Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and McCain Derangement Syndrome

The justifications given by Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh for not supporting McCain and abandoning our soldiers and national security to either Obama or Clinton are incredibly disingenuous and do not withstand a cursory examination.



Ann Coulter is a witty, acerbic shock jock-ess. I liked her until she referred to John Edwards as a "faggot" at the 2007 CPAC convention. At that point, I perceived her goal to be self-promotion rather than promoting the conservative cause. And likewise seems to be her position on McCain. Her assertion that she will not only refuse to support McCain, but actively campaign for Hillary seems far more an act of self promotion than it does the elucidation of a principled position. You can listen here to her speech on McCain that she gave before the Young Americans Foundation during the CPAC convention.

Powerline has posted a good analysis of Coulter's speech:

I enjoy listening to Ann Coulter, partly because I usually agree with 80 to 90 percent of what she says and partly because of the guilty pleasure I get from much of the other 10 to 20 percent. However, watching the replay of her speech explaining to the Young America's Foundation why Hillary Clinton is preferable to John McCain, I found that those percentages were reversed. Moreover, though I did take guilty pleasure from her attacks on McCain, it became increasingly difficult fully to enjoy the spectacle of Coulter attempting to persuade college-age conservatives that a McCain defeat at the hands of Clinton would be just fine.

. . . For example, in response to a question about Iraq, Coulter responded that McCain wants to close Gitmo and end waterboarding. But Clinton wants to close Gitmo, end waterboarding and, more likely than not, get out of Iraq without having won. McCain wants to close Gitmo, end waterboarding, and win in Iraq. How is that even a close call for Coulter?

Similarly, when asked about judges Coulter reminded the audience that McCain was part of the Gang of 14, and added that there was no assurance McCain would appoint judges like John Roberts (whose nomination Coulter was no fan of at the time) and Samuel Alito. But McCain voted in favor of Roberts and Alito, and (though I disagree with the Gang of 14) supported restricting filibusters of Bush nominees to exceptional cases. Clinton voted against Roberts and Alito, and thought there should be no restrictions on filibusters of their nominations and the nominations of like-minded appellate court judges. Again, this seems like a no-brainer for conservatives. . . .

Read the entire post here. As to Rush Limbaugh, on the occasions I have been able to catch parts of his show in the wake of Super Tuesday, I have heard caller after caller criticize McCain and assert that they will not vote for him in the general election. Rush has fully agreed with their concerns and expounded upon them, but he has stopped ever so slightly short of endorsing their proposed actions. I could be very wrong on this, but it appears to me that Rush is allowing his audience to vent for the moment and that he intends to throw his support to McCain at some point in the future.

That said, Limbaugh has made precisely the same disingenuous arguments as has Coulter about McCain - that McCain, Clinton and Obama are essentially the same in all respects. Bill Kristol, in a very thoughtful essay, has appropriately labeled this thinking as McCain Derangement Syndrome.

Indeed, when you sit and listen to the Democrats, and then you go back and listen to Coulter and Rush, its easy to come away mystified. Anyone who thinks that the economy of the U.S. would function the same under McCain as under Hillary has not been paying any attention. Hillary is not Bill. She is very explicit about her intent to involve government in the economy in a big way - and I am not just referring to Hillarycare. Besides her desire to break our piggy banks to spend on social programs, she has expressed her extreme mistrust of our (mostly) capitalist economy. See here and here. And Hillary is the earmark queen among the Presidential candidates. Say what you will of McCain, he has shown no such inclinations to have a command economy - and indeed, he has drawn a clear line in the sand on earmarks.

But where Coulter and Rush are being most disingenuous is on the major issues of our time -Iraq, Iran and the war on terror. On these issues, they both refuse to concede that we would be better off with McCain at the helm rather than Obama or Clinton. You can listen to Coulter's reasoning in her speech linked above. As to Rush, I listened to him make the same argument as Coulter about ten days ago, but do not have the site. Their argument is that, despite what Obama and Clinton are saying in the primaries, Clinton and Obama would not pull out of Iraq. Coulter and Limbaugh hearken back to ambiguous statements Clinton and Obama made prior to being pulled hard left by the Democratic base.

This is a tenuous argument indeed. It assumes that Clinton or Obama can pull back from their central bedrock campaign promise once in office. One, the political repercussions of such an act would be severe indeed, and it would likely split the Democratic Party. Even giving the appearance of pulling back would be painted as a victory by the radical Islamists. It would greatly endanger the troops we have remaining in Iraq, as both al Qaeda and Iran would be justified in thinking that if they create enough mayhem, we will fully withdraw. And it would breathe a tremendous new life into the ideology of radical Islam.

Further, character matters in war, more so than in any other endeavor. By character I mean attempting to do what one perceives as right based on principles, even if doing so comes at great personal cost. It is the polar opposite of making decisions on the basis of expediency. The criticality of character is easily demonstrated.

