Last night Jeremy linked to this piece of mine arguing against giving John McCain the Reagan treatment (see Peter Wallison’s column for a different view). We need to remember we’re not crowning the leader of the conservative movement here or defining conservatism for all time. If McCain is nominated, as now appears likely (though still not inevitable), that is something conservatives need to keep in mind.
It’s possible McCain will return to his Reaganite roots as the nominee or once in office. It’s more likely that he’ll continue his past decade’s worth of Strange New Respect Republicanism, governing at best as a more hawkish Bush 41. Now is the time for conservatives to stop being, as Paul Weyrich once put it, monarchists at heart. We are not defined by whoever the GOP nominee or whoever the president is. The task of coming up with the conservative agenda for the 21st century should not be left to a septugenarian. If McCain is the nominee, back him when he’s right and oppose him when he’s wrong. But look beyond RNC press releases to determine which is which.
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