How Conservatives Can Manage McCain ...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Feb 08, 2008 9:52 AM
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Last night, Tom DeLay was on Hardball.  While he admitted John McCain's speech at CPAC was a good one, he also warned that he would need to see a lot more evidence of McCain's transformance into a conservative, before he would be "sold" on the man.

In my estimation, this is both smart -- and good for the movement. 

If the goal of conservatives is to move McCain to the Right, then it is wise for conservatives to sort of pay a game of, "good cop, bad cop." 

We do need good cops;  If every conservative gave McCain the cold shoulder, he would have no incentive to come over to our side.  It is very good for us, indeed, that McCain has advisors like Kemp, Gramm, Coburn, and Brownback, to listen to.  We would be much worse off if all these leaders had washed their hands of him, and cast him off as a liberal.

On the other hand, we need "bad cops," too.  It's wise for some conservatives to play a little "hard-to-get."  McCain must know that his conservative support is, in fact, conditional.  This does not mean we should say that Hillary is better.  But it does mean that we should continue to make him do a little wooing.

Even if he becomes president, conservatives must be prepared to support McCain when he is right -- and speak out against him when he is wrong.  Frankly, this is something more of us should have been doing, anyway, for President Bush.