Reckless abandonment

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post asking readers of this blog what they would do if Senator John McCain ended up being the nominee for the party in the presidential race. The responses in the comments section were both passionate and divided. John McCain brings that out in conservatives, because so many conservatives despise McCain, while a not-so-insignificant amount of conservatives like the Arizona Senator.

Here is what I wrote in response to those who indicated they would sit out this election in protest, in an effort to teach the Republican party a lesson:

I, for one, am not going to chance Iraq turning into another Vietnam in order to attempt to teach this country any sort of lesson. If this were in peacetime, it’d be different, but it’s not.

Furthermore, the people doing the most “enduring” would be our troops and their families, both of whom have sacrificed so much for a goal that is achieveable if only we are able to set aside our differences with whoever the Republican nominee is in order to make sure what we set out in Iraq to do from the get go has a chance at succeeding. If we don’t, our troops and their families won’t be the only ones “enduring” another Vietnam. The Iraqi people will be enduring it, too – and in a way no innocent person should have to suffer, especially not when the US has promised to stick around until they’re reasonably sure that Iraqi law enforcement will be able to prevent that from happening.

Our troops have sacrificed a lot more than most of us have for this war. I don’t think it’s asking too much to sacrifice our pride and vote for the person who will work hard to make sure that those same troops will have a Commander in Chief who will work to make sure that the goal is achieved in Iraq, then allowing our troops to return home from the mission with honor.

Should John McCain become the nominee, I’ll be writing about the importance of him being elected Commander in Chief from the time he gets the nomination to the election, using the rationale I posted above. I think it is imperative for Republicans to think beyond their dislike of McCain and look at what would happen in Iraq – and in the overall war on terror – should we have a President Hillary or Obama.

ST reader Sev slammed that point home in a comment within that same thread:

It’s highly probable that whoever the Republican nominee will be it’ll be someone I dislike and distrust. That’s just the way it’s looking now. In any other time, I’d sit the election out and just sulk, and figure that if we get a Democrat it’d just make the conservative position stronger in 4 or 6 years due to the bad governance we’d get, ala Carter.

But, as ST has said, we are in the middle of a larger war against Islamic Fascism, that is just too important to back track and take a 4 year break from. As Patton said, he didn’t believe in falling back and regrouping, didn’t want to pay for the same real estate twice. He was dead on right, and we cannot afford, after the advances we’ve made, after the butt kicking Al Queda has received from us, after the smack down they’re getting in Iraq, to back up and give them a victory and chance to regroup. That will most likely lead to a mushroom cloud over a US city, and that’s a price I will not willingly pay, so I’ll hold my nose and vote for whoever the Republican nominee is, even if it’s McCain, as no Democrat has their head on straight with respect to the war and defense.

I’m bringing all this up again because it’s being discussed in the conservative blogosphere that Rush Limbaugh has indicated recently that this election may be one where he doesn’t endorse the Republican candidate – assuming, of course, that that candidate is John McCain. This baffles me, because Rush warned strongly against Republicans sitting out the elections in 2006, because he knew our troops in harms way in Iraq deserved better than what has passed for “leadership” in Congress since the anti-war Dems took over. I find it saddening that he apparently no longer holds this view.

Contrary to what the mainstream mediots would like people to believe, Republicans don’t need anyone – whether it be Rush or any other prominent conservative – to tell them how to vote. We’re smart enough to make up our own minds. Yeah, conservative icons like Rush can be an influence, but in the end, we factor in what we’ve read, heard, and seen about the candidate and the impressions he/she gives us and decide who we’re going to vote for in the primaries and later in the general.

I certainly didn’t start this blog to tell anyone how to vote, but if I’m passionate about a candidate and./or a cause I will post my reasons why I think that candidate deserves to be elected and/or why that cause/candidate deserves to be championed. I realize that what I have written about McCain in the last few weeks may cause me to lose a few readers who disagree with me, but people come here to read my opinions on hot topics, and I have never been one to hold back on my opinion simply because I know a significant amount of my readers will disagree with me (see the illegal immigration issue and the UAE port deal for examples). Disagreeing is ok, of course, because in general conservatives have the same goals in mind – we just don’t always agree on how to achieve those goals.

