In discussions surrounding the strong odds that John McCain will claim the Republican nomination for President, more than a few people have assumed that because I have not trashed his reputation and questioned his patriotism, that I am a supporter of McCain for President.
That assumption is not correct.
Texas will hold its Primary on March 4, 2008. At this time, I am not sure for whom I will be voting, much less whether I am ready to actively campaign for anyone still on the ticket. For the record, my present Top 10 ranking of candidates for my vote for President of the United States would be as follows:
1. Condoleezza Rice (most qualified, but refused to run)
2. Fred Thompson (speaks well, but refused to take the race seriously)
3. Jeb Bush (competent, articulate, conservative, but no one wants 3 Bushes in 4 Administrations)
4. My wife (qualified and eminently sensible, but she won’t run)
5. Me (no worse than any of the front-runners on any count)
6. My primary dog, Bingo (the cutest and smartest Collie since Lassie)
7. My back-up dog, Cody (Black Lab, is loyal, beautiful, and a talented comedian to boot)
8. Dick Cheney (the effect on Democrats alone would be worth the vote)
9. Ronald Reagan (if you’re going to send a message, noting that a dead conservative is better than a fake one should be clear)
10. Bruce Willis (probably the toughest real Republican still active)
Having said that, I am willing to consider voting for John McCain or Mike Huckabee, provided one of them can earn my vote. While I am not one of those screaming extremists who would pretend that a Democrat in the White House is anything but a catastrophe and a direct threat to the ideals of America, neither do I forget the offenses of McCain and Huckabee, offenses not to my sensibility but to my common sense.
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John McCain will not get my vote if his main claim is that he is the most ‘electable’ candidate. That was the Democrats’ strategy in 2004, to select a buffoon because they thought he would perform well in the General Election. It also occurs to me that John McCain supported John Kerry many times in 2004, a troubling behavior in a purported Republican, let alone a self-proclaimed Conservative. You need to explain why you chose the wrong side in 2004, Senator McCain.
John McCain needs to explain why he felt a hand-picked group in a back room should make decisions on judicial appointments, rather than let the Senate do its job. John McCain needs to explain, clearly, what justices he would nominate to the Supreme Court, and on what merits. And he needs to apologize, in public to Pickering, Estrada, Owens, and the others he trashed in the name of expediency and political advantage. John McCain needs to apologize for and fully repudiate McCain-Feingold. These are the starting points, not trivial details. I and other Conservatives have a right to demand bonafides from McCain, while he had no right to demand anything just because he enjoys the delegate lead right now.
As for Mike Huckabee, he too must answer questions. I am a fundamentalist Christian, which sometimes makes it difficult to speak to people of other beliefs. Too often self-proclaimed leaders of my faith engage in unchristian behavior, even in the name of their religion, and in so doing attack peace and respect rather than build on love for their fellow man. I would ask Huckabee to explain why he brought up his religion in such a self-serving way; it diminishes his credibility and my sense of his integrity, rather than increasing it. I would ask Huckabee to explain why, I he wants to be the Republican nominee, he insulted and attacked the Republican President’s foreign policy and the War in Iraq, especially when Huckabee’s demonstrated lack of comprehension in that area is so dismal. I want Huckabee to explain hwo he would sell the Fair Tax to Congress, and what he will do when they kill the bill on arrival. I want Huckabee to explain his tax hikes as Governor; raising the sales tax in 1996, supporting an Internet sales tax in 2001, and raising taxes on nursing home patients in 2001. How does this make him a ‘conservative’? The Cato Institute does not grade Huckabee a conservative, so where are his credentials? We Conservatives are outraged by spending; it’s one of the few areas where I disagree with President Bush. But Huckabee’s record as Governor included a 65% increase in state spending. How does that make him qualified to write the Federal budget? As Governor, Huckabee supported a higher minimum wage, and demanded ‘price-gouging’ investigations of oil companies. Huckabee’s credentials are in serious doubt, and I for one expect better answers from him if he wants my vote.
I had not previously mentioned Ron Paul. It is difficult to address just how far from rational his positions are, without giving them far more attention than they deserve. In short, however, his views on National Security show he is more in line with Michael Moore than Bill Roggio, his sense of the War in Iraq shows he is more in tune with Alec Baldwin than General Petraeus, and his views on the Economy show he is far more aligned with Karl Marx than Milton Friedman. At best, Congressman Ron Paul is sadly uneducated and misguided. At worst, he is dangerously unbalanced.
I said in earlier posts, that I think people should be aware of the likely consequences of their actions. I realize that even if I vote for McCain or Huckabee this fall, they may lose if I do not also actively campaign for them, that an unenthused vote may be of little value. Then again, I have also said clearly, that a candidate bears the weight of his campaign’s success or failure, that no one owes their vote to anyone. And as far as the Primary goes, right now writing in a vote for my dog looks like my most rational course. Mr. McCain and Mr. Huckabee are welcome, of course, to make a better case than they have so far.