Isn't it ironic that GOP moderates are harshly criticizing GOP conservatives for being harshly critical of GOP presidential frontrunner John McCain?
What mortal sins have conservative McCain critics committed? Oh, they've stuck to their conservative principles, fighting for the values they believe in and refusing, prematurely, to surrender. What good would they be if they so readily threw in the towel of defeat?
"Enlightened" moderates are shocked at conservatives, tagging them as uncompromising extremists who represent the very fringe of the Republican Party.
John Dilulio, a principal architect of President Bush's arguably non-conservative, faith-based initiative, is among those making these arguments.
Writing for the Weekly Standard, Dilulio says that only 3.6 percent of Republicans identify themselves as "very conservative." Is Dilulio making the unwarranted leap of implying that McCain's critics come from this 3.6 percent fringe and that mainstream conservatives have no problem with McCain?
If so, and with due respect to Mr. Dilulio, I emphatically reject that only 3.6 percent of Republicans have great difficulty swallowing McCain -- ideologically and personally. McCain isn't winning a majority of Republicans, much less conservative ones, and is relying heavily on Democrat crossovers and independents, not to mention a little help from his friends Mike Huckabee and the mainstream media.
It's easy for moderates to argue that critics of moderates are extreme. That's what moderates always say. They have been complaining about conservatism since I was wearing a "Goldwater for President" T-shirt.
They've said for years that the only way Republicans can win elections is to move to the center. Their opinion is not based on convincing data but wishful thinking. History is not their friend. Republicans win big with conservative ideas, provided they have inspiring candidates. Moderate ideas dilute the message and deflate the movement, zapping it of its verve and enthusiasm.
I have read the reasonable arguments of my friend Bill Bennett and others disputing that John McCain is a liberal. They argue he is a conservative with some liberal positions and that, in any event, he's far more conservative than Hillary or Barack.
Fair enough, though the McCain critics grossly underemphasize the differences and McCain's untrustworthiness. For the record, I can't see myself as ever voting for either Hillary or Barack, two unreconstructed socialists who are soft on defense and enemies of the unborn. But hold your horses. We're not there yet.