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Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Getting On the Bus

(Bump for discussion on Allman & Smash in the Morning)

As of today, the policy of this blog is to support John McCain's candidacy for President in 2008.

I do not make this decision lightly. Many of my friends in the center-right blogosphere despise John McCain, and I myself have been quite acerbic about some of the things he's done in the last six years.

There are two ways to interpret the election results from Tuesday. One is that many conservatives, feeling betrayed by the Bush administration on their pet issues, stayed home to teach the Republicans a lesson. The other is that moderates abandoned the party. My feeling is it was a little bit of both.

But we really don't have the time to figure it out. The presidential election of 2008 is already imminent. I have very little doubt about whom the Democrats will nominate, and it ain't Tom Vilsack. The results on Tuesday virtually guarantee that if Hillary wins, she will have a Democratic congress as well.

This election is too important to blow. We cannot nominate someone that the right wing of the party will support whole-heartedly in the twin hopes that:

1. They will come out and vote.
2. They will more than offset any votes lost in the center.

And it's not like McCain's probable opponents have tremendous appeal to the social conservative wing of the party. I don't want to bash the other Republican candidates here; this isn't about knocking down the other guys. Rudy's pro-choice; so am I. But I don't kid myself that's going to be a popular position with the pro-life crowd. Maybe they vote for him anyway, because of his performance under incredible stress on 9-11 and his tough on crime policies.

Newt? Let's not kid ourselves that Newt's going to pick up any votes for us in the center; he's been successfully demonized by the liberals. And he's got enough problems in his past that the CC crowd is certain to feel a little ambivalent about his candidacy.

Mitt Romney? I doubt he's been prominent enough on the national stage to make the jump to the Oval Office. And while I have zero problems with him being a Mormon, others will.

McCain is not free of problems in his past either. His volcanic temper is legendary. He was one of the Keating Five senators, in fact, the only one still in office. His wife stole pain-killers from a charity she headed.

But the Keating five scandal was overblown (remember, his conviction has been oveturned), and McCain's involvement was innocent, according to even the Phoenix New Times, a left-wing newspaper that looked very carefully at the charges back in the early 1990s. By all accounts, McCain only supported Keating because he was a major employer in Arizona who claimed to be getting shafted by government bureaucrats. When McCain learned that was not the case and that Keating probably had broken laws, he withdrew his support, unlike the other senators in the room.

His wife's painkiller problem? Rush Limbaugh has taught us all that addiction to painkillers is extraordinarily pernicious. Granted, he didn't steal them, but if he'd had access to them would he have?

McCain's been solid on the war on terror, the major issue of our time, and because of his credibility with the media at least has countered some of the natural anti-war tendencies of that group. He also helped defuse the torture issue. The Gang of 14 seems to have worked out pretty well; would we have gotten Alito on the court without some real problems? And am I the only person breathing a little easier about Democratic control of the Senate without the nuclear option having been used?

I am aware that this is not a particular popular position in the center-right blogosphere. I hope my friends who disagree will recognize that I am endorsing McCain because I feel he's a solid Republican who gives the party the best chance to win in 2008.
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