Media Matters

Not Staying Home

Conservatives are down but not out.

By 2.5.08

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If you're like me, you're probably sitting around somewhere in the dark, trying your best to avoid all forms of media coverage of the 2008 presidential primary season. Maybe for the first time in years, you eschewed the weekend talk shows, even Fox News. And except for the crossword puzzle or the sports section, you probably refused to even open your Sunday paper, especially if it is a liberal fish-wrap like the AP-infested publication in my hometown.

Yes, if you're anything like me you are sick of seeing headlines touting the inevitability of a John McCain nomination and tired of hearing how conservatism is dead and that its adherents had just better realize it and roll over. You've had it with pundits, liberal and conservative alike, who pompously quote polls like bad Shakespearian actors in an effort to influence, rather than report so-called popular opinion.

How the devil did we get here? We knew this election cycle was going to be a new experience, since Dick Cheney declared years ago that he was not interested in moving up the presidential ladder, but we thought we were in good shape. Going into the 2006 mid-term elections, GOP fortunes were still bright; George Allen seemed poised for re-election to the Senate and probably the 2008 presidential nod.

Then came Macaca-gate and the sickening spectacle of a proud conservative bowing in the face of liberal hand-wringing and pressure. Had Allen simply good-naturedly shook off the whole controversy -- a la Ronald Reagan's "the bombing begins in five minutes" gaffe -- or refused to apologize as did George W. Bush in the "Clymer" incident, he'd probably be well on his way to the White House right now. Sadly, that is not the case.

Instead, we are left with a depressing scenario; a sort of death-watch, waiting for the horribly self-fulfilling prophesies of the media to manifest themselves. And it seems as if -- as they almost did in 2000 when certain networks called Florida for Al Gore in order to depress Panhandle voting there -- they are again basically telling conservatives to stay home, that their votes won't matter.

BUT IT DOESN'T have to be that way. While there are still too many moderates in the fold, most Republicans yet realize that the base of the party is grounded fairly well to the right. So much so, that our last presidential loser, Bob Dole, has stepped into the fray asking Rush Limbaugh to go easy on McCain for the good of the party should he gain the nomination.

If the power of the right was indeed waning, would Senator Dole feel compelled to issue such a letter? More to the point, why does McCain feel it necessary to put in an appearance with the conservative base at CPAC this week?

As for me, I'll support whichever Republican wins the nomination, but Mitt Romney seems to be the one saying all the right things right now. I know he is only a recent convert, yet it is clear that although Romney may be the entity you don't know, John McCain is certainly the one you do. There are, however, those who will refuse to support Romney because he once was, or is still, a liberal.

Of course, some of them who are not old enough to actually remember Ronald Reagan would have similarly castigated the formerly-Democratic Gipper himself on certain issues like abortion. These folks would do well to remember the words of the Dutchman concerning the pitfalls of a slash-and-burn approach to politics:

When I began entering into the give and take of legislative bargaining in Sacramento, a lot of the most radical conservatives who had supported me during the election didn't like it. "Compromise" was a dirty word to them and they wouldn't face the fact that we couldn't get all of what we wanted today. They wanted all or nothing and they wanted it all at once. If you don't get it all, some said, don't take anything.

If you got seventy-five or eighty percent of what you were asking for, I say, you take it and fight for the rest later, and that's what I told these radical conservatives who never got used to it.


Wise advice from a wise man. Word is that Mitt Romney is making great strides in California, and if he can pick off a few more Super Tuesday states, by the time you read this the race may have evened up. If not, we'll have to live with nominee John McCain and hope that a win for him in November would at least result in a strong national defense and maybe a few crucial and competent judicial appointments. Either way, we should refuse to be beaten down by our betters in the media and hand the White House over to the Democrats; a disaster which would afford us no hope at all.

It just may be that the media don't know everything, nor can they predict everything, even if they have ascribed to themselves that mystical power. Conservatives need to look at themselves in the mirror and figure out the consequences of "staying home," either because they've heard the primary race is all but over, or worse, on November 4th.

In any case, we can always cheer ourselves up by enjoying a little Schadenfreude at the expense of our opposition. It seems not all Democrats are exactly thrilled with the media's idea of the inevitability of Mr. & Mrs. Clinton's return to the White House either. Misery loves company.

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About the Author

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut (mailbox@lisafab.com).