Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Pot Calling the Kettle Deranged Indeed...

Americaneocon over at American Power attempts to pillory Andrew McCarthy's recent article "McCain Estrangement Syndrome". He never addresses any of the substantive points of McCarthy's legal arguments, criticizes McCarthy for "having an easy out" and, in general, proves McCarthy's point in the third paragraph about not only the pot calling the kettle deranged, but the fact that such attempts in doing so are futile.

Rather than fisk the McCarthy article, I will summarize his three main points below:

First, McCarthy explains his discomfort towards McCain as being capable of appointing conservative judges. McCarthy correctly notes that McCain has been at odds with judicial conservatives on a number of different issues (the First Amendment and the Geneva Conventions being two of them - as one can gather by reviewing the relevant case law). On the second page of McCarthy's article, there is a whole litany of other items that are addressed.

Second, McCarthy suggests that there is a valid conservative case to rejecting John McCain as a presidential nominee by suggesting a Republican-controlled Congress would fare better if set against a Democrat president. That issue, however is moot since McCarthy himself rejects this argument on the grounds that McCain would serve far better as commander-in-chief than a President Obama or a President Clinton could. Given that this carries more weight (barely) than his other concerns, it is obvious to me that he would support McCain in November.

His last point is a point that some of the more rational and reasonable McCain supporters have made: without the so-called "irrational right", it is uncertain that McCain can win a general election. I am not going to predict whether or not McCarthy is correct here, but it seems like winning elections does require a bit of coalition building.

What does McCarthy get for his troubles? Well, let us start with the subject of McCain's deviations from the principles held by judicial conservatives as a matter of constitutional law:

But who does this help? Certainly not Mike Huckebee, who was the target of the irrational right around the time of his big win in the Iowa caucuses. Remember, Huck's the governor who wanted illegal aliens to attend college. Aghast, an open-borders recidivist!!

So what's McCarthy doing? He's turning the psychological tables.

Obviously, the arguments elucidating McCain Derangement Syndrome have been compelling, so the Malkin-tents and the Rush-bots need to fight fire with fire.

McCarthy all but states in the article that he would support McCain in an election against Obama or Clinton so he is not trying to help Huckabee (in fact, he criticizes Huckabee). Turning the psychological tables? How? Dr. Sanity's link, while interesting, certainly would not apply to arguments like the ones made by McCarthy because McCarthy has not, anywhere (and I dare anyone to show me otherwise), taken anything close to the more absurd positions taken by conservative pundits like Hannity, Levin, Malkin, Limbaugh, etc.

All of the ranting and raving about psychological ploys does not change the fact that this is a major issue amongst legal conservatives, who for decades have building a sizable legal establishment and wish not to see their efforts tossed aside as easily as McCain tossed aside the First Amendment. (Slate's Dahlia Lithwich has more here) It strains any and all credibility to suggest that the arguments made by legal conservatives, who understand the stakes if more moderate or liberal nominees are appointed to the Court, are a defense against the highly persuasive arguments for "McCain Derangement Syndrome". There are consequences here that will outlast a McCain presidency, in the event there is one. Of course, if I was a legal conservative (I'm not), I don't think that response would have done anything to placate my own concerns.

Going on to the next part, McCarthy suggests that he would vote for McCain for reasons explained above. Americaneocon's response?

So, that it? It's a no brainer that conservatives have a rational, principled position to take in continued oppostion of McCain? But in the next breath they have the easy out in backing the Arizona Senator because of the war.

Aha!! There it is, the Holy Grail!!

Base conservatives can continue to rail away at McCain's apostasies, while simultaneously they can concede that things must be resolved in favor of the war!

This is not estrangement, but further derangement. There's no such thing as the perfect Republican presidential candidate.

Reagan certainly wasn't.

Aha!!! There it is, the Holy Strawman...

McCarthy never once speaks of the perfect candidate (Reagan is neither mentioned nor implied), never claims that he would take his ball and go home if John McCain was the nominee for the GOP (as others have) and appears to do what many people have, in perhaps their own peculiar ways, have wanted conservatives critical of McCain to do: support him.

Obviously, that's not good enough. One must not only be committed to voting for him, but also committed to his form of conservatism and view it as a "great" form of conservatism:

But maybe there's hope here, as McCarthy perhaps reveals the seeds of clarity in his argument. Perchance, with this prompt, anti-McCainiacs can start pumping up the benefits of a McCain presidency, while realizing that his conservative bona fides are just a strong as many of his great Republican predecessors.

McCarthy's argument is as clear as day: 1) there are reasons to believe McCain is faithful to the legal principles of judicial conservatism; 2) there are principled and rational reasons to oppose voting for McCain in a general election; 3) it would be unwise to engage in (2) because McCain is arguably the best suited candidate to address the national security concerns with respect to the war on terror.

Has Americaneocon addressed McCarthy's arguments? Not at all. He dismisses him as deranged. He sets up strawman to refute arguments McCarthy does not make. He goes on to rant and rave about Anthony Kennedy, movement conservatives who are completely and utterly irrelevant to the topic of constitutional law and judicial appointments, which centered on conservative interpretations of law as opposed to movement conservatism (and succeeding to lump McCarthy in with that group).

Get over yourself. Millions of voters, many of whom will have a wide range of disagreements with the man on the issues and on whether or not he represents the sort of bonafides that voters want to see in a conservative candidate, will vote for him. They will not now, if ever, view McCain in the same mold as Reagan (who is not held as perfect - another strawman). The best you can possibly do is get those people to vote for McCain and hash out the disagreements later. If you don't like McCarthy's legal arguments, try a substantive response. Simple as that.

Of course, going Lew Rockwell on people and attacking them for not seeing the ideological greatness of your own preferred candidate (a page out of the paleolibertarian playbook when dealing with us Ron Paul critics - I will not provide links) proves McCarthy right.

It is almost ironic that this neoconservative, who has skewered Paul for months and taken a couple of less-than-impressive cheap shots towards libertarians, has taken a page out of the paleolibertarian playbook and attempts to excorciate someone who all but said he would support McCain for not being supportive enough. It's enough to make Justin Raimondo proud.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. If you'll excuse me, I must go and get fitted for a straightjacket. I hope they have them in black.

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