For all of McCain's alleged faults, he holds an American Conservative Union lifetime rating of 82.3. True, that's the lowest among the leading GOP candidates. But, RealClearPolitics.com's consolidated polls of various head-to-head races show that McCain is the only Republican candidate who is, at this moment, ahead of the Democratic front-runners, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois. Are die-hard conservatives so dead set against a slightly less than pure conservative president that they would prefer either Clinton or Obama (with American Conservative Union ratings of 9 and 8, respectively) in the White House?
McCain's conservative credentials can be verified by a close examination of Project Vote Smart's Web site (www.vote smart.org), where the voting records, issue positions and interest group ratings of the candidates are detailed. Spend time there, and you'll find that McCain isn't the ogre that custodians of the conservative flame would have us believe.
For me, the two most important issues in the election are national security (i.e. the war on terror, the war in Iraq and the nuclear threat posed by lunatic tyrants) and the quality and philosophical grounding of the new president's appointments to the Supreme Court and other federal courts. (The latter should be most critical to pro-lifers. Whether the high court will return the question of abortion to voters depends on the quality of those appointments.) McCain is on the right side of both issues, and that's what counts for me. Everything else -- the economy, free trade, balanced budget and so forth -- comes in second. McCain's remarkable comeback in the polls means something. Perhaps its significance coincides with the success of the Iraq "surge" -- something he courageously had urged for years while former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was still carrying out his lame war strategy.
Or perhaps voters are getting tired of the mind-clanging, headache-inducing demands for "outsiders" who are the "agents of change." Right. Tossing a puppy into a ring of snarling pit bulls also will bring about change. Reformers often fail because they don't know the territory. For all the glory heaped on Obama, I'd put my money on the less illustrious and consummate insider Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to be an effective agent of change. Not that he is, or that his change is the kind I'd like.
This election, any election, comes down to a single question: Who can govern the best? Not who can orate the best. Or which candidate is the correct race or color. Who can govern the best ... it's not a conversation you often, if ever, hear in the endless jabber about the presidential elections. I suspect voters are getting tired of all the strategizing by creepy political advisers and just want someone to govern, someone who, as one shoe commercial says, can "just do it." If so, that's why McCain will get the Republican nomination.