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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pap and twaddle from Broder: McCain should save GOP from "extremism"

I can't remember the last time I read anything in a David Broder column that I agreed with, and his op-ed in today's WaPo — which calls upon John McCain to provide "adult leadership ... for both his party and his country" — is no exception.

Broder argues that "[o]ne of the conspicuous failings in the past few years has been the absence of a second party making principled decisions on when to support and when to oppose the president." That's patently untrue: It's only GOP support for Obama's continuance of most of George W. Bush's GWOT policies that have kept the Dems from reprising what they did to this country, our allies, and the rest of the world starting in 1974-1975, when they condemned South Vietnam to a brutal and deadly Communist takeover. And the support Obama has gotten from the GOP is not due to leadership from John McCain or anyone else in particular, but because the GOP rank and file in both chambers of Congress understand that a combination of self-abasement and cutting-and-running is the worst possible response to any enemy, certainly including our Islamofascist ones.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and wife greet supporters after 2010 GOP primary win. (Fair use photo credit: The Arizona Republic)There are many positive things that can be said of John McCain, and I'm pretty sure I said them all, many times each, after he'd locked up the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. But 2008 was a year of extraordinarily weak GOP candidates. And the fact that McCain survived a strong primary challenge in 2010 after getting blown out in a presidential election in 2008 doesn't suddenly convert him from an old senator into an elder statesman. Like John Kerry, he's an embarrassingly bad former-nominee who just keeps hanging around the Senate; he gets exactly the respect there which he's due, which is not "none," but which means that nobody else there is much inclined to follow his lead just because of who he is (or was).

I believe in the two-party system even when it's sputtering, and while I never had any illusions about McCain's ample flaws, neither did I ever entertain any illusions that any of the non-GOP alternatives might have been remotely acceptable. (Hillary & Hubby might have turned out slightly better than Obama has, but only slightly, and at what cost in sleaze?) Of the bunch who'd sought the GOP nomination along with McCain, Fred Thompson was by far my favorite, but Fred had nowhere near enough of the proverbial fire in the belly. As a result, he got in too late, and he didn't run nearly hard enough to make up for McCain's advantage (as the runner-up from 2000) in the front-loaded winner-take-all set of early GOP primaries. But Fred was my favorite in substantial part because he was the only major GOP candidate who actually had a long-demonstrated commitment to core conservative principles. As a naval aviator John McCain had the tenacity and courage to resist his North Vietnamese torturers, but as a politician he's too often succumbed to the superficial allure of liberal pap and twaddle.

I'm a big-tent Republican, meaning I welcome the vote and the support of even those voters whose only agreement with me is that an opposing Democratic candidate is, for whatever reason, worse. But welcoming people into the tent isn't the same as pitching the tent's center-pole on unstable ground, which is what we did in 2008: Against the tsunami of willful self-delusion that propelled Obama into office — and welcome back, by the way, all of you whose eyes have been re-opened, you who persuaded yourself (although you should have known better) that all that "tax and spend/redistribute the wealth/blame America first" stuff was just empty GOP rhetoric instead of fundamental Obama dogma — we put up a Republican Lite. We needed instead, as we always need, to offer the voters a full-bodied Reagan-style Republican. And there just wasn't one of those available in 2007-2008.

It's the nature of cycles — political, economic, or otherwise — that there are bad times punctuating the good. We can only fully appreciate Reagan's greatness, for example, by contrasting him with his disastrous predecessor, Jimmy Carter. And so too it may take the horrors of Obama to prepare the nation to appreciate and embrace another genuinely conservative leader from the Grand Old Party in 2012.

