Monday, February 25, 2008

Week of 02/25/2008

McCain: Conservative’s Broccoli
– by David Matthews 2

Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t like to eat certain foods that were put before you?

One of the most common disliked foods was broccoli, and although this commentator didn’t mind it, I can understand the dislike kids have for it. I had the same experience with summer squash and eggplant.

Parents, of course, would have none of that.

At first they will try reasoning with you. They’ll say “You won’t like it until you try it.” Never mind that we already tried it and we hate it.

Then they try the guilt trip. “There are starving children in Africa that would KILL to eat what you’re having.” GREAT! Where’s the box? Let’s UPS it over to them!

Finally, of course, parents will turn to that little inner-dictator of theirs.

“You will eat what is put before you and YOU WILL LIKE IT!”

By the way, parents, that little unrealistic demand of yours will come back to haunt you when your child grows up. My parents used to use hot sauce as a punishment, and now I pay them back every time I cook up hot wings.

But that little exclamation from the parents, and their unrealistic demand that “you will LIKE IT” only reassured the belief in the little tykes that if they so wished it, all broccoli would disappear from the face of the planet. So while they would consume the broccoli, under duress, they would learn to hate broccoli. They would detest it. And there would be nothing that the parents could do to change that view, because they pretty much pissed away that possibility with that final inner-dictator demand of theirs that their kids “LIKE IT”.

Well the same effect is apparently occurring to another bunch of “children” in a much larger “family” of sorts. Of course these “children” are all adults, and the “family” is a fraternal one instead of blood relations. In this case, the “family” is the “big tent” organization called the Grand Old Party. You may remember them as “Republicans”.

You know these “children” too. They go by last names like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter. And for the longest time they and their friends have ruled the political roost, and they have made their fortunes screaming and shouting against liberals and anyone else who doesn’t think like them. They have taken pride in their dominance, boasting about the power of their voices and the influence it has over the party, and consequentially the whole country.

They have propped themselves up as the measuring stick of all things conservative, condemning those who do not meet their standards and crucifying those who attempt to dilute the conservative dominance. To these “children”, there IS no such thing as a “big tent” for the Republicans… unless, of course, that “big tent” is a REVIVAL tent, with Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and others serving as the ministers seeking to bring the masses in “to see the light”.

And like any real child, these “Children” that go by names like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter all have a passionate dislike of broccoli… which, in this case, is a career politician named Senator John McCain from Ohio. They just don’t like him. They’ll work with him as long as he has that “R” next to his name. They’ll back him AS a Republican against the Democrats, but they don’t like him. And they certainly don’t want him running the country!

Unfortunately they probably won’t have a choice in the matter.

Up until the big Super Tuesday primary, there were plenty of choices for the GOP “children” to turn to, and they were quick to squabble over which candidate was better. They haggled over whether voters would back a Mormon like Governor Mitt Romney, or a former minister like Mike Huckabee, or the McCarthy-esque antics of so-called “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani. They were disappointed by Fred Thompson’s non-performance, and wouldn’t mind if former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took a shot at the White House.

As for McCain, though, they were all united in their feelings for him. Screw him! McCain was deemed too “dangerous” to be considered. They dismissed his run for the White House as rehash from the original 2000 run, where he soundly lost to George W. Bush, their beloved glorious leader. They chuckled at the news that his “Straight-Talk Express” was losing steam and his finances were drying up. They all were waiting for the announcement that they believed was inevitable; that McCain would be suspending his campaign and ending his dreams of running for the White House.

But then a funny thing happened…

John McCain actually started WINNING primaries and caucuses!

The first few times were considered flukes. But then there were others. Voters were tapping McCain over their “chosen” favorites. He started collecting serious party delegates. He even got the endorsement of the New York Times!

Then the favorites started to go. Giuliani, the favored son of the Fox News commentators, sabotaged his own campaign early and never could recover. Thompson folded like a house of cards. But that didn’t matter to these “children” of the conservative cause. They still had their BIG NAMES in the running, and plenty of delegate-rich states to call upon.

And then Romney dropped out.

You could actually hear the cries of desperation from the conservatives as Romney made his big statement. It was that same crestfallen expression when they found out that Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s while he was President, or when George H.W. Bush went back on his “No new taxes” promise, or when they got their much-deserved 2006 mid-term ass-kicking.

And not only did Romney drop out, but he then turned everything over to the candidate that he felt was better suited for the job… John McCain!

Suddenly the “children” of the conservative causes… the people like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter… may have to accept the bitter reality that their worst nightmare is coming true… and that John McCain would become the Republican Party nominee for the 2008 Presidential Election.

That’s when the “child” in these political children suddenly came out.

