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February 11, 2008

Political Stupidity Masquerading as Conscience

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

So, the GOP has its presumptive nominee. With all due respect to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, it just ain’t Hucka-happenin’!

He’s a good man. He seems to have been a successful multi-term governor. He may have governed a little too moderately for some Republicans, but his strong personal faith might be an offset. For starters, he doesn’t believe in the theory of evolution. No monkey’s uncle in his lineage!

Nope, we’ve got John McCain, love him or hate him. On first glance, it appears that the Rush Limbaugh/Ann Coulter/Sean Hannity wing of the GOP is not a lover of the Arizona senator. Conservative talk radio, especially Laura Ingraham (syndicated right here on AM 930 WFMD), cannot imagine a national GOP ticket with Senator McCain in the top ballot position.

They cite his moderate stances on immigration, campaign finance reform, and the Bush tax cuts as the primary reason to be concerned about his candidacy. Unfortunately, they resort to name-calling and personal attacks to drive home their points.

I heard one ultra-conservative talker excoriate Senator McCain for his age, making light of the fact that he’ll be 72 when he takes the oath of office if elected next November. I heard another belittle his trophy wife, and a third speculate that McCain’s dream team would include Independent Senator (and former Democratic veep candidate) Joe Lieberman as a McCain vice presidential possibility.

In the running for the most asinine comment I’ve heard muttered in relation to Senator McCain is the one by conservative writer and pundit Ann Coulter. Ms. Coulter, no media shrinking violet, suggests she’ll campaign for – and vote for – New York Sen. Hillary R. Clinton.

That one made me drop my soda. This same Ms. Coulter spent eight years attacking the Clintons during their time in the White House. In her world, a Democrat is akin to a gutter rat; her book titles spew a brand of hatred normally reserved for the white sheet and hood crowd.

I guess Senator McCain must really be bad, if the possibility of his election as president would send Ann into the arms of Hillary (pun intended).

For my money, Ann can have her, or more appropriately, Senator Clinton can have Ms. Coulter. I think these overly partisan voices are wearing out their welcome, limiting their listener base to the voters that would never consider voting for anyone but the most partisan. They want someone who shares a myopic view of policy that places doing nothing for the cause over actually getting important work done for the American people.

Sad was the day when the American voter fell for the idea that compromise equaled defeat. In the halls of Congress, the state legislature, county headquarters, or city hall, compromise is the fuel that fires the engine of government. You fight like hell for what you firmly believe in, but you seek common ground in areas where principle allows room to negotiate.

Too many of the partisan goons who adhere to a “my way or the highway” mentality are actually standing in dirt, because their inability to see things from a broader perspective means the road actually never gets paved! In fact, they need to find a constituency that places a higher priority on the fight than it does on the accomplishment, because little will ever get accomplished.

The religious right is holding back on its endorsement. The Rev. James Dobson, and his Focus on the Family crew, just can’t bring themselves to support Senator McCain, for the reasons stated above. Wonder where the religious focus actually is in this debate; and why anyone should really care what the Reverend Dobson and his acolytes think about Senator McCain’s fitness to serve?

Look at it like this. You’re in a foxhole, on a battlefield. You can pick the guy next to you, helping you hold off an advancing hoard. Your choices are Dr. Dobson or Senator McCain. Dr. Dobson’s resume is filled with his lofty sermons, the terrible TV and radio programs he and his followers have boycotted, and the cushy offices he and his faith empire have spawned.

Senator McCain, on the other hand, has his Vietnam experience, including seven years in the Hanoi Hilton, spurning an offer of early release in exchange for the media statement he’d have to make in order to embarrass his admiral father and grandfather. He also has his legislative accomplishments in the House and Senate, fighting earmarks and wasteful spending, providing for veterans and military service members, and, yes, those dreaded compromises that resulted in his partisan disfavor.

So, who do you choose?

John McCain was not my first choice for president. Heck, he might not even be my second! The fact is that he looks to be the person my party will nominate to take on the Democrat. Whether it’s Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, rest assured that the differences between the GOP and Democratic candidate will be immense and significant.

Having talk radio and cable news pundits spreading the word that it’s better to stay away than vote for John McCain shows me that those who say that love the fight more than they love our country.

They’ve decided to suffer through four or eight years of a Clinton or Obama presidency to make the point that they were right.

Well, they’re not. In fact, there’s some stupidity pretending to be political conscience. Let’s hope that voters see it for what it really is.

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