I don't know who that will be yet. But I'm very, very sure that David Broder's instinct — which is to implore the Grumpy Old Warrior from Arizona (via the Canal Zone and the U.S. Navy) to lead his fellow Republicans to politely acquiesce in the ongoing Democratic rape of our national economy and our international self-abasement before our enemies — is bonkers. Broder's suggestion that we somehow need McCain to save the GOP from "an experiment in extremism" — meaning a return to Reagan Republicanism — gave me the best belly-laugh I've had all week. You want to talk "extremism," I'll show you some genuinely extreme extremism:

Updated (as of Feb 2010) chart from the Heritage Foundation, based on source data from OMB and CBO

Posted by Beldar at 07:33 PM in 2008 Election, 2012 Election, Congress, McCain, Obama, Politics (2010) | Permalink


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(1) nk made the following comment | Aug 25, 2010 8:41:55 PM | Permalink

McCain did not have the fire in his belly either, Beldar.

The way he got suckered by Obama -- McCain accepting public financing while Obama rejected it and spent ten times as much as him -- is hiding your face in your sleeve embarassing.

And don't start me on the way Sarah Palin was wasted. Even though I have my criticisms of her, the biggest problem was that she did not get the help she needed from the Arizona deadwood.

(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Aug 26, 2010 3:15:42 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Holy cow. To my horror, I find that you've become a closet Reagan hater, with lines such as:

a) "We needed instead, as we always need, to offer the voters a full-bodied Reagan-style Republican. "

being throttled and murdered by:

b) "...policies that have kept the Dems from reprising what they did to this country, our allies, and the rest of the world starting in 1974-1975, when they condemned South Vietnam to a brutal and deadly Communist takeover."

Here's your choice:

a) America can stick with the Vietnam cause in the manner described by Mark Moyar with a possibility---no more---of winning.

b)Or, Ronald Reagan can be elected President.

Pick one. These choices are mutually exclusive. Howling against the Democrats for cutting off aid in 1974-75 is howling against Reagan's election, not just in 1980, but at any time.

This may not be immediately evident, but a little thought will show you that Vietnam was a cause that wasn't worth the price. The Moyar view, that America could have persevered, and won the conflict, does not address the price inherent in such an effort. To take one example: does anyone doubt that the North Vietnamese would have continued to try to conquer the South. Even if the South Vietnamese had done all the land fighting, American air and naval power would have been necessary to back up the South Vietnamese. That means men like John McCain would continue to either a) be shot down and captured by a country with which America was offically at peace or b) be shot down and killed by a country etc. No Democratic President could have followed such a course. Only a GOP President could---but that GOP Prez would have been trapped by Vietnam, unable to do what Reagan did. Reagan could not have made his famous Evil Empire speech if dozens of American military men were being killed each month in a conflict that seemingly had no end. Even if he had, the great silent majority would have been in no temper to listen to it, but would have tuned it out, leaving the liberal bigots in the intelligentsia to mock Reagan. Nor could Reagan have deployed the Pershing cruise missiles in Europe in the 1908s. Liberal bigotry would have stopped it, screaming Vietnam, Vietnam.

Consider this: in all of Reagan's presidency, he never heeded a briefing on Vietnam, its troubles and the deaths associated with them. Conversely, all of Reagan's counterparts in the USSR---Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, and Gorbachev---all had to face regular briefings on the fighting in Afghanistan, a conflict seemingly without end. The Soviet leaders had to carry that burden for eight years. Reagan did not have to carry the burden of Vietnam in that same time. He was free to pursue the far more important goal of defeating Soviet Communism. He succeeded far beyond the most sanguine expectations in the climate of 1981.

Vietnam was an American tragedy. What happened to the Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians in 1974-76, was a world tragedy, a tragedy that has permanently stained the American record. The price these peoples paid and still pay, for this failure is appalling. But attempting to erase the stain by "winning" in Vietnam is spectacularly wrongheaded. I can't agree that sacrificing Reagan just so the United States would never have lost a war, is worth the price. The notion that because American aims in Vietnam were noble, the actions were justifiable, even to the point of continiuing the struggle, is silly. Lyndon Johnson's aims in the War on Poverty were noble. Do they justify the reflexive doubling down on the programs, expending ever more money, and social fabric in the hope of finally triumphing/

It's often painful to try seeing things clearly. But it's better than trying to live a delusion, a delusion that would sacrifice all other efforts toward other goals.

