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February 11, 2008
Don’t Like Your Candidate, Republicans? Democrats Understand, and Laugh
So let's say Super
Tuesday lived up to its billing: The Democratic votes and delegates were
split almost directly 50/50 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama,
indicating that their battle will continue well into the spring. The
Republican race, on the other hand, all but ended – with John McCain,
much to the consternation of the conservative establishment, essentially
securing the nomination.
And so today, in early
February, nine months before general Election Day – barring an unlikely
last-minute Huckabee surge – the United States is assured of having an
at-least-adequate president. Whether the president we have is great, or
merely good, will be determined in time – but after seven years of
George W. Bush in office and not very much good news, Super Tuesday was
a good day.
I'm a center-left
liberal who supports Barack Obama and believes he could be both a great
president and a transformative figure in national politics. I may not
support Hillary Clinton, but I do think that if she governs much the way
her husband did, she won't be bad at all. And while I disagree with
McCain on much, I feel he's a man of integrity whom I respect very much
– and had he been president from 2001-2005, instead of Bush, I feel like
we would be much better off today.
Yes, this is quite an
improvement over 2004 when, even early in the primary process, I found
myself not liking any of the candidates of either party. And yes, I
realize that one of the reasons the right-wing establishment distrusts
McCain is that people like me like him.
The last serious
candidate with a shot to muck things up Bush-style, Mitt Romney, broke
lots of right-leaning hearts when he dropped out of the race Thursday
and, with his usual class, gave a Cheney-like speech in which he
essentially argued that if the Democrats win, we're all gonna die.
however, did not constitute even the most nonsensical or most loathsome
speech of last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in
Washington. Both those honors go to President Bush, who argued to
thundering applause – while war continues to rage abroad and recession
continues to creep up at home – that our “peace and prosperity” will be
imperiled if a Democrat is elected to the White House. Like Orwell said,
“War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.”
But that's all the red
meat that crowd will be getting for awhile. Let the 2008 Republican
primaries be a lesson of what happens when one particular faction
reaches the point when it is uncomfortable getting anything less than
absolutely everything it wants – and none of the candidates running are
remotely capable of giving it to them.
movement decided long ago that it would never accept anything less than
a candidate in the tradition of their hero Ronald Reagan, both in
ideology and in electability. Unfortunately for the GOP, however, each
of the candidates running had something wrong with him that made him
ineligible to be that man – and besides, in the divided America of the
21st Century, a landslide of Reagan-Mondale proportions is unlikely to
ever occur again.
It’s really a shame for
the Republicans that the one candidate who would have been sufficiently
conservative, sufficiently electable, and sufficiently able to unite the
party was all but prohibited from running. As Noemie Emery wrote in the
Weekly Standard this week, if Jeb Bush’s name were Jeb Jones,
McCain likely would have dropped out months ago.
But instead, he's
almost certainly the nominee, and unlike the left in the last two
elections, it's now the right having an argument with itself over
whether it can wholeheartedly support its anointed candidate. Once we've
reached the point where Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity are arguing with
each other on national television over whether a conservative should
vote for Hillary Clinton against John McCain, liberals can do little
more than sit back, smile and chuckle uproariously.
So sorry, Republicans –
you're going to have to get used to 1) not really liking your own
candidate; and 2) losing. The Democrats long ago made peace with
occasionally having to do both.
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