The rabid strain of anti-McCain sentiment among media conservatives is, in fact, a betrayal of one of the most important principles of conservatism itself: the willingness to work with the concrete facts of a situation. The great strength of a politically conservative mindset is that it’s predicated on seeing the world as it is. When Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, and Rush Limbaugh threaten to deny McCain their vote because he’s not an ideal conservative, they come off more like quixotic Ron Paul undergrads or deluded moveon.orgers than like the realists they pride themselves on being. If it’s McCain’s lack of a consistent political philosophy that truly bothers this lot, then they can’t possibly mean it when they say they prefer Hillary. We know that the only politics she practices, and the only philosophy she abides, is that of the ferociously personal. So, what the McCain-haters are really doing is protesting the sub-Reagan Republican.
Recently, Victor Davis Hanson wrote a much needed reminder about the real Ronald Reagan. Hanson cited Reagan’s tax hikes, governmental bloat, and amnesty for illegals. The point is not that Reagan betrayed conservatives, but that his conservatism was not the pristine ideology-in-action that many now remember.
It’s liberals who are supposed to view political and cultural matters as they are not—in idealized hues. (And some describe neoconservatives as seeing the world as it could be.) But conservatives are supposed to size up a predicament for what it is, and make a non-sentimental decision. Conservatives do a cost-benefit analysis; liberals are the ones who take the ball and go home after an argument on the playground. Yet there they go: Rush, Michelle, Hugh, and Ann kicking up the dirt as they pout their way off the field.