Sunday, November 02, 2008

Anatomy of Rightwing Schizophrenia

John McCain's campaign has been accused of being erratic, disorganized, and dysfunctional. And it has been. It is probably one of the worst campaigns the GOP has run for the Presidency in about 35 years. Indicative of the campaign is the attitude of the Rightwing base. They have also been all over the place, disorganized, and dysfunctional. They have swung like John Kerry's 2004 flip-flops from moments of disgust with McCain, to moments of embracing McCain, to moments of resigned fatalism. Let me show you an example of what I think has been typical of the schizophrenic Rightwing base.

John Hawkins is a conservative blogger who has a pretty popular site called Right Wing News. I have been following this blog for many years now and I can say with a fair degree of confidence that I understand John Hawkins fairly well. Hawkins is also a regular columnist for Over this past election cycle, Hawkins has been as erratic about McCain as McCain has been as a candidate.

On February 1, 2008, when it looked like McCain might just sneak out the GOP nomination, Hawkins wrote a Townhall column entitled: "Why You're Going To Vote For John McCain In November And Like It!" Granted, Hawkins was being a bit facetious with this title and really showed very little love for McCain in this piece, but his point was that Republicans should hold their nose and vote for McCain as the least bad of the options. He reiterated this position in a follow-up posting on his blog later that same day. And so Hawkins called Republicans to be good party militants, even in spite of all of McCain's recognized minuses as a potential candidate.

Then, not some four months later, on May 23, Hawkins wrote a post on his blog called: Why I Will No Longer Support John McCain For President. In this posting, Hawkins wrote:

Put very simply: John McCain is a liar. He's a man without honor, without integrity, who could not have captured the Republican nomination had he run on making comprehensive immigration a top priority of his administration. Quite frankly, this is little different from George Bush, Sr. breaking his "Read my lips, no new taxes pledge," except that Bush's father was at least smart enough to wait until he got elected before letting all of his supporters know that he was lying to them.

Under these circumstances, I simply cannot continue to support a man like John McCain for the presidency. Since that is the case, I have already written the campaign and asked them to take me off of their mailing list and to no longer send me invitations to their teleconferences. I see no point in asking questions to a man who has no compunction about lying through his teeth on one of the most crucial election issues and then changing his position the first time he believes he can get away with it.

Moreover, I genuinely regret having to do this because I do still believe the country would be better off with John McCain as President as opposed to Obama or Clinton. However, I just cannot in good conscience cast a vote for a man who has told this big of a lie, for this long, about this important of an issue.

That being said, although I cannot back John McCain, encourage others to vote for him, or contribute any more money to his campaign, I'm not going to tell you that you should do that same thing. What McCain has done here is a bridge too far for me, but others may not have as big a problem with being told this sort of lie. That's their decision.

Furthermore, I will defend John McCain when I think he deserves to be defended, excoriate Barack Obama and/or Hillary Clinton at every opportunity, and I will continue to stand behind the sort of Republican candidates who actually deserve conservative support. But, what I will not do is vote for John McCain in November.
In a follow-up posting later that same day Hawkins explained himself further:
But personally, I think that there has got to be some kind of line in the sand that these politicians cannot be allowed to cross. In McCain's case, he lied about the single most important issue in determining many people's votes, is the Republican Party's nominee only because he told that lie, and now he has publicly shifted positions in a way that reveals he was lying the whole time -- and he did so before the election. Here's a man who has so little respect for conservatives that he doesn't even feel compelled to wait until he's elected to reveal that he wasn't telling them the truth about an issue they care desperately about.

If we're willing to put up with that, is there any line that he can't cross and get away with it? If McCain shifts on a dime tomorrow and says that he's only going to appoint pro-Roe Supreme Court justices, are conservatives just going to say, "Well, I'm not happy but he's still better than Obama." If he decides that the war is too much of a liability for him in the polls and he's just going to pull out like Obama and watch the country collapse into genocide, would that be Ok, too? If those things were to happen, I'd hope the answer would be, "No, that isn't OK with us."

It would be one thing if McCain ran on these issues and won the nomination anyway. At least then, you could say, "I'm not happy, but we have nobody to blame but ourselves because we knew exactly what we were getting." But, when the man doesn't even have enough respect for conservatives to follow through for a few months on one of the key promises he made to get the nomination, what message does it send to other Republicans? How far are they going to go if McCain doesn't pay a price for egregiously lying on an issue that is this important?

