Maverick = Bush?

An interesting opinion piece at USA Today, Should Conservatives Back Mac? by Jonah Goldberg (hat tip JonJayRay at Stop the ACLU)

There are lots of reasons, some good, some bad, for conservatives’ angry dyspepsia toward McCain. I have bouts of it myself. From campaign-finance reform, to his proposed amnesty for illegal immigrants to his general tendency to burnish his own maverick street rep by triangulating off conservatives, McCain just seems to relish breaking ranks too much.

But that raises an interesting and remarkably undiscussed question for McCain’s detractors: Who are you really mad at?

Most of the criticisms aimed at McCain can be directed at President Bush himself. Campaign-finance reform is a great example. Most conservatives think McCain’s effort to regulate political speech is an unconstitutional abomination. But in fairness to McCain, he doesn’t think that. You know who does? George W. Bush. The president signed the McCain-Feingold bill though he admittedthat he thought it was unconstitutional. But as a “uniter not a divider,” Bush felt it wasn’t his place to veto an unconstitutional law — his oath of office notwithstanding — that was very popular, particularly with independents, centrist Democrats and the New York Times crowd.

Amnesty for illegal immigrants? To be sure, McCain was a big player last year in pushing legislation many on the right detest. But the biggest player of all was, again, Bush. Whatever your disagreements with McCain on immigration might be, it’s pretty much impossible not to have the same disagreements with the president who campaigned in 2000 insisting that “family values don’t end at the Rio Grande.” Indeed, before the 9/11 attacks, Bush wanted to make Mexico, not Great Britain, our No. 1. ally.

You can go on like this for quite a while. If you point to McCain’s very conservative record on judges, his detractors will dismiss it, saying they don’t trust his instincts. Didn’t McCain say something about Justice Samuel Alito being too conservative? they ask. Well, didn’t Bush’s instincts guide him to naming White House insider Harriet Miers before conservatives revolted and forced him to choose again? McCain opponents note that while the senator talks a big game about cutting pork from the budget, he’s still a big regulator and friend of activist government. This is fair, to some extent, but they forget that it was President Bush who pushed through the biggest expansion of the welfare state since the Great Society with his prescription drug benefit — a plan McCain opposed and promises to scale back.

Jonah has some good points. Face it, McCain is not all that different from Dubya. Other then the tax cuts and the war on terrorism, what has W done that is conservative? OK, he got two very conservative judges on to the Supreme Court. But, as pointed out, Harriet Miers. Can you name anything else?

I reckon that Mr. Goldberg missed the main point in the difference between the two: trust. A good chunk of the conservative base does not trust McCain. Even some who are McCain supporters do not trust him. Bush, on the other hand, inspires trust from a good chunk of conservatives. Want to know why? Remember this? That is the kind of thing those of us on the Right expect from Bush. The Left may hate his guts, irrationally, and because he beat Gore, and because so many of them are just unhinged, but there is not doubt he is a nice guy. Down to earth.

I understand everybody in this country doesn’t agree with the decisions I’ve made. And I made some tough decisions. But people know where I stand.

Can McCain say that? On some issues, yes, some, no. We are never quite sure what is in his mind. So, we do not trust him. What he should do is come out and say “hey, you kids, get off my lawn!” Er, um, sorry, silliness running through my head this morning. Actually, it goes something like “you may not always like some of my policy stances, but, I can guarantee I will always do what I think is right and is best for the country.”

Also, one for the first debate with B. Hussein “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and complete lack of any plans other then “hope.””

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3 Responses to “Maverick = Bush?”

  1. Silke says:

    So your trust and respect for President Bush is based on an incident over three years ago in Chile where he helped pull his chief bodyguard from a crowd of Chilean security personnel who were preventing him from following the President?

    How about spending over five and a half years as a prisoner of war and refusing to be released early (which he was offered – and as the son of the commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater this would have been a big propaganda coup for the North Vietnamese) unless his fellow captors were also released? That’s not just being nice and “down to earth.” That is real courage. That is true leadership.

  2. You’re overreading again, Silke. That was just one example. Sheesh!

    This might sound bad, but, what does his having been a POW have to do with trust? I respect his service, but, that was a long time ago. What is he doing to gain the trust of Conservatives?

  3. Silke says:

    Teach, I would argue your example has even less to do with trust then mine. So what if President Bush a “nice guy.” The fact that McCain endured torture, two years of solitary confinement and then willingly refused an early release says a lot about his character. During his career in the Senate he has demonstrated courage in taking unpopular positions at times (a change in strategy in Iraq, a hawk on spending, etc.). You may not agree with his decisions but his positions are clear and he has never lied about them. He has certainly earned my trust and respect.

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