Once a RINO, always a RINO

I'll start with a comment left to the post I wrote late last night:

I suspect that some conservatives are thinking in terms of the 'putting a frog into a pot of hot water' analogy as opposed to a slow, drawn out death from creeping socialism and the steady encroachment of nanny-statism.
Zoological accuracy aside, creeping socialism and steady nanny-state encroachment have certainly been the case with the Bush administration, and I think that because of the nature of government, would be the case with any Republican administration.

Including Romney's.

The objections to McCain are easy enough to understand. Far be it from me to defend him (especially after years of attacking him). Besides, I haven't endorsed McCain. Unless my slight preference of him to Romney can be called an "endorsement." (Which means I "endorsed" Obama by preferring him to Hillary.)

Bear in mind that on a personal level, it won't matter in the least which one of these men I vote for, as I live in Pennsylvania, a state which is "utterly irrelevant in the nomination of presidential candidates."

But hey, I have until April 22 to make up my mind! Who knows? By then, maybe Romney will come out in favor of legalizing drugs, and I'll have to vote for him!

What I find the most remarkable about the current debate is the way Romney is being spun as a conservative hero, even though he has been considered a RINO for years. (Of course, no one seems to be paying any attention to McCain's 82.3% ACU rating, his 82.7% ATR rating, or his zero NARAL rating. That, of course, is because he's said to be indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton, who's rated 9% by the ACU, 6.7% by ATR, and 100% by NARAL.)

FWIW, my official conservative rating is only 80% -- nearly three points lower than McCain's.

As I said, I'll vote for whichever of the two gets the nomination, because either one is far better than a return to power of the most corrupt administration in recent memory. Saying there's no difference between McCain and the Clintons is a major distortion of history, and (at least to the extent character is taken into account) an arguably worse smear against McCain than any of the political accusations.

Whether character matters is beside the point, which is whether slow socialism is better than quick socialism. My fear is that there's just not that much time left for American freedom, period. The leftists are picking up momentum, and changing demographics are on their side. And in any event, we are ruled day-to-day by the entrenched, unelected, ever-growing commissariat of bureaucrats and academicians, not those who are officially elected, but who in practice have only a limted role.

Bear in mind that the Clintons were reelected in 1996, and if elected this November, they'll be reelected again in 2012. Fast-paced socialism for eight years coupled with changing demographics means the Republicans will either have to change, or simply go into a long period of being an out-of-power opposition party. With principles. (If I want a party which shares my principles, I suppose I could launch the "Small-L-libertarian Pro-War Pagan Christian Party.)

Personally, I have mixed feelings. As a libertarian who can't honestly wear the conservative label (I've called myself a "Goldwater liberal" repeatedly), I've long since become accustomed to holding my nose and voting for the GOP candidate. To the extent that voting for someone you don't agree with violates one's principles (some of the leading bloggers who feel that way are linked here), then my principles have been violated -- long and hard -- for many, many years. I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, then Bob Dole in 1996, and the GOP ever since. I always feel uncomfortable with my vote because I always know that there are a number of major issues and positions on which I disagree, no matter who the candidate is.

But let me put aside my distrust of all politicians, my misgivings about conservatism and my abiding hatred of socialism and nanny statism and look at this strategically. Assume that McCain is and always has been a reprehensible RINO and a Republican socialist no different from the Clintons, and assume that Romney is and always has been a true, 100% conservative. Absent a bizarre intervening event, either McCain or Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. The consensus of the pollsters is that McCain has a much better chance than Romney of beating Hillary, but I agree with this analysis that a Democratic victory is likely either way. If McCain loses, conservatives can be expected to rebound within the GOP, because they'll be able to blame him and the RINOs for the party's defeat.

But if Romney is the candidate and he loses, then what? Will conservatives get the blame? I don't think so. I think it is more likely that the ideologues (including many of the people loudly claiming his conservative bona fides right now) will be howling that Romney was nothing but a RINO all along -- as if they had never seen indictments like this -- and they'll still scream that only a "true conservative" can save conservatism and the GOP.

What doesn't seem to matter (at least, to the true ideological conservatives) is whether a true conservative ideologue can win.

If I thought Romney actually was a true ideological conservative, it would be an interesting experiment. But the experiment won't work, because if he loses, he'll be what he was before, just another RINO.

Forgive my cynicism, but I'm as unimpressed by the claim that Romney's a true conservative as I am by the claim that McCain is just like Hillary.

As to selecting the speed of inevitable nanny-state socialism, yes, I prefer to slow it down if I can.

Gives me more time to plan my escape.

A useless RINO radical libertarian politically homeless conservative Goldwater liberal I may be, but I am not a frog.

MORE:Jonah Goldberg is unpersuaded by the idea that McCain will doom the country:

...I disagree with the tone, tenor and substance of much -- though certainly not all -- of the anti-McCain commentary around here. It's not that I object to a single post or comment -- though there've been a few. It's that I disagree with the overwhelming impression that supporting McCain is some kind of lunacy. I have serious disagreements with McCain. I think it is entirely right to disagree with him on all sorts of issues and entirely legitimate to think he would be bad for the party, bad for conservatism or bad for the country to have him as the nominee or the next president. I agree with some of those sentiments, disagree with others.

