As to the war, most conservatives, as well as many others, believe that our liberation of that country helped keep American safe. It keeps terrorists preoccupied with what Osama bin Laden himself called the central front. McCain consistently supports the war in Iraq, and enthusiastically backed "the surge," a new approach that caused a dramatic decline in violence along with some signs of political reconciliation. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, damn the consequences.
As for the economy, don't conservatives believe that the Bush tax cuts helped to jump-start the economy, expand family income, and create jobs? Sen. McCain voted for the extension of the Bush tax cuts in 2006, and supports the repeal of the death tax. His Democratic opponents promise to repeal the cuts and increase taxes on the so-called rich. Campaign promises made separately by Clinton and Obama would grow the budget by between $200 billion and $300 billion annually.
As to the Supreme Court, think of the many 5-4 decisions, including but not limited to, Bush v. Gore, the decision that put President Bush in the White House. McCain supported nominees like Justices Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Roberts. Why, he even voted for the "reactionary" Judge Robert Bork. Justice John Paul Stevens is 87 years old, with four more justices near or over 70. One more conservative appointee, and Roe v. Wade could be history. Are principled conservatives truly willing to allow that decision to remain for at least another generation? To quote another John, this time McEnroe, "You cannot be serious!"
The I'd-rather-sit-on-my-hands-than-vote-for-McCain crowd argues that sitting out paves the road for the Party's re-emergence in the mold of Ronald Reagan.
But name a federal government program that, once begun, gets undone. New Deal social programs are now fixtures. The federal government created the Tennessee Valley Authority to provide Southern states with electricity. The electricity is there -- but so is the TVA.
Imagine a filibuster-proof Democratic-controlled Congress -- one that passes HillaryCare on to an eagerly waiting President with a pen in her hand. Once that program's out of the bottle, good luck on trying to stuff it back in. McCain opposes a government takeover of health care.
The irritating Arizona senator, for all his flaws and warts, understands the big issues -- the war, taxes, and the Supreme Court. Our nation remains at war. The stakes are high.