My brother and I have a running conversation about whether it is a good thing that John McCain didn't become president. We both voted for him, but I decided early on, as much as I oppose every Marx-tinged thing President Obama stands for, I was glad Obama had won and McCain had lost. At least, I was glad McCain had lost.
That's because only out of ashes may the phoenix be reborn. The liberal-lite frustrations of a McCain administration would have smoldered on the Right but lit few fires, dampening the possibility of real post-Bush regeneration. From Bush's "compassionate conservatism" (read: liberalism) to McCain's compassionate bipartisanship (read: more liberalism), the nation would have continued to drift in the wrong direction. The "good" thing about the economy-crashing, military-breaking, ideologically mind-blowing Obama administration is that it puts us on a collision course that just might force Americans to bail and start over in a better way -- metaphorically speaking.
But also, McCain didn't deserve to be president, at least not under the false flag of "conservative." McCain is no conservative, a fact that stands out as he faces a serious Senate primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth, a genuinely conservative former U.S. Representative.
After all, John McCain co-wrote the bill providing, in effect, U.S. citizenship to some 20 million illegal aliens (that's why they called it McCain-Kennedy). He co-wrote the bill restricting political speech (McCain-Feingold). J.D. Hayworth opposed both. As for global-warming legislation -- sorry, "climate change" -- McCain used to lead the floor fight for cap-and-trade (initially known as McCain-Lieberman), but now even the New York Times has noticed McCain has gone mum on the issue and "is likely to keep his distance even more over the next six months due to a primary challenge from a conservative former congressman that threatens to end his Senate career after four terms." And yup, Hayworth opposes cap-and-trade. McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts; Hayworth, as he puts it, helped write them. McCain rules out enhanced interrogations and wants to close Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo). Hayworth supports enhanced interrogations, and wants to keep Gitmo open. The list goes on, but there's no need to draw a picture.
Except, maybe, for the benefit of -- how to put this? -- challenged conservative leaders. These include former Sen. Fred Thompson, and former Govs. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, who, contradicting everything they ever got us to think they stood for, sort of have endorsed McCain. This may burnish "the maverick" with their conservative bona fides. But it also makes those bona fides look more than a little cheap.
Or maybe they just aren't who we think they are. But does it matter? Perception does seem to be everything. In November, Hayworth was polling neck-in-neck with McCain. After Sarah Superstar held out her coattails to McCain -- who, let's not forget, personally, and through his staff, publicly savaged her -- a January poll showed McCain leading Hayworth by 22 points.
So why is McCain running scared? Because he is running scared. At least that's one conclusion to draw from an initial Web ad released by the McCain campaign that stoops to smear Hayworth as a conspiracy nut unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate for having the audacity -- I call it common sense and a little grit -- to point out as a radio host that "questions will remain" until our commander in chief releases the paperwork associated with his birth currently under state seal in Hawaii.
Questions will remain, and do remain, and despite Hayworth spokesman Jason Rose's craven dodge: "Questions were raised on the air. They have been answered." No, they haven't been answered. And that's true largely because of John McCain.
Remember when presidential candidate McCain's own natural-born creds came under question because he was born in the Canal Zone? Naturally, he released his paperwork. He should have then called on his opponent, Barack Obama, to do the same -- naturally. Such leadership would have dispelled all corrosive doubts raised and perpetuated not by "conspiracy nuts" but by the unprecedented lockdown on simple Obama identification -- birth certificate, education transcripts and more -- by the Obama machine, fueled and oiled by a compliant media.
But he didn't -- another reason McCain shouldn't have become president. Now, if conservatives could just retire him from the U.S. Senate.