But this disaster talk leaves me cold. McCain wouldn't be my first pick. Then again, none of the candidates were really my first pick. But I think the notion that, variously, conservatism, the country or the party are doomed if he's the nominee or the president is pretty absurd.

Via Glenn Reynolds, who characterized Goldberg's view as "PRO-MCCAIN HERESY AT THE CORNER."

Well, at least it's not apostasy!

posted by Eric on 02.01.08 at 09:42 AM


Bill Clinton's first federal budget - $1,409 billion
Bill Clinton's last federal budget - $1,863 billion

A 32% increase over 8 years

George Bush's first federal budget - $2,011 billion
George Bush's last federal budget - $2,985 billion (est.)

A 48% increase over 8 years

When did the "fast-paced socialism" take place?

alphie   ·  February 1, 2008 11:25 AM

I certainly do not think there is a big problem with McCain destroying the Republican party. A lot of the hard-core conservatives tend to forget that what one might call the "forgotten majority" of Republican voters is fairly middle-of-the-road on a lot of issues. As a recent article in the London Telegraph put it, many McCain voters like lower taxes but do not lose sleep over the fact that abortion is legal. These are the people Reagan appealed to. Moderates, RINOs, Northeasterners, whatever horrid thing Rush might wish to call them, they are the people supporting McCain and they are the people who hold the balance of this election. But I do not think that the far right of the party respects these people at all.

john   ·  February 1, 2008 12:38 PM

I'm pretty sure that both McCain and the Democrat nominee will be terrible for the country. I'll vote for the Dem just to make sure the right party gets blamed.

Phelps   ·  February 1, 2008 1:32 PM

it is amazing how people concerned about personal freedom accept the inevitable argument right down to their bones. Defeat, Vietnam, Iraq, supreme court, senate, immigration , , is inevitable. Don;t you think the political calculus will change immediately as soon as the first European Nation falls into chaos?

Doug_S   ·  February 1, 2008 1:35 PM

"Gives me more time to plan my escape."

Unless you have a Faster-Than-Light drive and a hospitable planet already picked out that will take a while, no?

guy   ·  February 1, 2008 1:43 PM

I have no problem with anyone on the right supporting their candidate for the Republican nomination -- I think they have made a mistake and fallen for some pretty obvious flip-flops on the part of Romney, who ran for Governor in Massachusetts declaring how he was NOT one of "those conservatives," but I also understand that there is not a super-conservative candidate in the race this time, and you have to go with somebody.

I am dismayed, though, that so many of us on the Right are falling into the "there is no difference between McCain and Hillary, so I'll vote for her" line.

While McCain has supported some things with which many of us disagree, he has been and always will be staunchly pro-life, pro gun-owners'-rights, pro restraint in government spending, pro military, pro winning the war in Iraq, etc. He also does not serve as a handy conduit to get Bill Clinton's sorry butt back into the White House.It seems to me not honest to say there is no difference between Hillary and McCain, and to be very far from committed conservatism to say, "vote for Hillary in November."

I would say that conservative leaders offering support to Hillary are worse than Republicans in Name Only -- they are acting like Democrats in All But Name. The election of Hillary Clinton would be a disaster for this country that we cannot allow, that ANY Republican nominee from the three choices remaining is a better choice, even if not our first choice.

Jim M   ·  February 1, 2008 2:33 PM

You know, there are FOUR Republican choices remaining, and despite the bad impression a lot of his followers may give you, Ron Paul is the most pro-freedom of them all.

I'll agree that his Iraq policy is wrong (I would favor stabilizing the country before leaving myself), but what he says about America's empire is pretty much right on. Why are we spending taxpayer money to defend Germany, Japan, and South Korea? Why are we giving money to both Israel, and the countries that want to destroy Israel? Isn't this policy really the crazy one?

Disagree with Paul if you like, I do on many topics but I still see him as the most pro-liberty of any other candidate. It really kind of disgusts me to see self proclaimed libertarians behaving as though the man doesn't even exist.

Pax   ·  February 1, 2008 3:37 PM

A few things:

1) The salient point about the "boiling the frog" analogy is that, if you turn the heat up -fast- enough, the frog will actually jump out of the pot. The whole point of the analogy is that the electorate will hopefully do the same thing if they're whalloped with colossal failures like Hillary-care, whereas if the socialism is turned up slowly under a RINO, they'll complacently let themselves boil to death.

2) Romney -is- a RINO, just not quite as much of one as McCain, and I really haven't seen many people argue otherwise. My own personal feeling is that Romney will -probably- screw conservatives, while McCain definitely will. Another possible point in Romney's favor is that, while he's certainly been lying to -someone-, it's possible he is at heart a conservative who was willing to lie to MA voters in order to get elected, rather than the other way around. There is no such possible interpretation of McCain's history. He -loves- screwing conservatives over.

