Thursday, June 14, 2007

McCain Staying True to His Convictions

Morton Kondracke has an insightful commentary up today at Real Clear Politics on pandering to the base among the candidates in the 2008 presidential field. Kondracke suggests only John McCain has stayed true to his convictions:

America needs a true “uniter, not a divider” as its next president, but candidates who might fit the bill are rapidly kicking away the opportunity by pandering to their parties’ ideological base.

At the top of the list is Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who has made an end to “partisan bickering and ideological decision-making” the keystone of his campaign, but on issue after issue has been pandering to the left and undermining his chances to be a unifying president.

No one else in the race has directly promised “new politics” as Obama has, but Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) all have records of operating across party lines that they are abandoning to one extent or another.

Of the lot, only McCain is emerging as a true “conviction politician” willing to risk defeat for his beliefs, notably by defying his party’s base to back bipartisan immigration reform and by bucking the country’s distaste for the Iraq War by backing President Bush’s troop “surge.”

Bush promised in 2000 that he would be a “uniter, not a divider” and would “restore civility to political discourse.” But he’s done the exact opposite, appealing primarily to the GOP base with minimal outreach to Democrats....

McCain has done his share of repositioning, too -- notably on taxes. McCain voted against Bush’s exorbitant tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 and now wants them extended, a clear cave to the GOP base.

But on Iraq he has been a consistent truth-teller, arguing that the president committed too few troops to win the war. And on immigration, he’s been stalwart in the face of rage in the base stirred up by radio talk-show hosts.
Read the whole article, which details at length the pandering and flip-flopping among the other top-tier candidates of both the parties.

McCain's taking a lot of heat for not being able to maintain his front-runner status, and for his inability to rekindle his "outsider" appeal from the 2000 GOP primary race. But, as I've noted before, McCain's remained the most consistent candidate in support of America's mission in Iraq, and he's thus maintained my backing for the Republican nomination.

Unfortunately, McCain's integrity on the issues is not helping his candidacy. The latest
Los Angeles Times poll found him winning the support of just 12 percent of GOP respondents. Should he not win the party's nomination, I'm looking to Giuliani as the party's standard-bearer in 2008. Rudy's tough on foreign policy, and he's actually more conservative on social issues than has been portrayed in the media.

That said, Iraq will be a key issue for whoever emerges victorious from the Republican field.
A majority of Republicans favor staying the course in Iraq, and I'm hopeful that the party's nominee doesn't succumb to the media's spin on faltering public support on the Iraq war.

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