I have not always seen eye to eye with John McCain on every issue. I believe his involvement with McCain-Feingold campaign reform eventually contributed to his loss in the 2008 presidential election since it hamstrung many who would have gladly helped out a candidate limited to public financing for his campaign at a time when the "free" mainstream media was completely smearing him, his running mate and his record without any blowback. I believe that he was not as on board with the GW Bush budget plan early in Bush's administration as he should have been. I also think that his original stance on illegal immigration was a major turn off to voters that still haunts him to this day. But in focusing on the negatives instead of focusing on the positives, we are missing an opportunity to understand why John McCain deserves our respect.
John McCain was a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution. He campaigned on the same issues that Reagan did. He supported Reagan's rise to the presidency. And because of that loyalty and support, he was elected to the U.S. Senate where he was a champion for the Reagan cause and conservative principles.
As our country drifted away from the ideals of Reagan, John McCain became more of a maverick. He was not a fan of George W. Bush's neo-conservatism, and ran against Bush in the 2000 primaries unsuccessfully. He began to see himself as more of a maverick, taking a more independent role in how he would conduct himself as a senator. But he also became more of a listener, pulse taker and observer of the will of the people. As such, he was usually able to sense when he was on the wrong side of an issue and make the necessary corrections. And when he didn't do this and voted on the wrong side of an issue, he usually lost.
There were times when McCain did not tow the party line on environmental issues and social issues. However, McCain stuck to strong conservative positions on fiscal responsibility and national defense. And when voters were unhappy with his position on illegal immigration, he heard them and fixed it. He actually listened to the people, a quality we should applaud in a candidate. In explaining why he changed his position on immigration reform, McCain said that he recognized that the people wanted our borders secured and existing immigration law to be enforced properly first before we even should consider addressing new immigration laws.
What many fail to miss while criticizing McCain, is that John McCain is not a liberal, a radical or even a true RINO in the sense of the word. According to the American Conservative Union, John McCain had an 82.3% lifetime rating, which in relation to all Senators places him in the center-right column. If the ACU was to assess Scott Brown's voting record in the Massachussetts Senate, they would probably find similar numbers for him, too.
While we are excited and thrilled to elect Scott Brown to the Massachusetts Senate because we are willing to accept the pragmatic facts involved in electing Republicans in Massachusetts, we are not willing to accept a candidate in Arizona just because they aren't 100 %? This is not intellectually honest. Nor does it help the conservative or TEA Party cause at a time when we need to deflect left wing criticism that we are purists trying to purge the Republican party of those who disagree with us and that we are intolerant of being part of a party that should have a big tent.
This is in no way to be intended as an argument for moderating the party or allowing moderates and liberals to participate in the party without opposition such as in primaries, by caucuses and by county party boards. This is just a suggestion that while we should always remain committed to our conservative principles, we should not become so rigid as to make the requirements for participation in the party so stringent that good intentioned, open eared and honorable people can't participate simply because he is not 100% ideologically pure.
Allowing Sarah Palin the right to choose who she wants to support should not be misconstrued as an endorsement of Cindy McCain's position on gay marriage either. We should stand against it as an issue. If your spouse was a loving supportive person who did good things for you, but you disagreed with them on a particular issue, would you divorce them or would you simply stand firm on that one issue?
An 83% ACU rating is not exactly high, but when compared to liberals and true RINO's, it's not exactly low either. The question becomes where do we draw the line? Should we not support candidates who are 80% or under, 85% or under, 90% or under, or more?
Sarah Palin has said we should look to the planks of the Republican party platform for the standards. John McCain is pretty closely aligned with the big ones: national defense, fiscal responsibility and life. If he goes off the beaten trail on some of the lesser issues, while it's worthy of criticism and may bring his ACU score lower, it's not enough to lump him in with Dede Scozzafava, Arnold Schwartzenegger and Charlie Crist.
In our quest to oppose RINO's, we should not throw out a loyal member of the Republican party or call him a RINO just because he doesn't look as nice as the rest of the elephants. He's still an elephant, and until he votes for Cap and Trade, Obamacare, amnesty for illegals or socializing our banking system, we should consider him as inside the tent.
The best argument for John McCain is made by Sarah Palin herself who said to look at what McCain has done since the presidential election. Since returning to the Senate, John McCain has been at the front, sword unsheathed, in the fight against Obamacare. Some of the greatest moments in the fight are clips of him on the Senate floor telling the Senate that it's a scam and telling AARP members to rip up their cards. He frequently criticizes the president on matters of national security as well and is against the closing of Gitmo.
One can play Monday morning quarterback and second guess many of McCain's campaign decisions during the presidential race. We all know Steve Schmidt was a disaster. But we can also remember one key stroke of pure genius. When considering Joe Lieberman to be his running mate, McCain was principled enough and politically smart enough to listen to the people and realize that it would not be a good choice for the party. Knowing that the Republican party is a conservative party who perceived him as a moderate, he chose a running mate more conservative than he was.
John McCain is not the conservative that Ronald Reagan was. But John McCain owed Reagan and the nation a huge debt. Reagan and the conservative revolution changed John McCain's life. He instantly was elevated to the U.S. Senate and would eventually run for president on several occassions.
Would one consider McCain as selling out because he chose a running mate whose views were not purely consistent with his? Or would you consider it the right thing to do to be loyal to the wing of the party that got him into the Senate in the first place many years ago and eventually allowed him the opportunity to run for president.
I said John McCain owed (past tense) the nation a debt. He has since paid it back. In doing so, McCain fundamentally placed his mark on the history of our republic by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate and introducing her to us.
I watch people criticize McCain. I've criticized McCain. I've gotten so mad that Brett Baier quoted this blog on Special Report, and it was quoted on CNN's Political Ticker. But I also know that since then, McCain has heard us. He has stood by Sarah Palin. He has defended her and spoken highly of her. McCain listens to us, unlike most of the other people in his profession.
Sit down with yourself and examine how deeply you feel about Sarah Palin. Isn't it fantastic that we are not hopeless and filled with despair during the Obama years? Isn't it enough that we don't have to hold the knife to our wrists or the gun to our heads every time President Obama is on TV, that we can instead go onto Sarah Palin's Facebook page or come here to be reassured that there is hope and that there is a future even as we watch the "annointed one" tearing apart our Constitution and our country?
To whom do we owe our debt of gratitude for this? We owe the same debt that Sarah Palin owes. John McCain, foot soldier to our last great one is the historical bridge between that last great one and the next great one. John McCain introduced Sarah Palin to America and it changed Sarah Palin's life the same way Ronald Reagan changed John McCain's life when he introduced McCain to the voters of Arizona and endorsed him for the Senate.
Many may be too young to remember this. Some may just have not made the connection. But no one needs to leave the Palin fold because they are expressing opinions or seeking answers. Nor does Sarah need to clarify her politics because she's supporting McCain.
Just consider this. John McCain deserves our respect not only because he is a great war hero, but because he gave Sarah Palin the opportunity to run for vice president. If Sarah Palin did not repay this debt and turned her back on him because some of her supporters don't like him, that would turn Sarah into something that we wouldn't like, an ingrate.
If there was no Ronald Reagan, there would have been no John McCain. And if there had been no John McCain, there would be no Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin is not selling out. She does not need to explain. If John McCain did for you what he did for her, would you not support him? There's a difference between selling out and repaying a huge debt for something that has caused the future our republic be forever changed in such a positive way.