A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Limbaugh Jihad. . .

. . .continues against John McCain and any other Republican who isn't an across-the-board conservative. That, my friends, is part of the problem that Republicans face today. You see, Limbaugh, Ingraham, and so many other conservative commentators who make their living doling out red meat to the most carnivorous among us are often compelled to tear the flesh from the bones of more moderate Republicans in order to keep their audiences well-fed, and to show that they're not mere party hacks. It's the conservative flip-side to Barack Obama's quest for black authenticity.

If you aren't giving Republicans hell when they stray from the pack, then you're no better than Ted Kennedy, the wisdom goes. Well, it's high time that conservatives saw past all the showmanship and finally get real. In order to get anything accomplished, there are times when senators and congressmen have to make some strange bedfellows. Thus it ever was.

That doesn't mean that conservatives ought to shed their integrity for the sake of political expediency. Recruiting Ted Kennedy will do the GOP no more good than would recruiting Ru Paul. But, for heaven's sake, isn't it better to have Richard Riordan in the California delegation than it is to have Barbara Boxer or Diane Feinstein? Yes, they have similar positions on social issues. That's the price of being an elected official in California. But, Riordan at least would cast the occasional vote against raising taxes and might be a bit more reliable a vote against regulatory excess. There is something to be said for that.

Someone whose opinion I have grown to respect considerably over the years recently inveighed against the idea of supporting moderate Republicans in places where they might have a chance of getting elected as opposed to allowing the Democrats to simply snatch up valuable congressional seats by insisting on running candidates who have no chance of getting elected. His logic held that once moderate Democrats get elected, they conveniently forget all about the idea of moderation and start marching in lockstep with the left-liberal leadership, whereas moderate Republicans feel no compunction to cast a single conservative vote once elected.

He is not alone in his way of thinking, and it's a way of thinking that is reinforced by many radio talkers, columnists and commentators every day as they rail against apostate Republicans for casting votes that don't comport with the accepted definition of conservatism. Yet, an honest appraisal of the voting patterns of moderate and even liberal Republicans in the Senate shows that they are, more often than not, more reliably conservative than supposedly moderate and conservative Democrat senators. The ACU ratings of the Senate from 2006 back up my assertion. For instance, Chuck Hagel is almost unanimously considered a liberal Republican. Yet, his ACU rating for '06 is a pretty respectable 75%. Contrast this with Evan Bayh, who is considered the very model of Democrat moderation as a member of the Democratic Leadership Council. His ACU rating for '06 is a very unimpressive 16.

Of course, there are Senate Democrats who tend to vote more conservatively than does Bayh. Kent Conrad's ACU rating is a relatively respectable (in Senate Dem terms) 33%, which puts him roughly in line with Republican Olympia Snowe, who votes conservative at a 36% rate. But, even if Snowe is only conservative about one third of the time, that's still a pretty favorable rating when you compare it to Evan Bayh or Mary Landrieu, at 24%.

The upshot of all of this is that there is no good reason for conservative Republicans to concede legislative seats to Democrats. Quite simply, any seat where you can elect an even slightly more conservative candidate than the Democrats are offering is a seat that Republicans should be fighting for. Our conservative punditry can sit on the sidelines giving raspberries all day long, but when all is said and done, the object is to put a legislative agenda into practice, and if you can gain a five percent advantage toward that end, it ought to be taken until a ten percent advantage presents itself.

Of course, this will cause a lot of people's ears to suddenly be pinned back as an affront to their principles. Indeed, it isn't easy to vote for someone with whom you don't agree half the time, or less. But, in sitting on your vote, you can rest assured that there are plenty of people who are more than happy to vote for someone with whom you agree zero percent of the time. And, while conservatives sit home soaking their principles in cheap scotch, the folks who put in your arch-nemesis will be popping champagne corks and looking forward to sticking it to you on every single vote that passes through the legislative body.

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