“NOOOOOOOO!” they cried out. “Not McCain! Anyone but McCain! We won’t support him! We HATE McCain! McCain is evil!”

Rush Limbaugh has launched an endless diatribe about McCain. Ann Coulter herself was pretty vocal about her willingness to even support Hillary Rodham Clinton get into the White House just to keep it away from McCain. Sean Hannity jumped in as well. Glen Beck even said that he would rather vote for Hillary over McCain.

It makes you wonder what it is about John McCain that makes these “children” of the endless conservative crusade throw literal temper tantrums in the media. And… whatever it is, can it be mass-produced so that it will make their heads pop in sheer desperation?

This isn’t the first time that a “non-conservative” made it through to the finals in our little skewed “Presidential Idol” show. Senator Bob Dole was also one of those folks who really didn’t fit the conservative standards that the water-carriers wanted back in 1996. But when the numbers were crunched and the also-rans quit, Dole became the nominee and the conservatives backed him wholeheartedly.

So what is it about McCain that makes the conservative standard-bearers throw screaming fits? What is it that makes John McCain so damned “dangerous”?

Well there are several reasons behind that pronouncement.

The first is McCain’s stance as a reformer. This is a man that was a part of the dreaded Keating Five scandal of the 1980’s who then used it to reinvent himself as a crusader for campaign finance reform. Conservatives love campaign finance reform, but only so far as it would limit the campaigns of their opponents, NOT to limit themselves. And yet, there was McCain, pushing for and getting draconian limitations that would hurt their cause. And even when he got those limits, he was pushing for even more limits, and in ways that would HURT his fellow Republicans, not to mention the very “children” of the conservative cause.

The second is McCain’s flip-flopping on his stances. In the 2000 campaign he was critical of the role of organized religion in politics. Then he sucked up to the hell-bound blowhard Jerry Falwell prior to his death and made a speech at his university. He was a former POW, but he flip-flopped on torture. He was a critic of George W. Bush, but now he promises to pick up the overused 9/11 banner and run with it. He even one-upped Junior on the cheap antics with his little “Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Iran” song.

And perhaps the most unforgivable for the Limbaughs and Hannties and Coulters of the world is the simple fact that John McCain is a career insider who has no problem whatsoever working with anyone to get his agendas passed. That includes working closely with… dare I say it… LIBERAL DEMOCRATS!

SACRELEGE! HOW DARE John McCain do that!

Suddenly the reasons for the temper tantrums become painfully clear. John McCain is despised by the “children” of the conservative cause because he doesn’t adhere to their zero-sum extremist line. He can’t be controlled by the conservatives like Dole could in 1996. McCain will say what needs to be said to get his way and he will use anything and anyone to get his way. That’s why he’s “dangerous”. He’s dangerous to the conservatives! He wants to use them instead of letting it be the other way around.

Now let’s get brutally honest here… the temper tantrums being thrown by the “children” of the conservative cause are really doing themselves and their party a disservice. I can understand why they are pissed off but that doesn’t mean that they should be throwing fits over the choices made by the voters.

If anything, their continued temper tantrums are giving Republican voters even MORE reasons to vote for McCain! They’re seeing someone who won’t kowtow to the conservative extremists. They’re seeing someone who would be willing to work WITH the Democrats in Congress to get business done rather than play puissant partisan games. And when the alternative is either a born-again former minister-slash-governor from a state in the “Deep South”, or a libertarian-leaning congressman that most people don’t really know too much about (thanks to the media and the GOP hacks), voters are going to go with a name that they know.

And let’s face it, not everyone who votes in Republican primaries has been “Hannitized” or “Coulter-Shocked” or converted over to the First Church of the Half-Deaf Pill-Popping Dittohead. There are quite a few folks who look at these conservative “children” and see them for the spoiled brats that they carry themselves as, and while they may agree with most of the arguments made by these media “personalities”, they certainly get turned off by their partisan antics. They may end up voting for McCain just to spite them.

Here’s the funny part: even though they are screaming and shouting and railing on against it, the folks like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter will probably end up swallowing their pride and backing the GOP nominee anyway, even if it is McCain. And they’ll give some half-assed reason for it, such as saying that “the good of the party” is more important.

In truth, though, it will all boil down to power and access. Back McCain as the GOP nominee, and if he gets elected president, then the conservative “children” will have access to the White House like they currently do with the Bush Imperium. Back the Democrat nominee and there is no such guarantee. And they DO love those little perks from the White House.

Much like the actual green vegetable, John McCain is the political broccoli that may be “good” for the Republicans, and even if they won’t “like it”, the children of the conservative cause will eventually “eat it”.

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