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Monday, June 9, 2008
A Conservative's Guide to the Current Campaign

Here are some brief thoughts on working toward November, what needs to happen in November, and what to do after that.

Somewhere -- was it Don Aslett's The Stainbuster's Bible? -- I learned that the way to treat some stains is in two steps. First, you use whatever chemical will break up the original stain and remove it. Then you use whatever you need to remove the first chemical. It's a lot like using treating a primary medical condition with the necessary medicine, then adding another medicine to counteract the first medicine's negative side-effects. For example, if a medicine you need for your kidney disease also raises your blood pressure, you take it, but also something to lower your blood pressure.

I sorry to say that this sort of thinking applies to our upcoming November election, too. Before I explain, we have to talk about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for a minute.

The Spherically-Challenged Female-American Sings in August, not June

The heading is not intended to suggest that Senator Clinton is spherically challenged. She's not. It's point is that I'm not sure she's really gone yet, and I won't be sure until the convention delegates actually, formally choose their nominee in August.

My take on the Democratic presidential nomination has long been, let's get the Clintons out of the picture first, then worry about who's left. So I find recent developments encouraging. But I listened to the Senator's "concession" speech Saturday morning and thought:

  • She really wants to be vice president, if the alternative is to be left out altogether.
  • She's trying to portray herself as the only possible choice. Her approach struck me as carefully worded, diplomatic bullying.
  • If Senator Obama picked her, and even if he could keep her on message and inbounds, he wouldn't have a prayer of containing her husband. She herself couldn't -- in the campaign context, I mean. I think the only hope would be to make him US Ambassador to some distant island nation of morally-challenged interns, get him installed in the embassy, and then bomb their airports and communications infrastructure back to the Stone Age. Not very likely.
  • She may have endorsed Obama, but she hasn't released her delegates yet.

Releasing delegates is complicated and not automatic. Each state party has its own rules for when and how they are released, and whether they can be released at all. So maybe it just takes time. Or maybe she's holding on to them for bargaining purposes, or in the (slim) hope that an August surprise will be so compelling to the superdelegates that they will change their votes in droves, because Obama looks unelectable. By the way, did you know that few if any of the regular delegates are legally obligated to vote the way they are "pledged"? I'm not saying it will happen -- I rather think it will not -- but a properly-timed major scandal could sway even some of the pledged delegates away from Obama. It wouldn't take very many.

The opera's not over until . . . well, you know.

The War Is Dispositive

No, I don't mean "not positive." I mean it settles the question -- of my vote in the presidential election, that is. (I seem to be explaining my headings today.)

I find Senator John McCain unconvincing as a conservative and unpalatable as a moderate. The only serious primary candidates to whom I prefer him are Governor Mike Huckabee (a religious bigot and not a conservative) and Congressman Ron Paul (insert Twilight Zone theme here). That said, now that he is the Republican nominee, John McCain has to be elected.

Our war with Islamic fascism is far from over, and I don't mean just the thing in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's more than a military war, more than terrorism. We're hearing lately that it's a human rights violation in Canada to say or write something which offends Muslims. And Christian missionaries are arrested in England when they proselyte in Muslim neighborhoods. No religion, including mine, deserves that level of deference, and when our fear or our stupidity cause us to grant such excesses to a religion which tends to be intolerant of others' religious freedom, the threat to free society is immense.

On the military front, quite apart from the questions of whether it was right to go to war (I think it was), whether the war has been conducted intelligently in all major respects (no war ever was), and how dangerous Iranian nukes will be (very), there is the matter of our commitment to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. After Vietnam, Cambodia, and the First Gulf War, the United States had a well-deserved reputation of being an inconstant friend, and very deadly in its inconstancy. This partly explains our ongoing struggle for credibility in Iraq and Afghanistan. We fight for a while with people who want our help defending their freedom (the Iraqi Kurds come to mind), but then we go soft, pull out, and congratulate ourselves while our erstwhile allies on the ground are butchered by the tens of thousands or even millions, largely because they cooperated with us when we swooped in. Proud as I am of much of my nation's heritage and history, I am ashamed of this part of it. If we leave our friends to be butchered wholesale this time -- again -- how many more decades will it be before the world takes our friendship, our ideals, and our strength seriously?

I think a Democrat in the White House might find it harder to surrender than it is to promise surrender in campaign speeches, but we can't afford to elect a candidate who promises that. (See CESM in my glossary of acronyms.) Therefore, much as I hate to say this, for the good of the country, we have to vote for John McCain.

Then What?

Here's where the stain and medication analogies enter the picture. John McCain has some serious liabilities, including an demonstrably shallow understanding of economics and his apparent willingness to justify trashing our economy in a vain effort to reverse global warming (which is actually probably already reversing itself, and not within our power anyway). I think he will be positively dangerous to our freedom and prosperity in some important respects.

Therefore, we have to do our utmost to elect Republicans to the Senate and House of Representatives, to restrain President McCain when he teams up with Democrats to do something foolish, as he has often done before. It's not strictly necessary that there be a Republican majority, but there cannot be a large Democratic majority. Forty-one committed Republican senators can prevent a lot of foolishness, but I'd be more comfortable with at least 45.

This is no time for conservatives to recoil from national politics in disgust. It's time to stand up and exert every honorable and legal influence on the outcome of the upcoming election. Then, whatever the outcome in November, we are equally needed to exert every honorable and legal influence on those who are elected, for the duration of their terms of office.

Freedom can be lost through selfishness, ignorance, and weakness, to be sure. I'm just one guy, but it appears to me that the current major threats are different: laziness, distraction, discouragement, and despair. This is no time to indulge any of those.

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