To many of the folks over at NRO's The Corner, the prospect of a McCain sweep today is being looked at rather like a hangman's noose. Some have gone so far as to suggest that the conservative movement would be better off spending 4-8 years "in the wilderness" under a President Hillary than under a President McCain. The theory is, that with a clear foe in the White House, conservatives would have to go off and re-group and come up with new ideas.
While I normally enjoy National Review a great deal, I've been having an oddly distant feel reading their election coverate lately. Perhaps part of this is that while many of their regular writers seem to have latched onto Romney as the best way of avoiding McCain, I'm unclear in my mind as to whether Romney would actually govern noticably more conservatively than McCain. Yes, he's running to the right of McCain at the moment, but given he re-invention over the last couple years, I'm not sure how solidly I believe it. President Bush has not governed as a movement conservative, and I suspect that Romney would, if anything, be even less so than Bush.
Now, McCain is clearly not a movement conservative either. The difference is, everyone seems pretty clear on that. Given the fits they're having about him at the moment, it seems to me that conservative writers should be motivated by a McCain presidency to go off, do some thinking, and come up with some direction which has in many ways been lacking since the days of the Contract With America. With a President Romney, on the other hand (assuming he could even win the White House, which I kind of doubt) I fear we'd have another case of conservative writers spending much of their efforts running cover for a president who is not actually governing that conservatively.
In other words, couldn't we spend our time in the wilderness under a President McCain rather than a President Hillary?
Call me crazy, but I think McCain would do much less damage to the country than Hillary would. And unlike the prospect of a Giuliani presidency, I don't think that McCain winning would do long term damage to the political alignment of the Repulican party. McCain is made possible by the unique blend of his biography, his perceived (and sometimes real) centrism, and his clear representation of a break with the unpopular current administration. (With disapproval ratings for Bush around 65%, there are clearly Republicans who don't think he's doing a good job as well as Democrats.)
That said, since we don't vote here till March 4th, I'm currently sitting and waiting to see what will happen by then. My interest in a McCain nomination is partly a reflection of not being greatly impressed with any of the candidates.
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