Victor Davis Hanson of National Review’s The Corner wrote his take on yesterday’s Florida victory and what McCain needs to do woo the conservative base of the Republican Party:
I pray that John McCain can rally the base — since whatever anger conservatives hold toward him should pale in comparison to the specter of 16 years of the Clintons or Barack Obama’s European-style democratic socialism (with John Edwards as a possible attorney general). His acceptance speech seemed designed to do just that by references to tough judges, magnanimity shown his rivals, the evocation of conservatism, and a promise to stick to its principles, and I expect that will continue.
He might also:
–Either overtly or privately assure conservatives that his vice presidential pick will be a base conservative — someone, for example, like Fred Thompson. A possibility at a future date would be to consider the arch-rival Romney (in the manner that Reagan selected the younger bitter rival “voodoo economics” George Bush) as a VP candidate (especially key, given McCain’s age and Romney’s robustness).
–Drop the names of the sorts of Cabinet appointments he might make — Rudy Giuliani as attorney general, Joe Lieberman as secretary of defense, Romney as secretary of treasury, etc.
–Meet head on with the Right media — go on with Hannity, Rush, etc., talk with National Review, etc. — and take the blows and acknowledge past differences, occasional rifts, and promise conservative principles — and do so in a gracious manner
–Stress the common adversary, especially the far left-agenda voiced by Obama and Edwards, and the reprehensible tactics of the Clintons.
–Seek out more piling-on with Republican-establishment endorsements, which is a real likelihood given the human propensity to align with a perceived winner. Expect Thompson to fall in line soon.
A final note: Conservatives who are skeptical of McCain should realize that their reconciliation with him should be easier than that of moderates and independents with Clinton. The former disagrees over ideology, but considers McCain a principled person and a hero; the latter have no problem with Clinton’s politics, but are quite repelled by the lack of character and principles shown by Billary.
I would expect National Review to continue with its endorsement and promotion of Mitt Romney, but also I anticipate that should McCain win, and I think that he will, NR will rally to unify behind the nominee whom the Clintons rightly fear.
—Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
(H/T Wife of Pitbull)