That's why, despite the fact that I think having McCain in the White House would be preferable to having Obama or Clinton in there, I cannot support his candidacy. Sometimes, the price you have to pay to keep your side in power is just a little too high.
Yet almost four months later, Hawkins reverted back to his original position. In a September 8, 2008, post entitled: "Why I Am Now Supporting John McCain," Hawkins wrote:
As RWN's regular readers already know, I have been a harsh critic of John McCain for a long time and back in May, I wrote a post called, "Why I Will No Longer Support John McCain For President." That post was widely linked and was probably why I was blackballed from the Republican National Convention.

However, I've been wavering on my "non-vote" in the 2008 election for a while. That's not because I've warmed up to McCain; it's because of my concerns about Barack Obama.


Despite the fact that I have a lot of differences with John McCain, I am going vote for him and I would encourage you to do the same. Whatever else you may say about the man, he is capable of handling the presidency and his election will teach the Left more about common decency than any mere words ever could.
And now, when he's not trashing George Will for writing a much milder critism of McCain than Hawkins had done months before, Hawkins is going around telling others why they should vote for McCain, too.

[ASIDE: How's this for some rich irony? Hawkins writes in this nasty little rant against George Will:
I'm sick and tired of these prissy jackasses and Beltway bubbleheads who put a higher priority on getting on the Colbert Report or MSNBC than winning the election.

How did we end up with all these primadonnas and divas in the Republican Party who are looking to get a few extra minutes in the spotlight at the expense of the country and everyone else in the conservative movement?

You're not happy with McCain, Bush, and the Republican Party? Well, join the party, pal. Do you think the last few years have been fun for the rest of us? If you can't act like a professional and suck it up until the election, then you're either in the wrong profession or the wrong party.

Either way, I'm not going to tell you to shut up, but I will tell you publicly that you can kiss my *ss.
Ahem! I wonder if, upon reflection, Hawkins thinks ruefully of himself as a "prissy jackass" for issuing a declaration of his intention not to vote for McCain back in May?]

Anyway, with regard to directing others to vote for McCain, Hawkins suggested in a Townhall column published on October 31, 2008, some Thirty Reasons To Vote For John McCain and even shared his own voting experience with his readers on the same day in a posting entitled: "I Voted Today..." At the end of this post, Hawkins wrote:
PS: Yes, I voted for Palin and McCain and I hope you do, too.
It's no wonder the McCain campaign is schizophrenic, bitter, and dysfunctional. Just look at the state of base conservatives these days as reflected in the anger, dysfunction, and contradictions of John Hawkins and you'll understand why.


Eric said...

"resigned fatalism"

That is a perfect description of how I've felt about this election ever since the primaries ended.

I can't argue against the fact that the McCain camp has been horribly run, ruderless, ugly at times, and generally shitty. While I'd still take McCain or Palin as POTUS over Obama or Biden, I don't see the state of affairs in America improving under either administration. I just think the problems McCain would cause would be more easily reversible than what Obama is likely to do, plus I would trust McCain more on matters of national defense.

That's about the best argument I can make for McCain, and I haven't heard many Republicans who can do much better. I will say this though, if the GOP is deflated and confused now, an Obama presidency will quickly give them something to rally around. The policies Obama supports have a very foreseeable conclusion, and I think there is a good chance he will be out in 4 years under similar circumstances as Jimmy Carter. The question is what the GOP will do in the interim period. If they just sit around and wait for Obama's policies to fail, and plan on riding that failure back into power, nothing is going to get better. The GOP has to find its message again, and it has to find representatives willing to carry out that message. Until then, the party isn't going to be any better than their current Presidential candidate.

Huck said...

Eric - The only flaw in your argument is the certainty that Obama's administration has a "foreseeable" conclusion that is negative. I want concrete proof, and not just anecdotal ideology, that we have been worse off under Democratic governments than under Republican ones.

Eric said...

Huck, it has little to do with how we've done under Democratic vs Republican rule. At various times, we've done well and we've done poorly under both.

But if you start with where we are today, and look at what Obama has promised, even the liberal pundits admit he can't do a great number of the things he is promising to do. So he will either have to not do them, or else he can borrow money to do them (in which case he will increase the deficit by levels even George W. Bush would find shameful), or else he can raise taxes on people he has promised not to raise taxes on in order to pay for them. I don't think any of these scenarios equate to a second term for Obama.

I'll allow that a lot of variables hinge on how Obama and the Democrats perceive their own victory. If they do what Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party did in the 70's, and take the victory as a mandate from Americans to justify an attempt to enact radical change over a short period of time, then I think my scenario is much more likely to play out.

Of course my prediction may be wrong. Only time can give you the concrete proof you are asking for. But I think it is fairly self evident that Obama has oversold himself, and it is going to be a real problem for him. It will be interesting to see if (assuming he wins out tomorrow) he begins trying to lower the expectations of his supporters.