As I've said before, I totally understand why conservatives support ousting Sen. John McCain, but I don't understand why any conservative would want to defend J.D. Hayworth. I hadn't intended to say much more about the matter than I did last week, but in view of Quin's continued defenses of Hayworth on the blog, I feel compelled to respond.
For one thing, Quin suggests that Hayworth is a "solid conservative" despite caving into the demands of the party bosses and voting in favor of Bush's big government agenda. But I would argue that a key test of whether somebody is a true conservative is whether he is willing to choose conservative principles over the demands of the party. Yet as Matt Lewis summarized:
Hayworth's support of Bush's big-government polices included voting for the No Child Left Behind Act; the paperwork- and red-tape-friendly (and business-unfriendly) Sarbanes-Oxley Act; the pork-laden 2005 highway bill that included the infamous "bridge to nowhere"; and, most expensive of all, a Medicare drug benefit that created more than $7 trillion in unfunded liabilities. What is more, his support for a monstrosity known as the 527 Reform Act, which was intended to close "loopholes" in McCain/Feingold, and which was arguably worse for conservatives than the original article.
Quin argues that Hayworth's lifetime ACU rating means it's "case closed" as far as Hayworth's conservatism is concerned. But I find such ratings fairly useless when evaluating candidates, because there's a lot they don't tell you. They won't tell you, for instance, that Hayworth was the leading recipient of contributions linked to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Or that just after losing his House seat, he shilled for a company that offered seminars on how people could exploit the ballooning federal budget to get "free" money for government. (If you haven't already watched it, you can see him featured in the cringe-inducing infomercial, here.) But the Hayworth embarassments don't end there. He's dabbled in conspiracies, calling for President Obama to produce his birth certificate on national television. Liberals have launched a campaign to define conservatives as extremists by trying to focus on fringe elements within the movement, such as birthers. The right will make that job easier if Republicans not only nominate Hayworth, but conservatives embrace him as one of their own. Though Hayworth subsequently said that Obama was born in the United States, the fact that he publicly flirted with birtherism on MSNBC, at the very minimum, does not speak well of his communication skills.
As far as the National Review's decision to endorse McCain, I personally don't think it makes much sense for national political magaizines to endorse candidates in Senate races, and think they should have stayed neutral. It's hard to defend McCain as a conservative. If you want to argue, as Jim has, that Hayworth is a deeply flawed candidate, but one who may be worth supporting anyway just to send a message that conservatives won't be doormats anymore, then that's one thing. But I find Quin's outright defenses of Hayworth rather unconvincing.
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