McCain or Romney?
Nearly all conservative pundits are united in their opposition to John McCain. Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham all are against his candidacy. National Review’s contributors all abhor McCain. Rush Limbaugh has broken with his tradition to not endorsing in primaries to endorse McCain’s only remaining viable opponent, Mitt Romney. Conservatives agree: John McCain should not be the Republican nominee. Mitt Romney should.
I hate to disagree with Rush Limbaugh, but he and the rest of the anti-McCain bunch are wrong. There is virtually no difference between him and Romney. For every conservative apostasy McCain has committed, Romney has done something equally bad. In fact, was it not for McCain’s apparent love of tweaking conservatives (evidenced by his persistent support for his amnesty bill), he might very well be the better candidate. If the conservative coalition is built on a strong foreign policy, limited government, and traditional values, it is very probable McCain is closer to the conservative position on those issues on Romney is.
McCain is far better on the Iraq War. He pushed for the surge long before anyone else did, at the cost of considerable criticism. Had he been wrong, and the surge unnecessary or a failure, his political career would have virtually over. Whether one likes or dislikes McCain, it is important to give him credit on this issue.
Romney, while a reliable supporter of the war, did not foresee the surge. Few did. However, had McCain been President in 2004, the situation in Iraq would probably be much better. If Romney had been in charge, the situation would most likely be close to what it is today.
Romney and McCain are comparable on limited government issues as well. McCain claims that he fought hard against earmarks and pork. Apparently without much success, since the budget has skyrocketed. Romney hasn’t been very good on fiscal matters. To his credit, he did not raise taxes as governor of Massachusetts. He also balanced the budget in his state. His health care plan, however, requires citizens to purchase health insurance. (Barack Obama’s doesn’t.) He is not an enemy of big government. On social issues, McCain probably has the edge. He has been reliably pro-life. Not very pro-life, but pro-life. He supports embryonic stem cell research, which is an important issue for conservatives, but is also an issue whose importance is diminished by the fact that this practice has been made obsolete by new medical developments.
Romney claims to be pro-life, and there is no reason to doubt him, but he seems to have had a great many conversions on this issue. When running against Ted Kennedy in 1994, he discovered a family member who died on an illegal abortion. So he became pro-choice. Then he started researching stem cells, and his eyes were so opened by what he found that he had to switch over to the pro-life side, forgetting the sad case of his deceased cousin. Romney may be acceptable to those who oppose abortion, but it is not as if his continued opposition to abortion is a certainty. He has changed his mind at least twice on the issue.
I am aware of McCain’s lack of adherence to conservative values. But I do not see that Romney is any more conservative. Both candidates are more or less the same: awful.
Were I voting today (which I am not), I would probably vote for Romney, out of an allegiance to Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, and the rest of the conservative pundits I respect and admire. But for myself, there is not enough difference between the two candidates to make me like one more than the other. The GOP needed a good, strong conservative this year. They didn’t get him. There is not a good choice and a bad choice—only bad choices.