Friday, February 08, 2008

Gerson opines on McCain's "victory" over talk radio

Michael Gerson, ex-Bushie who coined the phrase "heroic conservatism" to rebrand the disaster of "compassionate conservatism", rambles incoherently in this WaPo/RCP piece.

Gerson begins with a bang:

The attacks of movement conservatives -- particularly the talk radio and blogging crowd -- on John McCain have reached a shrill, off-key crescendo. McCain is not only "dangerous" and "stupid," he has "contempt for his fellow humans." His opponents will refuse to vote in the general election, or even will campaign for Hillary Clinton. With McCain now almost the last man standing, it will be interesting to see how, or if, these pledges are fulfilled.

McCain is partly responsible for this state of affairs. Over the years, he has enjoyed poking angry bears with short sticks -- flirting with conversion to the Democratic Party and lashing out at Christian conservatives as "agents of intolerance."

If anybody is to be accused of poking angry bears with short sticks it is Gerson, who without any sense of irony continues to do so throughout the piece.

He continues [emphasis added]:
Immigration is not a simple political issue like crime; it is a complex political issue like affirmative action. Many Americans, and most Republicans, oppose affirmative action. But a candidate who makes this issue the emotional centerpiece of his or her campaign gains a taint of intolerance. The choice itself symbolizes a divisive approach to politics.
Here, Gerson appears to be arguing that by taking a principled view that is at odds with what some measurably large group of people thinks, one is inherently being "divisive". And of course "divisive" is code for "bad".

Was immigration ever any candidate's "emotional centerpiece"? It was certainly a point of contrast with McCain. If it was emotionally charged it was in reaction to the heavy handed no-amendments/no-debate amnesty approach by McCain et al, who were all too quick to call their fellow Republicans racists. It was McCain who started this fight.

The most pro-immigration Republican candidate is likely to be the Republican nominee -- not because his view on this topic prevailed, but because a strong, appealing presidential candidate does not target millions of men and women as a political strategy.
McCain won, in large part, for three reasons: the lack of a clear alternative candidate, the existence of several open and semi-open primary contests, and the arrangement of winner-take-all vs caucus contests that were originally devised to help tilt the table towards Giuliani.

And to wrap it all up in a cloak of "heroic" warm fuzzies:
But John McCain displayed the most ideological continuity with Bush's moral internationalism. McCain has argued that the "protection and promotion of the democratic ideal" is the "surest source of security and peace." He calls for a "League of Democracies" that would "relieve human suffering in places such as Darfur, combat HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, fashion better policies to confront environmental crises. ..." And McCain is one of the strongest Republican supporters (along with Huckabee) of the commitments of the bipartisan ONE Campaign to treat global AIDS, eradicate malaria, fight hunger and provide clean water in the poorest places on Earth. (By way of disclosure, I sit on the advisory board of ONE Vote '08.)

The ONE campaign is clearly advocating a large amount of international welfare. It would be one thing for the US to intervene in one-off crises or disasters, but a large-scale permanent welfare super-state is not at all a conservative sentiment. These people need infrastructure, the rule of law, and DDT. Not handouts and mosquito nets. Fix the disease, don't just treat the symptoms.

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