08 February 2008

The (Perceived) Problem With McCain

As you can see from my blogroll, I often like to read outside the lines to see what I'm missing when I don't watch Fox News.

Today's hit comes from Mona Charen, at Townhall.com, on why real conservatives can't vote for McCain.

In addition to saying that he has strayed from conservativism, Charen reminds us that McCain denounced waterboarding as torture (!). She goes on to impugn McCain for too frequently reminding the American public that he was tortured in a Vietnamese POW camp, thus rendering political debate neutral by trumping with patriotism. (Not sure I agree with this last, by the way, but she's entitled to call it as she sees it. Certainly, the guy sells what he's got, but do smooth political operators back down at the mention of his service history?)

Here, though, is the kicker for Charen:

There is a strutting self-righteousness about McCain that goes hand in hand with a nitroglycerin temper. He flatters himself that his colleagues in the Senate dislike him because he stands up for principle whereas they sell their souls for pork. Not exactly. He is disliked because on many, many occasions, he has been disrespectful, belligerent and vulgar to those who differ with him.
Hmm. Okay. He's unliked because he's not nice?

The bottom line, I guess, is that I really struggle when I hear suggestions that real conservatives won't vote for McCain. I don't believe for a second that conservatives are going to stay home this year, no matter what kind of bad impression the candidate makes. Real conservatives won't vote for Obama, I don't imagine--though things are kooky this year, so who knows?--nor will they be keen to elect him by abstention. And c'mon. If Clinton is the nominee? Real conservatives who haven't driven in 15 years will fire up the Dynasty and drive their friends to the polls on election day to get the vote out against Clinton, no matter what they feel about John McCain.

So what's with all the bluster? Do the red-blooded American conservatives just have to have their moment to whine before they follow the herd? Probably. Meanwhile, will McCain smooch to the base when he's got such a commanding, if unexpected, presence in the contest? That will be the question to watch.