February 1, 2008

JVL on McCain

What attention I have given to the presidential campaign so far has been mostly on the Democratic side, because frankly, it's been more interesting than the GOP race. If John McCain becomes the Republican nominee, we'll necessarily see a gradual demonization of him by the left, but it will be hard for them to top the one being administered now by conservatives. In an interview with FPM, Jonathan V. Last remarks on the phenomenon:

FP: Why do you think McCain is so deeply disliked by a lot of movement conservatives?

Last: Hard to say, really. I mean, if you take the complaints of talk radio titans and bloggers at face value, they despise McCain because he's for comprehensive immigration reform, the restriction of free speech via campaign-finance reform, a Senate compromise which put John Roberts and Sam Alito on the SCOTUS, and because he voted against the Bush tax cuts. (There are other complaints, but those are the ones you hear most frequently.)

All of those things are true, of course, but you could say the same of George W. Bush: He was for comprehensive immigration reform, he signed McCain-Feingold into law, he was going to put Harriet Miers on the court instead of Sam Alito, and he put the federal government on steroids with his prescription-drug benefit and No Child Left Behind plans. I don't hear too many movement conservatives railing, day after day, hour after hour, against President Bush.

So there has to be some other component to the McCain antipathy. I suspect that, like many things in politics, it's personal which makes it, by definition, beyond rationality. Not that there's anything wrong with that. None of us are purely rational beings and our impulses often govern preference, even--especially--in politics.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure there's any real profit to be found trying to psychoanalyze the anti-McCain conservatives. They exist, they're part of a very real feeling. But only time will tell how widespread that feeling really is among voters and whether or not some of those people will come back to the Republican fold if McCain is the nominee.

UPDATE 2/1: At least Scrappleface is having fun with it.

Posted by dan at February 1, 2008 11:34 AM