None of this would matter, of course, except that issues of national import rest on McCain’s ability to unite the party. His success in reaching out to disenchanted conservatives could affect the future viability of the GOP. Should a split between party regulars and conservatives occur, not only are Republicans consigned to a long period in the wilderness – conservatives themselves will likewise lose their most effective means for enacting their agenda. Even more importantly, the outcome of the upcoming presidential contest has dramatic implications for success in the war on terror, as Mitt Romney recognized last week when he said:
I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror. If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror
There's no doubt that Huckabee has the right to stay in until the convention. But having the right to do something doesn't make it right to do. In placing his own ambitions above principle and party – as well as the national interest in winning the war on terror – Huckabee has made it clear: His character has less in common with that of the Republican former Massaschusetts governor who gracefully left the race last week than with his own Democratic predecessor in the Arkansas governor's mansion.