A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Upon logging on. . .

. . .to Lucianne.com, the single greatest Web site ever devised by mankind, I came upon a column by Michael Medved which dovetails nicely with my previous post on talk radio and its effects on some of the conservative rank and file. If you read some of the responses his article drew at the aforementioned greatest Web site ever devised by mankind, you'll see ample demonstration of what Medved and I are talking about.

Certainly, some of the overheated rhetoric stems from an understandable frustration at seeing your guy lose to a man who was all but dead and buried by both the leading lights in talk radio as well as the eternally loathed mainstream media. Should McCain continue on to win the nomination, much of this knee-jerk rage will abate and conservatives will eventually develop an uneasy coalition around him. While McCain's nomination is still far from locked up, any observer with an ounce of objectivity will recognize that it's become much more likely in light of his victory last night.

I was all set to write an entry on what McCain could do at this point to help his cause when Jonah Goldberg, the immensely talented progeny of the Grand Damme of Lucianne.com, beat me to the punch at The Corner. Obviously, nerves are still raw in the aftermath of South Carolina, so it would do little good for McCain to pick up the phone first thing Monday morning and start dialing up the direct lines to Limbaugh, Ingraham and Hewitt. But, given a week to allow some of the sting to subside, some members of their audiences might be a bit more receptive.

In my (somewhat churlish) post following Romney's preemption of McCain's concession speech, I pointed out that magnanimity counts for something. I can't think of any instance where this would hold more true than in an attempt by McCain to reach out to his most vocal critics. He would, in effect, be asking Rush and his fellow talkers to take a lot of lumps from their respective audiences for merely giving him the time of day. The years of acrimony can't be undone in a single phone call, and it would be too much to expect these influential voices to suddenly put aside everything that's happened since the 2000 elections, when McCain essentially placed himself at odds with them. He has to recognize that they have a responsibility to their audiences to challenge him on the positions that have drawn their opposition.

Yet, he has to do this while making sure not to alienate those who have come to support him out of their admiration for his independence and forthrightness. In short, he has to make it clear that the positions he holds on the issues which create such resistance to his candidacy among talk radio listeners, while sincere, are open to reasonable discussion and debate. It would certainly help his cause, I think, if he were to emphasize a willingness to engage his opponents if they will simply meet him on the playing field. It would also be a good idea for him to point out that he has received as much flak as he's given, and then some, and that he recognizes that we would all benefit from an armistice.

In extending his hand to his opponents, the most important thing McCain can do is to make it clear that he is doing so not out of ambition, but in the interest of his country. He should demonstrate that he recognizes that while it's important for all Americans -- even senators and talk show hosts -- be able to voice their opinions and concerns, it needs to be done in a way that allows people who come to the table in good faith to leave with the sense that their contributions were accepted in the same good faith in which they were offered.

In doing this, it's crucial for John McCain to understand that he will continue to meet with considerable skepticism for some time to come, and simply accept it while leaving the door open for those who wish to accord him the respect he is due in exchange for his willingness to do the same. That, in turn, requires a willingness to listen to his critics, an acknowledgment that he understands their concerns, and the recognition that while they won't always agree, he will make a good-faith effort see things from their point of view without attributing the nefarious motives of a vocal few to the whole of his opposition.

In return, he could ask for his fellow conservatives of good faith to join him in resisting those who attempt to hijack conservatism and tarnish its name and all that it stands for in pursuit of their own narrow, self-serving agenda. As conservatives, we are imminently susceptible to the perception that we are backward-thinking prisoners of age-old prejudices, so we have to be vigilant whenever this bugaboo asserts itself, even at the margins. John McCain should make that case and ask for the help of his fellow conservatives in preventing that perception from taking hold again.

free website counters