Many conservatives have an intense dislike for John McCain. Some even have declared their intention of casting their vote for a third party candidate in November instead of John McCain. These people consider McCain’s deviations from conservative principles too great to overlook, and cannot cast their vote for the comparatively liberal McCain.
This position is reasonable, though I disagree with it. However, most conservative attacks on McCain have merit, and degree of nonconservatism acceptable in a candidate must vary from person to person. The attacks on McCain from Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and others are, for the most part, reasonable and understandable. However, some of the emerging conservative attacks on McCain are getting ridiculous.
The words “Ann Coulter” and “ridiculous” often go together, and it should come as no surprise that she is leading the charge of crazy conservative attacks on McCain. Her column for this week examines the reason that no Reagan has emerged to lead the Republican Party to victory.
Does the answer lie in the fact that Reagan was a once in a lifetime leader who we should not count on seeing again? Or in the fact that even Reagan wasn’t perfect and that it is stupid to expect a demigod as a Presidential candidate? Or that many influential party members (including Ann Coulter) rejected the candidate most similar to Reagan, Fred Thompson?
Of course not. The reason we do not have another Reagan, according to Coulter, is…John McCain. When Reagan ran for the governorship of California, he (unsurprisingly) ran his campaign in a way that would not be allowed today, in the wake of McCain-Feingold. Coulter seems to think that McCain-Feingold is single-handedly stopping either party from ever nominating anyone in the mold of Reagan.
Now, McCain-Feingold is unquestionably a bad bill. But not that bad. Ann Coulter does not seem to have any idea of what campaign finance laws allow. She declares that “Friends of Reagan”, a group that raised money for a possible Reagan run, would not be allowed today. Although given that Fred Thompson formed “Friends of Fred” along much the same lines, it is hard to see why.
Coulter does make a point when she points out that fundraising under McCain-Feingold is much harder today, and is right to point out that it shouldn’t be. There is no reason to think that Reagan would be particularly deterred by that, but the absurd campaign finance laws on the books today are a pressing issue.
Soon, though, Coulter is back to stupidity. She says that Reagan couldn’t have won anyway, since federal election laws make it almost impossible to unseat an incumbent. This is a point that would be a lot more convincing if California’s present governor hadn’t gotten the governorship by unseating an incumbent in a recall election.
Coulter decides that, thanks to McCain-Feingold, we have four classes of men willing to run for office. There are men attempting to compensate for unhappy adolescences, such as Bill Clinton, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani (never mind that all of these men started in government long before McCain-Feingold), billionaires like Mitt Romney and Steve Forbes, celebrities and “name candidates like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hillary Clinton, and media-anointed candidates like Barack Obama and John McCain. Except that the media-anointed candidates were Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. And anyhow, Reagan would fit into that list very comfortably, in the celebrity slot.
Anyway, the lack of conservative candidates can be traced back to a time long before McCain-Feingold. In 1996, we got Bob Dole, “tax collector for the welfare state”, and in 2000, we got George “Deficits” Bush. Are those candidates McCain’s fault as well?
John McCain has faults, and conservatives should take him to task for them. But they should criticize his many real faults, and not find crazy imaginary ones to complain about.
By the way, if you want to read Coulter's article, it is here.