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Another Appeal For McCainmentum

Tuesday, February 19, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Over at FoxNew’s “Embedded Producers,” Mosheh Oinounou speculates that I am “impatient” with my colleagues in center-right radio for not getting behind McCain.

I am not impatient, and it isn’t for me to tell any of my colleagues how to run their shows or whether their opinions are wrong. The nature of talk radio is that the hosts who succeed are the hosts who combine excellent on-air skills and entertainment values with honest, deeply-held, closely argued opinions. You can’t pretend to be for McCain if you aren’t –because the audience will hear it in a nanosecond.

What is going on within the center-right now is a legitmate, idea-driven argument that involves sorting through a great number of issues. If the most important issue in your life was the confirmation of one of the judges who did not get confirmed in the course of the judicial nomination wars of 2001 through 2006, you might never get around to supporting McCain, or it might take you longer.

Other hosts and conservative activists have other sets of issues. For me, though, the number one issue is pursuing victory in the war, and that has been issue #1 since 9/11. It is why I and a few others launched “The NRSC Pledge” in early 2007, why I helped start the Victory Caucus, and why I devote so much time on the program to extended interviews with folks like Lawrence Wright, Victor Davis Hanson and Douglas Franz and Catherine Collins. If you believe the country is threatened by a jihadist network backed by rogue states like Iran and that Iran’s nuclear ambitions present a crisis of the first order, you simply cannot sit out the race or do other than work for Senator McCain and indeed contribute to his campaign. That’s what Mitt Romney said when he endorsed him, and I hope that’s what Mike Huckabee gets around to saying soon. Hammer and tong through the primaries, clarity thereafter.

I got an earful on this subject from my friend Joseph Timothy Cook who has occasionally guest-hosted for me. Cook’s a former Vietnam-era Navy aviator, who worked passionately for McCain in 2000 and then backed Romney in 2008. Now he’s back working hard for McCain. He sent me a guest editorial on the subject of conservatives and McCain. It is as blunt and to the point about the stakes. It may not persuade many, but a few more would help:

Time To Question Their Patriotism?

by Tim Cook

In the past four or five years, I have been alternatively outraged and amused by the frequency and vehemence with which the left has howled over the supposed slander by the right when we call them what they are: Not serious about the war against Islamic jihad.

“How dare you call us traitors?”

“Say what? I never said that.”

“Well, you sure implied it, and many others interpret your careless words that way.”

“Who? When? “

“NBC…WaPo…NYTimes…LATimes…all the reliable commentators.”

Well, now I AM ready to utter those fighting words, aimed not at OBL’s useful fools, but at some of our own. The righteous indignation with which many claim that they will skip over the Presidential column on their ballots come November because John McCain isn’t conservative enough, or has torpedoed good Republican policies, completely overlooks the number one issue of the age –that war mentioned above.

Standing firm on imagined principal can feel pretty damned good. Stick your chest out and launch your chin to a jaunty Rooseveltian angle. But when the obvious and inevitable result is a dramatic increase in the risk of attack on American soil, it is a dangerous exercise in self indulgence. Given the present state of the spoken and written record from Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama, and Sen. McCain on the state of the war, and proposals and intentions for keeping America safe, no rational person can believe that we will be safer with one of the Democrats as Commander-In-Chief.

Now I would like to be clear that I am not enthralled with McCain from front to back. My journey with the Straight Talk Express has had plenty of bumps, flat tires, and wrong turns. Back in 2000, I was a vigorous supporter of John. I share many of his life experiences…I, too, am a graduate of the Naval Academy. I too flew the A-4 Skyhawk in combat over North Vietnam. Although I would never expect him to remember, we were both stationed at Naval Air Station Cecil Field, outside Jacksonville, FL, back in 1965 to ’68. We have bellied up to the same bar at the “Officer’s Recreational Facility” (ORF). Several of his POW friends were from the Air Wing I flew with, and I remember clearly the feeling of the tears rolling down my face when he, and the other POWS, got off the plane at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. In fact, when McCain was still in a North Vietnamese prison, I was flying in a Navy Reserve squadron based at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, D.C. His father, retired Adm. McCain would occasionally come to our squadron (and other Reserve units as well), to brief us on world wide military matters.

So, I had a pretty good reason to support McCain. I sent him money, I made calls, I had a sign in my yard, and argued incessantly with my friend and GW Bush supporter, Hugh Hewitt. I was infuriated when McCain was sabotaged in both South Carolina and New York.

But then the senatorial record of my hero began to unravel. McCain-Feingold?? Ouch. The Gang of Fourteen?? Awful. McCain-Kennedy?? Disaster averted by talk radio. So in 2007 I started supporting Romney. And I argued with everyone who would listen that McCain was dangerous on everything but the war, and maybe judges. Many of my Naval Academy classmates thought I’d gone over the edge. I sagely nodded my approval whenever Rush, or Sean, or Laura, or Hugh recited the litany of McCain fumbles.

But that was then. Now is now.

Nothing has changed to make John McCain’s recent Senate record any more palatable. But the race has changed. John McCain is now the certain nominee, and will be facing either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Neither of those two folks will fight the war. John McCain will. Our future as a nation depends on fighting and winning that war. To sit idly by and watch a Democrat win, without having voted, is foolish. To use a hard earned and well deserved bully pulpit to encourage others to do the same is deeply, deeply misguided. If any patriot had used his pulpit during the long war for Independence to urge a turn to the Tories, would he be called a patriot today?

Climb on board, talkers. We need your audience in full-throated roar to turn away the excitement on the other side. You’ve sustained us for a long time. Don’t let us down now.

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