Robert Knight

The pundits are already at it, saying that conservatism is dead.

But Barack Obama and Joe Biden were elected in large part because they managed, in the face of all evidence, to run to the right of McCain-Palin.

Obama-Biden pretended they weren’t much different from social conservatives. In fact, they didn’t look much different from fiscal conservatives, either, and played the bogus “tax cut” card better than McCain. They got away with it for two reasons:

1) The McCain-Palin campaign was so busy being Democrat Lite “mavericks” that they refused to raise issues that would have given voters a stark moral choice.

2) The media were happy to ignore the disconnect between the Obama rhetoric and his radical policies and associates. They had the perfect excuse: If the McCain campaign doesn’t make an issue of these things, why should we?

Exit polls showed that at least 60 percent of voters said the economy was the most important issue. That makes sense when the stock market is bucking like a mechanical bull, digging a deep pit. Meanwhile, the media are blaming the government-driven mortgage collapse on (take your pick) Republicans or “the free market.” McCain-Palin responded by talking about Wall Street “greed” and “greedy” oil companies This is the language of envy, and the GOP is not in the same league with Democrats when it comes to stoking the sin of coveting. “Did we mention we’re mavericks?”

Given the media’s Obama infatuation and the McCain campaign’s insistence on sticking to a losing script until the last days, it’s little wonder that many voters decided to “make history” with the first African-American president. A lot of Americans regardless of party are proud of this, although many would rather it was Michael Steele, Alan Keyes or anyone without the radical resume of Barack Obama.

Absent from the campaign coverage were potent issues like judicial activism, marriage, abortion, gun control, cultural depravity, and illegal immigration. Some of these were triggered by rogue judges, and resulted in state initiatives. As the Committee for Justice’s Curt Levey observes, “Even if McCain and his GOP colleagues were squeamish about tackling these controversial issues directly, they could have used the judges issue to tap into the conservative leanings of voters….”

The media made it all about Obama’s historic ascendance and McCain’s and Palin’s quirks and fumbles.

Part of the blame should go to the conservative talking heads who ignored the social issues. In a sort of reverse Marxist vision of man as just an economic animal, they could go on for days about the economy and never once mention the Left’s concerted attack on marriage and family. Some did explore Obama’s ties to William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and other radicals, but few expounded on the gross immorality of Obama’s anti-family agenda.

When people elect a president, they naturally think about their own economic situation, but they are also sizing up a leader’s character. When Obama’s integrity deficits came into focus, McCain was quick to disparage the source. It’s one thing to encourage civility, and McCain gets points for that. It’s another thing to keep people in the dark out of fear that the media will make you appear “mean” for conveying inconvenient truths. If there had been a Swift Boat Veterans-type effort exposing Obama’s record, McCain probably would have torpedoed them for their trouble.

Given the thin gruel of dueling tax policies, many voters of conservative bent took the media’s cue and yawned. Numbers quickly become a bore, especially in an age of text messaging and Saturday Night Live impersonations.

Amid scant media coverage, marriage protection amendments won in California, Florida and Arizona. So much for the end of traditional values. Arizona’s vote even reversed the 2006 rejection of a measure protecting marriage, the one ballot victory that gay activists have ever achieved on this issue. In Florida, the measure passed with 62 percent, even as the state went for Obama. In 2004, a marriage amendment sealed Ohio’s 20 electoral votes for George W. Bush. This time around, there was no Ohio marriage amendment on the ballot. Even if there had been, McCain might have ignored it as he did the one in Florida, where he forfeited a golden opportunity to reveal his opponents as captive to the radical gay lobby. At the least, McCain could have outed Obama as a man who says one thing and does another.

When the media ignore important issues, it is up to the candidate to raise them. But McCain was so busy distancing himself from Bush that his own “change” theme was barely distinguishable from Obama’s.

How many voters knew that Obama/Biden have called for overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and opposed California’s marriage amendment? “Obiden” came off as marriage defenders while doing everything possible to undermine marriage law. None of this came up in the three presidential debates. Vice presidential moderator Gwen Ifill gave Sarah Palin at least two chances to draw the distinction. Instead, Palin astoundingly indicated that the two tickets had little disagreement on the issue. That must have had them high-fiving at Democrat campaign headquarters.

Palin’s dodge also undoubtedly pleased the homosexual activist Log Cabin Republicans, which boasts all of 20,000 members. McCain strategist Steve Schmidt met earlier with Log Cabin operatives and gushed over their agenda. No wonder very few Christian conservatives felt motivated to match the zeal of Obama supporters. Let the Log Cabin crew pick up the slack.

On the abortion issue, Obama has the most radical record of any U.S. senator or presidential candidate in history. His role in killing the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act puts him to the left of the abortion lobby, NARAL Pro-Choice America, which stayed neutral. Obama has pledged as president to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would sweep away any regulations on abortion in all 50 states. This would include bans on partial-birth abortions and even parental notification before minors are taken to abortion clinics. The media were able to ignore all this because the McCain-Palin campaign ignored it.

The media shamelessly shilled for Barack Obama. But they had a lot of help in this campaign – from the invertebrate wing of the GOP.


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.