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Now here’s where things get a little cloudy. Let’s say that McCain’s strengths somehow win the day, and that he actually is elected president. If that happens, then as a conservative I expect to be intermittently frustrated by President McCain’s issue positions, his bullheadedness, and his personnel choices.
But I also expect to be often inspired by his patriotism and reassured by his flinty, Goldwaterite proclivities as well.
The net result might be no worse than, and maybe a little better than, a holding pattern. Think Gerald Ford or Dwight Eisenhower, only with admirably fiercer opposition to big spending — and, incredibly importantly, with judicial choices, at all levels of the federal courts, no worse than the annoying Sandra Day O’Connor or Anthony Kennedy and at least occasionally as good as Sam Alito.
I HAVE BEEN particularly critical of McCain on judicial issues, but the simple fact is that McCain’s instincts, even if not deep interests, are on the correct side on judges, whereas every single judge nominated by Barack Obama would make O’Connor and Kennedy look like bastions of originalism and strict construction.
I can’t stress enough just how important this is. I truly believe the subject of judges today is as important as was the subject of the Constitution itself in 1787 and 1788 when state conventions were deciding whether to ratify the new Constitution and Hamilton, Madison and Jay were writing the Federalist Papers in its favor. The words with which Hamilton began the very first Federalist Paper are exactly appropriate for the battle over the judiciary today. Those opening words (or actually, the opening after an introductory clause addressing the essay to the people of New York) were, and I directly quote:
“The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than…the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”
The reality is that if on policy overall this country can at least maintain a holding pattern, backed by judges who don’t legislate all sorts of trendy and incredibly dangerous tommyrot from the bench, then we as conservatives will have the time to identify and nurture new leaders, and lots of them, who will carry forward this grand experiment of republicanism. (That’s small “R” republicanism, and perhaps large “R” Republican as well if good people like you are effective.)
The ranks of such potential leaders are right now not deep enough, but the good news is that they aren’t empty. You won’t recognize all of them, but without descriptions, let me just give you some names to remember, both from elective office and from the judiciary: Chris Cox. Paul Ryan. Mike Pence. Bobby Jindal. Sarah Palin. Marsha Blackburn. Jeb Hensarling. Jeff Sessions. John Kasich. Rob Portman. Jim DeMint. John Shadegg. Bill Pryor. Allison Eid. Diane Sykes. Brett Kavanaugh. Thad McCotter. John Cornyn. Tom McClintock. Steve Poizner. Steve Scalise. Jeff Fortenberry. Tim Walberg. And, who knows, maybe even (Mobile’s U.S. Rep.) Jo Bonner.
THE POINT IS THAT our bench isn’t empty. Not by any means. And the fact is that these are still the United States of America. We survived from November 22 of 1963 until January 20 of 1981 with three of the worst presidents in American history in LBJ, Nixon and Carter — interrupted by one brief, mild if unspectacular interregnum known as Gerald Ford.
That’s 15 out of 17 years of horrendously flawed leaders, all while thousands of nuclear warheads were aimed our way by a hostile and expansionist power and while crime and social upheaval marred our own streets.
Even that situation under LBJ, Nixon, and Carter might not be as bad as the combination of a President Obama with a Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid or Leader Hillary Clinton — I’m not sure we could survive that! — but our survival during those 17 years certainly tells us we can, by comparison, absolutely thrive under a nobly motivated John McCain even when he is plain wrong and sometimes irascible.
We will survive and thrive because this is, after all, still the nation that just celebrated its birthday while firmly knowing that we still are entitled by the laws of nature and of nature’s God… to unalienable rights… secured by the consent of the governed… and guarded by our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online