Carol Platt Liebau: Don't Take the Bait

Monday, February 11, 2008

Don't Take the Bait

Andrew McCarthy astutely points out a strange and disturbing phenomenon: The penchant of McCain supporters to antagonize the conservatives McCain must win over in order to have any shot at the presidency.

Some, it seems clear, are simply national-security-before-all-else people, and for them, McCain's serial apostasies on campaign finance, immigration, the Bush tax cuts, treatment of terrorists and the rest don't matter. They can't seem to wrap their heads around the fact that good people might sincerely and vociferously object to elements of the McCain record that seem largely immaterial to them. Those people just need to wake up and realize that they're doing their man no favors by questioning the good faith of those who disagree with him, and them.

But I suspect there are a fair number of others who are not only supporting McCain, but trying to use him to win an internecine struggle within the Republican Party -- and those people are antagonizing conservatives on purpose. They are the segment of the party that is uncomfortable with the power of the conservative (and/or religious) wing of the party especially when it comes to social issues, and they are delighted to have the opportunity to try to reassemble a moderate GOP coalition composed of McCain types, old time northeast Republicans, and independents. They are delighted to have a chance to drive a wedge between talk radio listeners and the hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity and Ingraham.

And they are the ones conservatives are going to have to grit their teeth and ignore. The GOP is by far the best vehicle conservatives have for enacting their agenda, and leaving the party (as some no doubt hope they will) is a recipe for marginalization when it comes to national security, judges, and conservative cultural issues ranging from gay marriage to embryo stem cell research.

Don't take the bait and let those who want conservatives out of the GOP have their way. That would spell destruction for the Republican Party -- but even more sadly, for the conservative movement.


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