Carol Platt Liebau: How About a Little Respect?

Friday, February 08, 2008

How About a Little Respect?

Michael Gerson is a first-class speechwriter.

But he gets it horribly wrong in his Washington Post column.

He's not mistaken in asserting that some conservative voices have gone over the top in attacking John McCain. Rather -- as people so often do when they try to discern the motives behind others' actions -- he misdiagnoses the reason . . . even as he provides a glowing example of the reason McCain is so disliked in so many corners of the party.

Gerson seems unaware that many conservatives' "issue" with John McCain isn't primarily policy-based. Lots of the same people speaking out most vociferously against McCain are those who would have embraced Rudy Giuliani, although some of his views are no more orthodox than McCain's.

The difference between the two is that Rudy made it clear that the disagreements weren't personal -- that he respected conservatives even when he thought they were wrong. In contrast, with John McCain, everything is personal -- and those who don't fall right in line with his views aren't just wrong, they're really not good people.

This attitude sticks in the craw of conservatives because they've encountered it too often on the part of the MSM and Democrats. Ironically, in his column, Gerson falls into it, too.

For example, Gerson insists that a campaign that takes a tough line on immigration would carry with it the "taint of intolerance" -- and that people who believe in a strict policy either aren't willing or aren't capable of making elementary moral distinctions. He instructs his readers that "a young woman who dies in the desert during a perilous crossing for the dream of living in America is not the moral equivalent of a drug dealer." Who knew?

He goes on to attribute opposition to McCain to dislike of "Bush's democracy agenda [which] was criticized by some traditionalists and realists as 'utopian Wilsonianism' and 'as un-conservative as it can be.'" Well, somewhere (perhaps in the Ron Paul area) there may be some elements of the party that feel that way -- but hasn't Gerson been paying attention? Every conservative who is coming to support McCain is doing so because of his foreign policy views, not despite them.

No doubt Gerson intended to defend and assist McCain. But for those of us who have opposed him in the primary yet intend to support him in the general, this kind of moral condescention flicks in the raw.

For too many years, conservatives have been told by the press and by Democrats that their views are small-minded, unenlightened, even immoral. John McCain has played that game, too -- but now may be understanding the unnecessary damage it caused him among the base he must now woo.

High-minded critiques like Mike Gerson's only set back McCain's cause, and delay the process of unification that's so necessary to stop a Democrat from winning The White House.


Blogger stackja1945 said...

Carol, a Dem in the WH, will advance the Dems' agenda. McCain for all his problems seems to have a different agenda.

4:22 PM  

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