As I noted earlier, the Iraq issue (as part of the overall global war on terror) is the most important reason to vote for John McCain, but there are other reasons that should be taken into consideration – something Michael Medved writes about here in a piece titled “Six Big Lies About John McCain.” In the piece, he tackles some misconceptions about McCain, including the one regarding the Gang of 14 and McCain’s supposed “support” for higher taxes.

Medved took it even further this evening in a scathing piece he wrote on his blog that I think was directed squarely at Limbaugh. He’s a lot more harsh in using a tone that I wouldn’t on discussing the issue, but I sense that his frustration about the party split mirrors a lot of people’s – including mine – going into this fall’s elections. Here are some key points he made:

From a conservative perspective, it’s easy to come up with, say, twenty-five issues areas in which McCain would be preferable to Barack/Clinton. How about the war on terror, taxes, socialized medicine, school choice, cutting government, gays in the military, tort reform, curbing abortion, second amendment rights, nuclear power, pork barrel spending, support for Israel, confronting Iran, affirmative action, appointing strict constructionist judges, and many, many more.

Above all, the question that should dominate this election cycle was well-formulated by Roger Simon: In the not unlikely event that Islamists come to power in Pakistan, placing a pro-terror regime in charge of at least 60 nuclear weapons, who would you like to see sitting at a desk in the oval office?

That thought is enough to keep me awake at night. And for those who argue that Medved is utilizing a “scare tactic” in an effort to get people to see the logic in supporting a McCain nomination, it’s no more a scare tactic than when Bush, Cheney, and their allies – including many in the punditocracy and the blogosphere – argued in 2004 that having a Democrat in charge of the WH would lead to disaster in the war on terror. That assertion is just as true now as it was then.

I understand that support for McCain from many people would not be enthusiastic, but then again, none of the nominees that we have right now really inspires the kind of enthusiasm we would have if we had a strong candidate out there in the mold of a Ronald Reagan who, as Charles Krauthammer reminded us in this Oct 2007 piece, also supported “amnesty”:

This president, renowned for his naps, granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants in the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill. As governor of California, he signed the most liberal abortion legalization bill in America, then flip-flopped and became an abortion opponent. What did he do about it as president? Gave us Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, the two swing votes that upheld and enshrined Roe v. Wade for the last quarter-century.

That piece is a good one to read, or re-read at a time when conservatives are so busy tearing down the Republican field (and yes, I’ve been guilty of that myself) that they fail to see what good qualities those candidates bring to the table. Krauthammer went on to say:

The point is not to denigrate Reagan but to bring a little realism to the gauzy idol worship that fuels today’s discontent. And to argue that in 2007 we have, by any reasonable historical standard, a fine Republican field: One of the great big-city mayors of the last century; a former governor of extraordinary executive talent; a war hero, highly principled and deeply schooled in national security; and a former senator with impeccable conservative credentials.

So why all the angst? If you’d like to share just a bit of my serenity, have a look at last Sunday’s Republican debate in Orlando. It was a feisty affair, the candidates lustily bashing each other’s ideological deficiencies — Mike Huckabee called it a “demolition derby” — and yet strangely enough, the entire field did well.

McCain won the night by acclamation with a brilliant attack on Hillary that not so subtly highlighted his own unique qualification for the presidency. Citing his record on controlling spending, he ridiculed Hillary’s proposed $1 million earmark for a Woodstock museum. He didn’t make it to Woodstock, McCain explained. He was “tied up at the time.”

How do you beat that? McCain’s message is plain: Sure, I’m old, worn and broke. But we’re at war. Who has more experience in, fewer illusions about, and greater understanding of war — and an unyielding commitment to win the one we are fighting right now?

