Bush on McCain

The Washington Post‘s online headline really grabbed my attention this time:

Bush: McCain a ‘Conservative’

My immediate, involuntary reaction was, “How would he know?”

To be fair to the President, there is currently no consensus on what conservatism is all about. I’ve tried to suggest a few important elements of authentic conservatism on this blog from time to time, including

Of course, I very much doubt that President Bush reads this blog so it would certainly be unfair to assume he’s ever heard much about this brand of conservatism. In addition, some of these points are a little abstract, and I don’t think Mr. Bush does very well with abstractions; I sense a need for something more concrete with this president. So, with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, here are a few ways for people who don’t read much to figure out whether they’re conservatives.

If you’ve ever wanted to borrow $152 billion just so you could give it away . . . you might not be a conservative.

If you’ve ever wanted to launch a preemptive strike against an impoverished, overseas nation with no armed forces to speak of, on the ground that it constitutes a grave threat to our security . . . you might not be a conservative.

If you’ve ever been willing to put a U.S. citizen in solitary confinement without charges for three years . . . you might not be a conservative.

If you’ve ever pushed for a tax cut, a gigantic new entitlement program, and two foreign occupations at the same time . . . you might not be a conservative.

If you think tort reform and job training are such important federal issues that they belong in a State of the Union speech . . . you might not be a conservative.

If you’ve ever said that you intend to rid the world of evil-doers, and you meant it . . . you might not be a conservative.

If you’ve ever supported warrantless executive-branch wiretapping in direct contravention of a federal statute . . . you might not be a conservative.

Is McCain a conservative? It seems to me mavericks are by definition not conservative. There have been times in the past six years when McCain has seemed to me to take the conservative position against Bush (on torture, for example), but if there has been any unifying principle that explains when he departs from party orthodoxy, I have not yet discerned it. No hurry; there will be much more time to figure out how conservative McCain is, if indeed he is the Republican nominee. Right now all I know is that I’m certainly not going to take President Bush’s word for who counts as a conservative.

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2 Responses to “Bush on McCain”

  1. Mike Harmon Says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Mike Harmon

  2. Timothy Peach Says:

    This is a legitimate topic.

    Here’s where I come out on the debate right now: I don’t care any more what makes one a “conservative”. If kowtowing to the radio nitwits is required to be one, count me out. If I were driving in town and saw Ann Coulter walking on the sidewalk, I’d start knocking over parking meters to try to run her over.

    Just despicable, stupid ranting all winter from the conservatards.

    Bush is no conservative. He’s a populist. I never held that against him. His being an unrelenting (and more importantly, unrepenting) idiot is what finally soured me on him.

    Your rant against Bush above seems a little lefty to me, but embedded in all that is some grain of truth about Bush’s abandonment of “conservative principles”. I just don’t care what those are any more.

    I have a list of positions now that I’ll no longer bother to try to classify, and I’ll likely be voting for the person who, to be honest, aligns better with me, but my primary screen will be integrity. Is this person a statesman? Is this person willing to lose the election by holding fast to honestly-held positions?

    If you’re young and conservative, you have no soul. If you’re old and liberal, you have no brain. But if you’re any age and find you align neatly with either party, you have no right to be voting. You’re simply neither thinking nor paying attention.


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