This is quite a ways off your original post. Let me close by agreeing with you that there's no Reaganesque candidate in view today. Perhaps there wasn't even in 1980. What I think the citizenry can do is stick to the values of Reaganism, and creat a climate where they can flourish. The Tea Partiers are working mightily to that end, right far more often than they are wrong. This gives me hope that 2012 will yet see the reversal of The One's policies.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(3) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Aug 26, 2010 3:17:43 AM | Permalink

Yipe! I mean of course, Reagan never NEEDED a briefing on Vietnam

(4) Paul_In_Houston made the following comment | Aug 26, 2010 11:22:46 AM | Permalink

I've said this before in many places, probably even here. So, here I go repeating myself...

What disgusts me most about the current GOP leadership is that when someone (Sara Palin, Jan Brewer, The Tea Party protesters) stands up to the administration, instead of supporting them this "leadership" runs for cover.

From my post "the bottom line" ...
And, do not excuse yourself with George Wallace’s 1968 assertion that, of the two parties, "There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between them!"

There truly is a difference; the type of arrogant snots who feel they must control every aspect of our lives (because we’re too damned stupid to do so ourselves) seem to infest the Democratic party far more than they do the Republican party.

That difference is worth preserving, worth fighting for. Always!

But especially during the Nov 2010 elections.

I believe, to the bottom of my soul, that difference to be fundamental, and feel that it is present in the Tea Party movement and in the candidates they support.

My greatest fear of the political elites in the GOP leadership is that they will do (and apparently are doing) their level best to erase that difference; as if they're ashamed of it.

(5) nk made the following comment | Aug 26, 2010 11:54:40 AM | Permalink

I live in Illinois and have no illusions about our GOP. We will find more decent and honest Democrats than Republicans.

But it's Illinois. ~_~ We will have two governors sent to prison seriatim.

(6) Dark Jethro made the following comment | Aug 26, 2010 11:42:33 PM | Permalink

"Pick one. These choices are mutually exclusive. Howling against the Democrats for cutting off aid in 1974-75 is howling against Reagan's election, not just in 1980, but at any time. "

Wow. What an elaborate waste of ink.

Did you learn your version of history in college? You should demand your money back.

Here's a Question for you: How many US combat troops were fighting in Vietnam when it fell?

A: None.

The US had beaten N. Vietnam to a truce and withdrawn. The only thing keeping the North at bay was the threat of further American involvement. The support Dem's cut off in 1974-75 basically gave the green light to Soviet-supported North Vietnam to invade - the US was not coming back. Those that suffered from the resulting blood bath know full well who caused it.

So, the real question is whether the boy wonder would abandon the Iraqis and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, like his Comrades did in 1974, if the Republicans in Congress were not there?

Again, a flawed argument. The Republicans can't stop anything in congress at this point, so there is nothing keeping O from keeping his campaign promise of bringing all the troops home to keep them "safe."

So why hasn't he? And, why has the professional left been content to live with a battle plan, and withdrawal schedule, negotiated and drawn up by the hated bushitler? In fact, he has increased the use of unreliable, wedding party and innocent civilian killing, drones that Obama loudly condemned Bush for using.

The silence is deafening.

What any of this has to do with McCain is another mystery.

(7) David made the following comment | Aug 27, 2010 12:25:55 AM | Permalink

Message from Rebel Left Alliance:

"Help us Obi-Wan McCain--you're the only one who can save us!"

(8) Drew made the following comment | Aug 27, 2010 5:32:50 AM | Permalink

As I understand it, the reason McCain won is because 1) he spent a great deal more money and 2) he lied about his past compromises and promised to abandon his old non-conservative ways. The leftists who get their hopes up about public opinion based on McCain's win are simply in denial.

(9) M. Report made the following comment | Aug 27, 2010 9:24:00 AM | Permalink

@Drew: The McCain strategy was to spend, lie about himself,
and lie about his opponent; The campaign was 100% negative.

(10) Ellie Light made the following comment | Aug 31, 2010 1:48:14 AM | Permalink

I have no doubt that McCain will revert to the integrity and principled stands he has always taken that places him on the same level as Barney Frank and Specter.

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