Giuliani was his usual energetic, tough-guy self. He fended off attacks on his social liberalism with a few good volleys of his own — at Thompson, for example, for being a tort-loving accessory to the trial lawyers — and by making the fair point that he delivers a conservatism of results. His message? I drove the varmints out of New York City — with their pornography, their crime and their hookers (well, a fair number, at least). Turn me loose on the world.

Romney’s debate performance was as steady and solid and stolid as ever, becoming particularly enthusiastic when talking about the things he’s done — build a business, rescue the Winter Olympics, govern the most liberal state in the Union. He got especially animated talking about his Massachusetts health care reform, achieved by working with an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature. His message? I’m a doer, a problem solver, a uniter.

The point I’m trying to make is that no candidate is perfect, and that I know that McCain is considered the “least” perfect of them all. But in the end, we’ve got to look beyond our differences with whoever the Republican candidate eventually is and do head to head match ups with them to see who they would compare with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama on war on terror related issues. Medved’s question bears repeating: Who would you rather be at the helm of the ship in the middle of the war on terror? The guy who has been unwaveringly supportive on the issue of winning in Iraq and who understands that it is critical to the future success of the war on terror that we are victorious there, or the guy or gal who would let all the progress that has been made in Iraq go to waste, and allow our troops sacrifices be in vain by pulling the US out of Iraq before the mission has been completed? If we support the troops, doesn’t it stand to reason that we would support the candidate who understands what the cost of losing in Iraq would be, and who understands that our troops have fought so strongly, so bravely, and so proudly, and deserve to come home with honor and a sense of accomplishment?

There are so many other issues to consider beyond the Iraq issue but to me, that is the defining issue of this campaign. Even though McCain may irk conservatives on issues like immigration and campaign finance laws, his stance on Iraq as part of the overall global war on terror is solid. I think choosing this election to abandon support of the Republican party is reckless and dangerous. In the end, it is up to each of us to determine what is more important: deciding to sit out the election in order to “force” the party to run more “electable” conservative candidates in the future or going to the polls to vote in an effort to keep the successes in Iraq happening, in order for our troops to eventually be able to come home with dignity and honor, with the fruits of their labor in Iraq visible for the world to see for years – and decades – to come. For conservatives who believe we have no real conservative in the election, remember this: There will be other elections here, and other opportunities to push for that “real conservative” candidate; on the other hand, the opportunities for success in Iraq – and via extension the overall worldwide effort on terror – can’t and shouldn’t be put “on hold” just because the Republican candidate may not be the most idealistic choice.

Several months ago I was saying that if Rudy was the nominee I couldn’t see myself voting for him because of his stance on abortion. But I’ve come to conclusion that even Rudy is much better than the alternatives: A Socialista whose disdain for the military is well-chronicled, or a well-spoken but politically inexperienced liberal Democrat, whose dream of bringing “both parties together” underscores his real goal: getting a solidly liberal agenda passed with the help of Independents and moderate Republicans. And let’s not forget: Neither one of these candidates are concerned about the real possiblity of genocide taking place in Iraq should the US prematurely withdraw.

Yes, McCain is not the nominee, but in the event that he is chosen to be the nominee, I hope people will consider the arguments I’ve made at this blog about his candidacy, rather than focusing only on reasons to dislike McCain. The guy isn’t the anti-Christ, and, IMO, we shouldn’t treat him as such.

We could do worse, much worse. I hope it doesn’t come to that. This country doesn’t deserve it, and our troops certainly don’t. Most of us who supported the war in Iraq from the start are still committed today to wanting to see the US succeed there. Now is simply not the time to abandon that commitment. In fact, such commitments should never be abandoned.

Related: Will my prediction about Florida coming down to McCain and Romney come true? A new poll suggests that it might.

Update: CNN reported earlier today that Stormin’ Norman endorsed McCain, who lives in Florida, where the next Republican primary is set to take place on the 29th.

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