As John McCain seems all but certain to be the Republican presidential nominee, self-described conservatives seem to have nothing but uncertainty, and even downright hatred, for the Arizona senator. Citing collusion with Democrat Ted Kennedy to promote amnesty for illegal aliens, his teaming up with Democrat Russ Feingold to promote campaign finance reform, and voting against President Bush's tax cuts, most of talk radio does not consider McCain a genuine Republican, much less a conservative. I agree.
Despite occasional conservative rhetoric, McCain's record is that of a political insider who is completely comfortable with big government and the power it affords — which makes him no different from George W. Bush and every other Republican who ran for president this year, with the exception of Ron Paul.
So why is McCain so hated? The McCain-Kennedy amnesty proposals were also endorsed and promoted even more passionately by Bush. Republicans who consider McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform an affront to the first amendment have no problem with other constitutionally-questionable legislation like the Patriot Act and applaud Bush for sponsoring it.
As for McCain opposing the Bush tax cuts, no serious critique of Washington waste is worth listening to without addressing spending. McCain has at least pointed this out — Bush has not — and a Republican president has now left this nation with the largest federal budget and deficit in American history.
On the two issues McCain is most known for — amnesty for illegal aliens and support for the Iraq war — McCain has either supported Bush or been even more zealous than the president. Sean Hannity considers Bush one of our greatest presidents for fighting the War on Terror, and yet he doesn't have a kind word for McCain, who blatantly promises even more war, with U.S. troops stationed overseas for "100 years" or more.
In talk radio la-la land, where American greatness is measured exclusively by extending our global military presence infinitely, one would think McCain might be the perfect "Captain America" to capture a man like Hannity's heart.
So what is McCain's great sin? That's simple. He occasionally votes against his own party. Like a pack of gangsters, the Republican Party might have little use for principle, but will exact vengeance against anyone who dares to go against the family. On government growth and illegal immigration alone, Bush is arguably one of the most liberal presidents in American history — but he's a Republican, or "familia."
In a political world where an us-versus-them mentality has replaced policy discussions based on whether a proposal is good or bad, the hatred of McCain by conservatives has more to do with emotion than any political disagreements. As Michael Corleone said to his brother Fredo, "Don't ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever." Of course, Fredo ended up with a bullet in the back of the head.
Will McCain ultimately get shot down by his own party? Probably not, and for the same reason so many Republicans now hate the senator — party loyalty. As a Republican, even McCain will be considered better than a Democrat, whether it be Barack Obama or, even worse in their eyes, Hillary Clinton.
Will big government end anytime soon? Nope. Just last week our Republican president offered up a $150 billion "stimulus package," that has since been saddled with an additional $50 billion in pork barrel spending. That's $200 billion in rebates with tax money our federal government does not have. This sort of governing is what you can expect from the next president, whether Republican or Democrat.
Will our foreign policy remain the same? You can count on it. And although it would likely be worse under McCain, even Hillary Clinton has promised we will still have troops in Iraq until 2013; it's worth noting that she receives more donations from defense contractors than any Republican.
This is the sad state of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Even in electoral victory, nothing is ever won, and the rank-and-file seem content with the same fruitless charade every four years. If as a Republican you fit this mold, yet still can't stand McCain, rest assured that his administration won't be much different from Bush's, if that is what you indeed desire.
After all, the most important thing is that McCain is a Republican and he's not Hillary, right? Right?
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.