combined with his advocacy of a U.S.-only carbon cap and trade system, [which] suggest a failure to understand the practical consequences of government actions on the economy."
Still, policy and politics are a matter of "compared to what?" The "what" being Obama or Hillary. So conservative pundits and bloggers are soul-searching. For example, Stop the ACLU's John Stephenson asks "Where Do Conservatives Go From Here?":
Getting behind McCain: Basically this argument goes a little beyond the lines of party loyalty. The question is how that will be interpreted. You have to whittle down what the Republican nominee has in common with the Democrat vs. how they differ from the Democrats. While McCain is pro-amnesty, anti-free speech, and has his many other liberal tendencies, he is pro-victory, pro-life, and he isn't planning to bring socialized medicine to America.In contrast, Hugh Hewitt -- like me, a Romney supporter -- urges unity:
Actually voting Democrat: Ann Coulter and Tammy Bruce have both said they would consider voting for Hillary if McCain ends up the nominee. Basically the argument is that if the country is to go to hell in a handbasket let it happen under the Democrat banner, and not the Republican one. The one thing that worries me about this is nominating judges. I would go out on a limb and say that its a better gamble to trust McCain over Hillary or Obama on putting up a conservative judge. Then again we are talking about the leader of the gang of 14. We do have his word, but what good is that? . . .
Sitting it out: Its basically an argument of principle over party. . . This is probably what I will do. I want to vote FOR someone instead of against someone for a change. If no one can motivate me to get off the couch and vote FOR something, I probably won't.
There are seven reasons for anyone to support the eventual nominee no matter who it is: The war and six Supreme Court justices over the age of 68.Finally, today's Wall Street Journal examined each candidate's position on free trade:
Folks who want to take their ball and go home have to realize that even three SCOTUS appointments could revolutionize the way elections are handled in this country in a stroke, mandating the submission of redistricting lines to court scrutiny for "fairness." . . .
The GOP as well is the party committed to victory in Iraq and the wider war. A four year time-out would be a disaster, a period of time in which al Qaeda and its jihadist off-shoots would regroup in some places and continue to spread in others. Iran, even if punished in the months before November, would certainly continue and accelerate its plans under the soft pleadings of a President Obama or Clinton 2.0.
Trade is a good litmus test of statesmanship, since many polls show that voters believe trade with other countries hurts our economy. Which of the presidential candidates will stick up for free trade in the face of doubtful and sometimes hostile audiences?Hewitt and the WSJ make the better case. SCOTUS nominees traditionally have been my top concern. But I labeled the last election as "a referendum on foreign policy":
During their debates, some of the Republican candidates expressed more ifs, ands or buts about free trade than others. John McCain says: "Free trade should be the continuing principle that guides this nation's economy." Mitt Romney's position is: "I strongly support free trade, but free trade has to be fair in both directions." According to Mike Huckabee: "I believe in free trade, but it has to be fair trade." But elsewhere he has said: "I don't want to see our food come from China, our oil come from Saudi Arabia and our manufacturing come from Europe and Asia."
Hillary Clinton has taken an even stronger stance against free trade, suggesting that the economic theories underpinning it no longer hold. To support that she cited economics Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson, but he was only making the long-understood but sometimes forgotten point that, even in the long run, free trade does not benefit everyone.
Mrs. Clinton believes in "smart trade." As president she would appoint an official to ensure that "provisions to protect labor and environmental standards" are enforced by international bodies like the WTO and the International Labor Organization. She proposes a "time out" on future trade agreements, and a reconsideration of existing deals -- including Nafta.
Barack Obama is more even-handed: "Global trade is not going away, technology is not going away, the Internet is not going away. And that means enormous opportunities, but [it] also means more dislocations." In a 2005 essay he said: "It's not whether we should protect our workers from competition, but what we can do to fully enable them to compete against workers all over the world."
If Messrs. McCain and Obama see foreign trade as a glass that is half-full, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Romney and Mr. Huckabee see the glass as half- empty.
[T]he critical issue is how a Kerry Administration would conduct the war against terror. I've argued that the Democrats are dangerous because they either don't believe in evil or insist evil can be overcome without confrontation and military force, but by negotiation and diplomacy alone. . .Four years on, this hasn't changed--Independent voter Roger Simon makes sense:
The next President's principal duty is protecting America from Islamic terrorism. . . Radical Islam offers only two options: conversion to Islam under Sharia law or death. That's evil--and grounds for war. And America can't afford a President who believes evil is negotiable.
Speaking bluntly, it may be that the search for ideological purity anywhere on the political spectrum is a fool’s game (unless you’re trying to sell books or drive ratings). Anyway, it’s clear from Tuesday’s returns the Republican electorate isn’t buying it. . .Further, pace the WSJ, I'm still a committed free-trade advocate. So there's the Court, the War and the Market--none of which would benefit from elevating any Senate Democrat to the White House.
I’m not going to run down every issue. But as you know, there is one overriding one – we are at war. On that issue alone, the Republican Party is hugely fortunate to have a potential candidate whose credentials are impeccable. Don’t undercut him. Our lives and our culture are at stake.
Conclusion: McCain supporter Victor Davis Hanson frets that:
the McCain animus is deeply ingrained and apparently can't be retracted. It only makes things worse either to attack sincere anti-McCainites or to ask them to reconsider, or to ask them to vote for the lesser of what they see as the two evils.He's right about the hostility, but unduly pessimistic on the outcome. After all, even I'm reconsidering. And Romney has suspended his cmapaign.
Maxed Out Mama explains why she "Can't Vote for McCain" in comments and on her blog. And read "Why McCain might win."
MORE & MORE:
McCain took the pledge:
I intend to nominate judges who have proven themselves worthy of our trust that they take as their sole responsibility the enforcement of laws made by the people’s elected representatives, judges of the character and quality of Justices Roberts and Alito, judges who can be relied upon to respect the values of the people whose rights, laws and property they are sworn to defend.(via Right Wing News, Instapundit, Right Truth)