3) Reagan couldn't win when he tried to follow Ford, but he won when he followed Carter. Just sayin'.


Qwinn   ·  February 1, 2008 7:27 PM

I have problems with the entire field as it is, and as a non-R and non-D, I find this set of candidates awful. My problems with the D side are pretty much total non-agreement on the direction being taken, and the influence of organized crime on the parts of the remaining candidates there. They do not represent my concept of Nation, democracy, federalism, or even basic accountability... which is true of the entire Congress.

I will not be voting for *any* Congresscritter that has matriculated through since 1986: if they can't keep a promise to the American People, then they do not deserve any support for any office. There are rare exceptions, but none of those are running.

What has gotten me by those looking at the candidates is to blithely assume that their purported strengths are actually that. I find it troubling that Mitt Romney isn't able to describe the current federal tax structure on venture capitalists and decries people who invest outside of MA, as governor, on the fact that he can't tax them. While having exactly the *same* overseas ventures that profit him greatly. His increases on business taxes and 'fees', which MA has a plethora of and makes it difficult to sneeze without paying a 'fee', makes his fiscal stances less than good. Also, there is no line-item veto for the President and the SCOTUS has ruled on that, so when you take out *those* things his fiscal powers and views come up short. His connection to Huawei Tech., a front company for the People's Liberation Army, and the minority investment ownership that it wants with Mitt Romney in 3COM (along with the 'business' practices of Huawei) need hard and deep explaining.

So, no, Mitt isn't that hot, but has shown some adaptability and ability to learn.

OTOH, John McCain I find to be detestable for his prevarication on the activities he has taken, his inability to understand that armed forces size and structure helps to define just how many 'boots on the ground' can be put down, and how many giving his ACU rating haven't bothered to look at it and find that he hasn't scored above his current average since 1996... that means his 'conservative' years were before that. Then there are the connections via Keating not *just* to the S&L scandal but to an even larger one that no one talks about: BCCI. The list of account holders includes a plethora of high government officials globally, as well as every tyrant, dictator, arms merchant and organized crime outfit that could get an account.... which was as simple as plunking down some cash and opening one. That entire set of connections made during that era have never been fully investigated because looking into such things quickly turns up dirty connections. Can't have that as a 'reformer' now, can we? His entire view of 'reforming' politics could have started off not at campaign finances, but pushing through Senate rules (just *rules* not law) on barring individuals taking money from industrial and other organizations from drafting or voting on such things. Those can be done via Senate rules of ethics. Instead we get 'campaign finance reform' meant to shut down free speech, and he was doing that quite some time before McCain-Feingold. Can't hold politicians accountable for the money they take, as that would be too much 'reform' for John McCain. Worst of all is his military views, that started with cutting DoD in 1992 for a 'peace dividend' and claiming to be 'conservative' because he wanted to cut it *less* than Democrats wanted to. Mind you the budget was submitted by a Republican... by the mid-1990's and giving President Clinton a blank check on Kosovo, Bosnia and wherever his little heart wanted to put soldiers at risk, John McCain did not back the concept that when not at war Congress does have a role on the force size and structure involved and by not either confronting the President to ask 'just what is the force you are looking for' or to ask 'why are you hurting military readiness with unauthorized, multi-year deployments in hostile areas', he would help lead to two US Army Divisions falling to the lowest readiness since Vietnam. And since one of those was 10MD, when 2001 rolled around and Mountain Warfare was needed, they were still *months* from getting final equipment, personnel, training and logistics finished.

Military affairs is supposed to be a strength, no? So why did he propose in the 1990's that 1/3 of the armed forces doesn't need to be at a high level of readiness? Am I the only one to remember these things? Or are they so painful to remember that one just glosses over them in the long-term career political assessment of an individual running for President?

I have three Senators I won't vote for or even trust with a bag of cookies. And one businessman that has problems actually explaining difficult things that he should be a whiz at, if you listen to the PR about him, but who just might be able to do OJT and tread water for a year or so before learning the job.

US politics is about to get shaken and hard, and these two parties will not get through that with their present alignment and ideologies. And if you think what we have now is bad, you haven't seen anything yet.

ajacksonian   ·  February 2, 2008 7:34 AM

As much as try, I can't see the long-term future of left/liberal Big Government politics. As much as left-leaning academics and think tankers attempt to divert attention, the numbers seem to make the bankruptcy of Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security inevitable. With the entitlement structure collapsing, how can the Nanny state concept remain viable? I suppose world temperatures could continue to rise (or regain their upward track), which might be enough to maintain the momentum. But absent that, what keeps the left's balloon in the air? Unfortunately, we're going to have to put up with Hillary for at least four years while we wait. Hillary vs McCain = Bill vs Dole. Remember how that turned out.

boqueronman   ·  February 2, 2008 6:41 PM

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