McCain Agonistes

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)

18 thoughts on “McCain Agonistes”

  1. Earth to Hanson:
    What makes you think McLame cares a bleep about conservatives? He doesn’t need ’em to win. He knows it.

  2. The problem with a Pyrrhic victory is that it’s short-sighted, masquerading an ultimate defeat.
    Thermopylae was a battlefield defeat that feels like a victory because it inspired a subsequent lasting and real victory. McCain is no Leonidas, selflessly and bravely fighting for conservatism. Instead, he appeases and accommodates to the enemy’s agenda.
    Just because it’s unpalatable, let’s not bury our heads in the sand and rationalize the reality. The choice in November will be between fast- or turbo-track socialism, y mi no me gusta ni el socialismo, ni la pasta, ni McCain!

  3. Ok, so conservatism is dead, in the Reagan sense of the word. It is also dead as far as McCain is concerned. So, do we just stay home and not vote in protest of the death of conservatism or do we make sure that Hillary and Obama don’t bury it and take the country with it? We have to win, and hope that if it’s with McCain, that he will have a hell of a cabinet to ensure that he makes good decisions.
    I actually like Romney as VP and Rudy as Attorney General.
    Another reason to keep the Dems out is the thought of the Breck girl as Attorney General.

  4. Guys if McCain is the nominee, it’s not going to matter whether we mobilize every single conservative and get them to the polls. The American people when confronted with candidates with similar policies from both parties will choose the real article. McCain will not beat an Clinton/Obama ticket which is what I think we’re going to see.
    I’m still hoping against hope that Romney can do well enough in enough Super Tuesday states to reach the final stretch where it should be him against McCain without Huckabee running interference anymore.

  5. So this is where we are. Not voting for someone, but against someone. I am so sick of settling for the lesser of two evils as a Republican. I will not vote for Romney in any case. Yes that means not voting. If McCain is there I will hold my nose and think of it as liberal-lite. I really don’t see any other candidates having a chance. But Super Tuesday will reveal that once and for all.

  6. Cancel that McCain vote. Shwarzenegger is looking at endorsing McCain. If McCain ain’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing nobody is. I may have to sit out the election.

  7. Henry-
    You have been following presidental election trends for years so let me ask you this- what do you think the chances are of Romney beating a Clinton/Obama ticket? Or just Clinton ticket. (This is a serious question, I’m not trying to be snide.)

  8. Claudia,
    Here’s how I plan to deal. First off, since I no longer have a dog in the fight, I’m going to stick a Limbaugh/Coulter bumper sticker on my car.
    Then I’ll sit back and enjoy watching the MSM betray McCain, not because of his views, but because he’ll be the Republican nominee. On the eve of election day, I’ll buy two Sam Adams Boston Lager six packs, and drink one on election day, hoping that with beer goggles the name in the Republican field will look like “Ronald Reagan”. (Guys, I’ll need a designated driver to drive me to the polls.) I’ll drink the other six pack that evening to mourn the result.

  9. Claudia,
    Romney came real close to defeating Kennedy in Massachusetts. Nation-wide, he would have stood an even better chance, especially against someone as divisive and hated as Hillary.

  10. Claudia, to answer your question it’s impossible to know how any Republican candidate would do against either of the Dem candidates this far out from the general election.
    Rudy Giuliani was the “unbeatable” candidate a year ago. 4 months ago, Fred Thompson was leading in the polls in South Carolina.
    That’s why I can’t swallow the “electability” argument for McCain or any other candidate.
    I do know this, in marketing you try to differentiate yourself from your competitors. If you are burger king you don’t beat McDonald’s by saying “our new burger” is just like their burger.

  11. Limbaugh/Hannity is the real deal!
    P.S. I don’t really like Ann Coulter. I think her sometimes out of place comments don’t do conservatism any favor.

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