Hugh Hewitt

In the two days since Florida and in the one day from the debate at the Reagan Library, conservatives across the country are sounding the alarm that John McCain's nomination means the end of the Reagan agenda. Blogger Dan Riehl spelled it out in a reflection on what the Mccain-dominated GOP's party platform would look like, and it isn't pretty.

Columnist Robert Novak confirmed reporter/columnist John Fund's story that McCain wasn't a fan of Justice Alito.

Talk show host Mark Levin penned a cri de coeur at NationalReview.com, one that is repeated again and again by many other veterans of the Reagan Revolution on and off the airwaves.

Talk show hosts Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and me all underscored in hour after hour of programming that conservatives now face a very clear choice: McCain or Romney. A vote for Huckabee or Paul is a vote for McCain.

And in Wednesday night's debate, Romney moved quickly to remind Republican voters that he and John McCain differ sharply on Bush's tax cuts and exploration in ANWR, which McCain opposed, and McCain-Feingold and McCain Kennedy immigration "reform" which McCain not only supported but authored. The two also clashed on global warming, and John McCain's big government "solution" to climate change represents the biggest regulatory burden on business in the modern era. Romney pointed out that the proposal co-authored by Mccain and Joe Lieberman would put a crushing cost on American consumers, ship tens of thousands of jobs out of America, and do nothing to clean the global environment because it is not a global solution.

John McCain saved Romney the trouble of going negative in the debate by putting on open display the temperament that has earned John McCain a measure of infamy in the Senate and beyond, and McCain's refusal to back away from the obvious-to-all low-blow distortion of Romney's Iraq positions left a queasy feeling among even McCain supporters. This was not a display of anything like the skills that would be necessary to defeat Senator Obama in the fall. In fact, just the opposite.

Many heads in the spin room at the debate from which I was broadcasting were shaking after the Giuliani press conference as McCain looked bleached and worn out. They were still shaking after McCain’s shaky debate. On many Republican lips was a familiar name: Bob Dole.

Bob Dole, without the conservative principles, perhaps, or the energy.


Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt is host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Hugh Hewitt's new book is The War On The West.