I have a creeping fear that in 2008 I may find myself in the utterly horrifying position of supporting McCain for president. I find McCain's signature domestic project of circumscribing political speech through campaign finance "reform" to be vicerally repugnant and downright un-American. On the other hand, there are two key qualities that I'm looking for in a Republican nominee in 2008: a serious commitment to a muscular foreign policy with political change in the Middle East as its lynchpin, and the ability to win the general election. On both counts, McCain threatens to tower over the GOP field. What a terrifying thought.
The Spectacle Blog
The New York Times’ lead piece on their web site right now, written by Maria Newman, provides a good distillation of how the use of the term “immigrant” has become an interchangeable term to describe both people who are here legally and those who are not. Her opening paragraph:
In rallies that appeared to be exceeding the expectations of organizers and the police, hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters marched today in more than 100 cities throughout the country, casting off the old fears of their illegal status to assert that they have a right to a humane life in this country.
To say nothing of that last line; if they didn’t think they would achieve a "humane life in this country," they wouldn't have come here in the first place.
John Fund in OpinionJournal today joins the lament about the implosion of the congressional GOP, as earlier discussed in this post. He, too, is correct. And Rich Lowry at NRO makes some good suggestions on the subject. But what it really comes down to is, as Morton Blackwell often argues, good principles ARE good politics. If we fight for our principles and explain them well, we win. All too often, elected officials spend so much time trying to figure out HOW to be popular, and what positions to take and how to spin those positions, that they don't realize that the public A) tends to agree, more often than not, with conservative principles and B) tends to respect officials more if they (the public) sense that the officials are acting out of conviction, even if they disagree with their stance, than if they think the officials are pandering.
To the great credit of the editorial board of the Washington Post, its Sunday editorial on Bush's declassification of some intelligence material is right on target. Actually, I was sitting for dinner with a college pal of mine this past weekend and he was ripping into Bush for the declassification and was incredulous that I was defending it. So I particularly appreciated the Post's editorial the very next day, because the Post said it far better than I had done the night before.
Two of the Wash Post's better reporters, Juliet Eilperin and Jim VandeHei, had a terrific article in Sunday's paper (plus a good op-ed the same day on a related topic), about how the House GOP lost its way and how its situation now parallels that of the Dems in 1994. (Matthew Continetti at the Weekly Standard also has a related piece out today, along with a new book on the same topic which has a main thesis that's pretty much on target even if it will take a closer read to determine if all of his particulars bear out; some particulars, mainly in one chapter, are disputed by some of the principals.) What Eilperin and VendeHei report tracks closely with what I've been writing for years, since at least 1997, most noticeably here.
It's a universal problem. Every couple of years, when times look tough, John McCain appears to be the answer. I thought so back in 2000. John Kerry thought so in 2004. And now many in the GOP think so for 2008. The New York Times reports that Jon Stewart's aghast at John McCain's political revolution (by which I mean, his political re-evolution). While McCain's triangulation on tax cuts and Jerry Falwell is alienating liberals, conservatives should still be suspicious.
Before I get into those reasons, let me say his record on the war has been superb. And he supported Bush against Kerry, for which conservatives should be grateful. Grateful enough to nominate him for president? I don't think so.
Three issues on which the senior senator from Arizona is all wet: global warming, campaign finance, and illegal immigration. These are huge. Granted, President Bush agrees with him on two out of three (he signed McCain-Feingold), but they're large issues nonetheless.
Juan Williams' "civil rights" strategy is novel. But it sounds like the total nonsense he might spout on Special Report or Fox News Sunday, only for the camera to turn to Brit Hume, whose jaw is hanging open in disbelief. Then, one by one, each commentator tells Juan his opinions don't reflect the the reality on the ground whatsoever.
Similarly, likening the illegal immigration movement to the civil rights movement might fly in a sophomore political science class, but not in a serious political discussion. It's absurd both in theory and in reality. First, theory: the civil rights movement was rectifying the law to comport with rights guaranteed in the Constitution. That is, all citizens should enjoy equal protection under the law. The movement against enforcement of current laws and gaining control of our borders is fundamentally opposed to the rule of law. They're demanding rights for illegal immigrants that, as both non-citizens and illegals, they just don't have. Whereas the civil rights movement looked to the Constitution to make its case, the illegal immigration movement (again, non-enforcement, open borders) cannot do so.
As usual, Jed, the consolation is that at least we're not France -- where Chirac and Villepin, for the trouble of trying to salvage the national economy, have been handed by le mob a most degrading and hopeless defeat. The head of that employment reform law now lolls in the basket of the guillotine. But our own susceptibility to mass protest -- and our paralysis in its leering face -- casts an ugly light, too: sovereignty is peeling away in the USA only less quickly than in France. I see a bad moon rising.
The huge demonstrations expected today in Washington and elsewhere are a form of intimidation that the Congress is almost sure to cave in to. And the rhetoric of the left is adapting to maximize its presumed advantage in this fight.
Juan Williams's op-ed in today's WaPo is a very important escalation in this political war. He characterizes the demonstrations as evidence of an Hispanic "civil rights" movement. Williams is painting the illegal immigrant protests with the most invulnerable and inviolable label in American politics. To say that the illegals are demanding civil rights now as the blacks did in the 1960s and 1970s is Williams's attempt to label any opponent of illegal immigration a racist. This is both false and libelous. Williams is guilty of more than just rhetorical excess. His column is nothing more than another attempt at intimidating the wobblies in Congress. And it may work.
Larry: The right to keep and bear arms was long since lost in the UK. It's a pity, but it's a dead issue there. The animal rights types have killed fox hunting and they're next on to shooting. Freedom of speech is dead there, and more and more freedoms dissolve as the EU sinks its claws into the economy. I love Britain and the Brits. But I couldn't live in a nation that so limits its peoples' freedoms.