Commentary Magazine


Coming Around To McCain

In this report, some of the biggest conservative critics of McCain seem to be making lemonade out of lemons (from their point of view). Americans For Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist says: “He has moved in the right direction strongly and forcefully on taxes.” Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, remarks “I have no residual issue with John McCain.” (He also tells McCain antagonist Rush Limbaugh that he “needs to get out of the studio more and talk to real people.”) David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union and a Mitt Romney backer, says he’s “resigned” to McCain winning (Gee, thanks for the vote of support, Romney must be saying.). He’s honest at least, noting  “There are people who don’t like the idea of a being off a campaign or being on the bad list if the guy gets into the White House.This is a town in which 90 percent of the people balance their access and income on the one hand versus their principles on the other.”

But, alas, not everyone has seen the light. Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert goes after McCain for the sin of being an “undependable vote”and for all of his anti-conservative heresies. RedState suggests the anti-McCain forces could use a better spokesman. What’s next? Trent Lott grumbling “I had to leave the Senate because of him–how’s a guy to keep a political favor with him hanging around?” (You can almost see the ads in November.)

Meanwhile, Romney does not give some fiscal conservatives reason to rally to his cause. The Wall Street Journal editors tear into Romney for his lack of convictions, declaring:

[W]e haven’t been able to discern from his campaign, or his record in Massachusetts, what his core principles are. Mr. Romney spent his life as a moderate Republican, and he governed the Bay State that way after his election in 2002. While running this year, however, he has reinvented himself as a conservative from radio talk-show casting, especially on immigration.

The Journal editors then excoriate him for his mandate-based healthcare plan, a frequent source of their ire toward him, and suggest this bodes poorly for his devotion to free-market principles and willingness to take on Democrats in Congress.

Given all this, it is not surprising that Romney, too, may be less than fully devoted (at least financially) to his own cause.