It ain't exactly love. . .
Of course, that task gets a little more difficult when emails like the one posted today by Mark Levin start circulating. As a member of the McCain Victory '08 blogroll, I never received a copy of that particular email, and I'm a little curious as to how Levin got a copy while I didn't. Whatever the case, I don't think it was helpful.
The fact of the matter is that, while I'm ready to fight like hell for McCain without the help of disenchanted conservatives, I would much prefer that it not come down to that. I don't think McCain's cause is helped in any way by marginalizing a considerable chunk of his party's members, and a great many members are influenced by Limbaugh, Ingraham, and Hewitt. And, when you have Ann Coulter running around peddling addle-brained notions like supporting Hillary, it seems rather destructive to our overall aim if we chase influential people into her camp by advocating boycotts against the ones who can be reasoned with.
A few weeks ago, Michael Medved expressed his belief that talk radio was the big loser in the South Carolina primary. I'll admit that there is some temptation to leap to that conclusion, given the daily shellacking that McCain takes from most its hosts, but it's not clear at all that this is correct. And, even if it were, I'm not so sure it's something to be crowing about. For one thing, just because McCain has managed to secure victories in spite of talk radio's efforts against him, it doesn't necessarily follow that you can duplicate that success in the future. And, even if he could continue to roll on without the help of talk radio, why would anyone want to?
While Limbaugh et al. may never be as enthusiastic toward McCain as they would Fred Thompson, having a voice of encouragement reaching your voters on behalf of your man for several hours a day heading into the general election is a wonderful thing. And, even if they're not cheerleading for McCain and glossing over his every shortcoming, the very least they will do is be a reliable source of Clinton criticism. Why further alienate those who, if nothing else, are more than happy to damage your opponent?
While I'm not an avid listener, I do recognize that talk radio has been a valuable asset for conservatives for a couple of decades, now. And, as a conservative, I remember a time when talk radio and a few magazines were all that we had. We should be in no hurry to cast aside all that talk radio has helped us to accomplish over the years.
At the same time, I think it's important that all the establishment conservative media recognize that there is a place for moderation within the GOP, and without those moderates, we're just as lost as we would be if we gave up on conservatism completely. I also think that talk radio and other conservative leaders ought to step back and reflect on how they may have contributed to the disunity within the GOP rank and file today. The past three years have not been pleasant ones for conservatives, and it's not all the fault of President Bush.
Strong, spirited debate within a party is a very healthy thing. It's actually vital to maintaining the intellectual energy needed in order to keep a party viable over time. It's how new ideas are generated, and new thinkers are discovered.
But, when insult, accusation, and mockery become acceptable substitutes for debate, it has the effect of setting a party's constituents against each other with a kind of vehemence and personal disdain that can create permanent fissures. Of course, politics has never been free of that kind of influence. But, I don't remember any time in my life when the conservative movement has been as riven with internal strife as it is right now. Granted, I'm a child of the Reagan era, so my political memory isn't all that long.
But, it's long enough to remember the Clinton administration and all that was done and not done during those years to head off the threat our nation faces today. If we're to face down that threat, we're going to need at least one of the parties to remain resolute in fighting it. That party is obviously not going to be the Democrats. And, unless something changes within the GOP between now and November, it won't be the Republicans, either.
What are we going to do then?