There have been a number of absurd reasons given recently by self-described conservatives who are endorsing the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate in his bid for the presidency, but none are quite as unconvincing as Anne Applebaum’s. In her Washington Post column, she begins by laying out the case for McCain: He’s a foreign-policy expert, who “knows not only the names, he knows the people; and by this I mean not just foreign presidents but foreign members of parliament, foreign
journalists, foreign generals. He goes to Germany every year, visits Vietnam often. He can talk intelligently about Belarus and Uzbekistan.”
“Another thing I liked about McCain,” she continues, “was the deliberate distance he always kept from the nuttier wing of his party and, simultaneously, the loyalty he’s shown to a recognizably conservative budgetary philosophy.”
“Finally,” she writes, “I admired McCain’s willingness to tackle politically risky issues such as immigration, the debate about which has long been drenched in hypocrisy.”
So why then is she casting a ballot of Barack Obama, who is, she admits, “the least experienced, least tested candidate in modern presidential history”? Apparently it’s because during his campaign McCain has made “a fatal effort to appeal to the least thoughtful, most partisan elements of his base.” What evidence is there for this charge? She claims that he has “moved away from his previous positions on torture and immigration,” though I haven’t seen any sign of that. All he has said is that we need to secure the border before enacting the kind of amnesty that he favors for immigrants already here. He has never backed off his pledge to close Gitmo and prohibit torture.
Her real beef seems to be not with John McCain–who is the same man he has always been–but with some of his supporters, who, she claims, “cultivate ignorance and fear: Watch Sean Hannity’s ” arack Obama and Friends: A History of Radicalism” on YouTube if you don’t believe me.”
So let me see if I’ve got this straight: Anne Applebaum disdains John McCain because Sean Hannity supports him? But she doesn’t mind Barack Obama, despite his long association with Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers? Despite the rabid support he receives from know-nothings like Keith Olbermann and the most extreme wing of the Democratic Party? And despite Obama’s efforts to “appeal to the least thoughtful, most partisan elements of his base” by pushing a 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and opposing free trade treaties?
Frankly, I’m disappointed. Anne Applebaum is a serious person who has written a first-rate history of the Gulag. She needs to make a more serious case for Obama and against McCain.