Thoughts on the Candidates as the Field Narrows

Democrats have recently been much more aggressive in punishing apostasy on the part of its adherents. Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey was not permitted to speak at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because he planned to deliver a pro-life message. In 2000, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut was sufficiently main stream among Democrats that he was their nominee for vice-president. However, because of his continued support of American efforts in Iraq, the wing of the party made sure he was not re-nominated as a Democratic Senator of Connecticut. Lieberman was returned to the Senate on the strength of his popularity among independents and Republicans. Lieberman is not now permitted to be Democratic superdelegate because of his endorsement of  Senator John McCain for president.

On the Republican side of the aisle, Republicans are on the verge of nominating Senator John McCain who has angered many Republicans for his apostasy on immigration issues, campaign finance restrictions, and lack of support for Bush tax cuts. McCain has moved towards back towards conventional Republican virtues on these issues, save perhaps campaign finance. On the war, McCain support of the war and his critique on strategy now seem prescient. Why is there residual anger among some Conservative Republicans?

The problem is that the same stubbornness that led McCain to say he would rather lose an election than a war and to stay in the race last summer when his candidacy seemed doomed, aggravated fellow Conservatives when they disagreed with McCain. McCain seemed to bask a little too comfortably in the glow of a fawning press who are always happy to devote attention to a Republican in conflict with his party. It is one thing to reluctantly disagree with other Conservatives on the basis of your best judgment and quite another to revel in and nurture a reputation as a maverick at the expense of other Conservatives.

McCain just gave a talk of reconciliation at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference trying to mend differences and he  seems to be slowly gaining more Conservative support. McCain, however, needs more than acquiescence, he needs political energy to win in November. In realty, McCain has for a long time remained true to Conservative principles while in the Senate. When Conservatives compare McCain to the ideal Conservative candidate they may see two lights that are far separated. However, as one moves further to the Left away from these lights toward the darkness occupied by Senators Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama, the difference between the two lights disappears and we can perceive only one guiding light in the distance.

One the Democratic side, at this point it seems that both Clinton and Obama have about an equal chance of securing a nomination, though political futures at this point slightly favor Obama. This poses an interesting question about how Republicans should review the race. As the National Review has opined, “say a prayer for Hillary if you want a Republican in the White House, that is.” Her very presence would energize Republicans in opposition. Indeed, it would be tactically best for Republicans if Clinton and Obama competed all the way the the convention. It would be a Republican political wet dream if Obama entered the convention with a majority of elected delegates and if Clinton managed to garner the nomination by using superdelegates, the elected Democratic establishment. This would send a wounded Clinton to the election with half the party angered at what would appear as anti-democratic means used to secure the nomination.

As pleasant as this vision is, for the good of the Republic, even if Obama would be a more formidable candidate, we should pray for his nomination. The policy differences between Obama and Clinton are narrow, but Obama would at least enter office with the good will of most Americans. Clinton would prove to be divisive from the beginning and the country would likely become partisan. This partisanship would not be of the principled kind, but grow out of avid struggle for raw political power.

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