McCain conservatism not inconsistent

Published 8:31 pm Monday, February 11, 2008

By By John McCain
In July of 1968, eight months after John Sidney McCain III, was imprisoned by the North Vietnamese, his father, John Sidney McCain Jr., was named Commander-in-Chief of all United State’s forces in the Pacific. That development motivated the Vietnamese to offer their American enemies the younger McCain’s release, in an effort intended to both dispirit McCain’s fellow prisoners of war by demonstrating the importance of privilege in American society and appease the international community with an act of gracious humanity. But the younger McCain refused this deal and stayed behind with his fellow servicemen.
As elements of the conservative movement remain estranged from McCain’s presidential candidacy, one should consider: How many modern presidential candidates ever displayed patriotic devotion to this country to the extent John McCain has? As those same conservatives question McCain’s ideological impurities, they should also ask: What value should modern conservatism place on the characteristics of honor and duty that McCain’s life has displayed?
Now the presumed Republican nominee for this fall’s general election, John McCain has a resume unchallenged by any presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush and, before him, Dwight Eisenhower.
Given that U.S. soldiers will be deployed in a foreign war the day the next President is inaugurated, the importance of such qualifications should not be underestimated. George W. Bush’s successor will face a much more challenging environment upon taking office than George Bush did, because he or she will not have the eight months of on-the-job training the current President received before being forced to send soldiers into a foreign country. Whoever takes Bush’s place must be ready to lead on day one.
Of course, no serious conservatives doubt McCain’s war-fighting credentials and the overwhelming majority believe he would be a more capable commander-in-chief than any of his presidential rivals in either party.
If anyone is ready to lead on day one, it is McCain. Serious conservatives also do not doubt the dangers of Islamic extremism and the overwhelming majority believe it is the greatest threat our generation faces. Thus; if most conservatives feel that the war on terror is the defining struggle of this generation and those same conservatives feel McCain is the most capable war leader in the presidential race, why is their such a perceived disconnect between McCain and the members of the ideological movement that makes up the bulk of his party?
It could be McCain’s significant role in the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2001, which some conservatives feel placed unconstitutional limits on their freedom of speech. But such a politically insignificant issue is unlikely to cause politically serious rifts in the light of the daunting challenges we face, especially when the reform bill was signed by our sitting President who’s conservatism, although questionable, is rarely challenged.
It could be McCain’s support for comprehensive immigration reform and his acknowledgement that illegal aliens, too, “are all God’s children.” But McCain has said he understands that people do not want the government to deal with individuals already in our country illegally before we seal the boarders and ensure no new illegal immigrants migrate into our country. McCain has also pointed out that allowing the issue to go unaddressed amounts to “defacto amnesty,” with obviously significant national security risk.
Or it could be McCain’s opposition to the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. However, McCain has the support of prominent supply siders such as Steve Forbes, Jack Kempt and Phil Graham. He has been an avid supporter of free trade, called for eliminating the alternative minimum tax, reducing the corporate income tax, and extending the Bush tax cuts. He has reiterated that his opposition to those tax cuts was based on his belief in the need to pay for them with offsetting spending cuts.
Indeed, after carefully reviewing John McCain’s political positions, it appears that many of his supposedly conservative abominations are not inconsistent with principles once considered the cornerstone of the conservative movement. With an 82 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, conservatives averse to John McCain’s candidacy should be reminded of Ronald Reagan’s quote that his “eighty percent friend is not his twenty percent enemy.” Those conservatives should also cease viewing the perfect as the enemy of the good.
Tray Smith is a political columnist for the Atmore Advance. He is a student at Escambia County High School and can be reached at tsmith_90@

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