Aug 27, 2010

McCain and the Tea Party

So!  McCain won his primary, and now Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of, issues a press release.
 The John McCain of 2009-10 was a McCain we had not seen since the mid-1990s. The Senator owes his victory to the pressure he received from conservatives and Tea Partiers.
To receive that support, he had to give up his maverick positions that have sometimes given aid and comfort to the liberals. I'm sure Senator McCain knows very well that he would not have won if he had continued his reputation as the Democrats' favorite Republican.

McCain ran an aggressive, hard-hitting campaign against former Congressman J. D. Hayworth. If he had taken this same kind of principled conservative and 'take no prisoners' campaign against Barack Obama in 2008, he'd now be in the second year of his presidency.

The strength of the Tea Party cause is being felt in various ways: sometimes by pressuring incumbents into retirement; other times by beating an establishment Republican in a convention or primary; or, in Senator McCain's case, by applying so much heat, they see the virtue of small government, constitutional conservatism.

Conservatives and Tea Party activists look forward to welcoming Senator McCain and other lost conservatives back from their flirtations with big government.
First off, I really wouldn't say that he owes his victory to pressure from the Tea Party: it would probably be more accurate to say that he owes his near-defeat to their support for the other guy.  Still, if your ultimate goal is to swing government to the right rather than get your guy elected, and if you're willing to settle for 'the incumbent ramped up the crazy in order to win the primary', then I guess I understand why they're calling it a victory.

There's so much wrong here: McCain being the Democrats' favorite Republican?  Give me a break--if the left ever liked McCain it wasn't because of his policies so much as the fact that he seemed to be operating on principle rather than political calculation.  Whatever of that good feeling that he didn't piss away during the Bush years he dragged out into the street, set on fire, and ran over the dog of during his most recent presidential bid.  I can't speak for the rest of the Left, but my favorite Republican is Michael Steele, a hilariously incompetent leader who was hired solely on the basis of being black and now can't be fired for that very reason.  I don't actually like him, but the Schadenfreude just tickles.

What I really want to talk about is that last line: flirtations with big government.  Now over.  End.  No more.  Now, credit where it's due: Viguerie isn't one of those newly-minted 'conservatives' who cheered on Bush the Lesser and then suddenly developed a deep concern for America's financial well-being the minute a Democrat stepped into power.  He developed a deep concern for America's financial well-being back in 2006 when it only looked like the Democrats were about to take power.  Even the dust jacket of his 2004 book America's Right Turn still calls the GOP 'an avowedly conservative party'.  Quite the turnaround.

What Viguerie fails to grasp about the Tea Party is that--just like Bush the Lesser, just like Bush Sr., just like Reagan whom he still quotes in reverential tones, just like every single Republican president since Coolidge and Hoover--the Tea Party are not conservatives.  They're split between being angry that government money should go to other people and being bad at math:

BAAAAWWWWW!  Big government and the deficit!
Okay, the biggest single items are military spending and social security--want to cut them?  No.
Well, perhaps you would like to raise taxes then?  No.
Okay, so what do you want to cut?  Entitlements!
You mean the military-industrial complex?  No.
You mean Medicare?  Get your government hands off my Medicare!
So what do you--  Other people's entitlements!
And where were you when Bush wrecked the largest surplus in history, rolled back civil rights, and started a trillion dollars worth of wars?

Oh, right--cheering him on.  And pining for his memory cf the "Miss me?" signs.  To be sure, they are against TARP, but if national averages hold, then about half of them think that it was passed under Obama.

Tell ya' what: when you're serious about raising taxes, chopping the military, chopping entitlements that benefit you, and preserving even those inconvenient bits of the Constitution that say brown people get civil rights (Guantanamo and Arizona, for starters), then let me know, because then you'll actually be conservatives.  Until such time, you're nothing but hypocritical sore losers who believe in nothing but getting back into power.

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