The Lieberman boomlet –Ed Morrissey’s reaction of “Disaster” sums up a lot of the reaction I received on my show and in my e-mail box yesterday (HT: RobinsonandLong.com)– reminds me of the push for a Reagan-Ford ticket in 1980, when Beltway sharpies told the Gipper he couldn’t win without a major shake-up of the dynamics of the race, one that would be provided by picking former President Ford as a running mate.
Reagan was tempted but ultimately went with George H.W. Bush and drove straight-ahead to a blowout win over then President Carter. Reagan won because he persuaded millions of Americans he had the right vision for the country, and that the voters could trust him –and his party– to govern well though Watergate was only a short six years in the past,
Senator McCain has the same choice ahead of him. He doesn’t need any bank shots or game-changers. He needs what was on display Saturday night at Saddleback –a confidence in the rightness of center-right ideas across a range of issues and of course a deep belief in American exceptionalism. A conventional but base-energizing choice –Romney or Pawlenty– will keep the momentum going and reveal no deficit of confidence in McCain’s ideas or the core ideas of his party. Such a choice will also say that while the Congressional GOP was seduced by spending and Beltway ways over the past few terms, the party’s ideals remain the right ones for governing, and that its social agenda of protecting and strengthening families while seeking to protect the unborn remain at the core of the party and its nominee.
All three conversations reveal that the country remains divided over some major issues that simply don’t admit to bipartisan approaches: Should we pursue victory in Iraq and the wider war? Should we go and explore and produce as much of our own energy as possible? Should life in the womb be protected? Should taxes be kept low? Does America still represent the best hope for the planet? Senator Lieberman has put aside his party’s position on victory in Iraq, but he has not done so on many of these other crucial issues, and for those people who fight day in and day out for such things, the veep selection matters a great deal. “Would John McCain ever pick a running mate in favor of retreat in Iraq,” a pro-life activist asked me yesterday. “Of course he wouldn’t,” was the obvious answer, and the activist’s point was made: If Senator McCain genuinely cares about the life issue, he won’t pick a pro-choice running mate.
McCain won big on Saturday and the polls across the board are shifting his way because a solid majority of the country isn’t ready to abandon the idea that America is the world’s leader and is fundamentally a good nation doing great things, as it has been for the past two hundred plus years.
The GOP has championed these core ideas since 1980 and there is no need to apologize for them though the leadership on the Hill failed to execute well in the past few years. Picking a leader within the party as a running mate underscores Senator McCain’s commitment to the ideas that powered the Reagan Revolution, and a bumbling, fumbling, inexperienced Barack Obama has no response to these ideas.
The big shift in the Reuters poll (yes, I know it is Zogby, but the direction counts) is just the latest indication that the public has begun to really examine the four year senator from Illinois and to conclude that it isn’t going to gamble the country’s future on the most radical major party nominee in modern American political history, especially one who has taken to whining about imaginary unfair attacks on his patriotism while dissembling about his record and his associates.
As noted, David Freddoso will be on today’s program discussing his book, The Case Against Barack Obama.
And Archbishop Chaput’s book, Render Unto Caesar, is doing very well on Amazon.com. Get that along with Freddoso’s and save on shipping. Archbishop Chaput, btw, is conspicuously not being invited to bring his pro-life message to the Democratic Convention convening in his Diocese. (Perhaps Father Phleger will be the Roman Catholic representative?)