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The wrath of John

By Selwyn Duke
web posted February 11, 2008

John McCainWriting in the New York Post, columnist John Hurt warns of the obvious. John McCain may be campaigning as a conservative, says he, but once in office the senator will show his true colors and take a sharp left turn. Hurt opines:

He [McCain] claims the mantle of Ronald Reagan. He even claims the mantle of Barry Goldwater, conservatism's crack version of Reagan. But as McCain clinches the GOP nomination, he will begin his usual leftward lurch.

He will return to his lifelong positions as soft on illegal immigration, skeptical of tax cuts and favoring strong federal control over things like campaign financing.

This is correct, but it gets even worse. The truth is that, once having ascended to the White House, McCain will both have less incentive than ever to listen to traditionalist voices and more reason to despise them.

First, McCain will be once-bitten but not at all shy. What am I talking about? Well, think back to his support for amnesty; the Republican electorate was enraged, his poll numbers dropped to single digits and his campaign was left for dead. No one foresaw him becoming a Lazarus candidate.

Yet rise he did.

Now, what message do you think he has gotten? If he can come back from what Republicans considered to be the ultimate betrayal, he has to now figure that he is immune to the slings and arrows of traditionalists. He no doubt thinks he can impose leftist policy with impunity, for it will find favor with many liberals and moderates, and many conservatives -- having short memories like everyone else -- will have their wounds healed by time.

Then, there's The Wrath of John. McCain has a reputation for being temperamental, and he strikes me as a vindictive man. Thus, while conservatives never exactly had his ear, how disposed do you think he will be to listen to them after a campaign during which he tasted their steel? He will remember the words of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, James Dobson and others and may see nothing but red. They may taste his steel.

Mind you, this isn't to say that traditionalist criticism of him is unwarranted; I myself have joined that chorus of voices. But something tells me that McCain doesn't quite see it that way. I don't think he is going to become president, bay his passion, and conclude, well, hey, maybe those conservatives are right about a few things after all.

It will be hard for a cooler head to prevail because that's not what sits on McCain's shoulders. ESR

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