The only reason we won the Revolutionary War was because of the character of a few men who stayed true to their ideals when all seemed lost. George Washington was chief among them. On December 1, 1776, the nascent revolution was all but dead after a series of defeats that left Washington with only the remnants of a demoralized army. Few if any believed the revolution would succeed, and many were clamoring to sue the King for peace. Yet when night fell on Christmas in 1776, George Washington risked the last hope of the revolution in an incredibly audacious gamble. He led this depleted army across the Delaware River to attack the feared Hessians at Trenton. And on that date, the fortunes of war turned.

And it was only principles of Abraham Lincoln that allowed the North to achieve victory in the Civil War. It was Lincoln’s principled stand against any expansion of slavery that led to the war – and it was not a war that went well for the Union forces in the beginning. As elections drew near in 1864, Lincoln’s commitment to his principles and refusal to end the war looked likely to cost him the election. Yet he never wavered.

That said, the hallmark of much of the modern left is that they subordinate any principles they might have to expediency. Indeed, as Charles Krauthammer noted about Hillary Clinton not long ago: "She has no principles. Her liberalism is redeemed by her ambition; her ideology subordinate to her political needs." Assuming that what Coulter and Limbaugh posit about Clinton and Obama is true – that they have no intention of abandoning Iraq despite promises to contrary – that itself is proof positive of their willingness to place expediency over principle. In this case, the expediency is lying to the American public in order to win an election.

To see the dangerous intersection of political expediency and military conflict, one need not look far back in the annals of history for an example. Bill Clinton provides it. In 1993, he gave our military forces in the Somalia the mission of nation building – a mission that necessitated combat against a particular warlord with ties to al Qaeda. As combat intensified in 1993, the commander of the U.S. forces requested the authority to deploy tanks and close air support – both of which were readily available in theater – for force protection. The Clinton administration refused the request on the grounds that they did not want to be perceived as escalating hostilities. A matter of days later, the Blackhawk Down incident occurred in Mogadishu. Unprotected U.S. infantry soldiers were caught in a massive ambush assisted by al Qaeda and resulting in 18 U.S. soldiers killed and 79 injured. Clinton immediately gave up the mission of nation building and took our ground forces out of combat.

All of the decisions made by the Clinton administration as regards the Black Hawk down incident and its aftermath are textbook examples of political expediency. The long term ramifications of the withdrawal of our soldiers were that Somalia slipped back into civil war and al Qaeda claimed a victory against the U.S. It was a pyrrich victory in the sense that upwards of 2,000 Somalis were killed by our soldiers in that engagement. But the dead are meaningless to al Qaeda. Their claim to victory was predicated on the U.S. withdrawal and the abandonment of its mission as the result of suffering a comparatively small number of casualties. As we now know, it was one in a series of incidents that led to the jihadist’s belief that they could attack America on its home soil and not face any determined counterattack.

I would note that I do not think Clinton's decision to leave Somolia was wrong. Our strategic national interests were not in question there. With Iraq, Iran, and in the broader context of triuphalist Wahhabi / Salafi Islam and its offshoots, our strategic national interests are directly involved.

And as much a role as character plays in the conduct of wars, it also plays an equally critical role in keeping us out of war. An enemy that knows we have both the means to destroy them and the will to use that power may well be disuaded from pursuing acts of war. That is particularly true as regards to Iran, where the threatened or actual use of force by the U.S. have been the only factors to ever have caused the theocracy to alter their behavior in times past - i.e., Khomeini released the U.S. hostages on the day the impotent Jimmy Carter left office and directly before Regan took the oath of office; Khomeini stopped the mining of the Persian Gulf after the U.S. destroyed half of the Iranian navy over a period of several hours in 1988; and, if the recent NIE is to be believed, Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program when the U.S. invaded Iraq.

The flip side of that coin is that a government that believes that those opposing it do not have the stomach to use their power will not be disuaded. Examples abound, but possibly the clearest can be seen in the history of pre-war Nazi Germany. And in that regards, it would seem Obama wants to reprise the role of Neville Chamberlin.

The war in Iraq and the conflict with Iran are zero-sum games that we cannot afford to lose. The consequences of losing to us and to Western civilization at large would be dire. But in Iraq and with Iran, we face enemies that are willing to endure significant casualties in order to achieve their goals. I do not believe that we can possibly prevail against such a foe should we have a Commander in Chief whose character is such that he or she will place expediency over principle.

McCain operates on principle. It is his greatest strength. McCain supported the surge on the basis that he believed it was the right thing to do even when it looked as if it would put a stake in his Presidential bid. In that light, the attempt by Coulter and Limbaugh to suggest that McCain, Obama and Clinton would be interchangeable as respects to how they would handle Iraq and Iran is simply ludicrous.

McCain Derangement Syndrome needs to die a quick death. The chief justifications underpinning MDS as articulated by Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are demonstrably false and fully mirror the irrational hatred that defines BDS. And, as I see it, their proposed actions amount to an abandonment of our soldiers in the field in a time of war. In short, its time for Coulter and company to ‘rush’ through the "Five Stages of McCain."


ThaLunatic Daily said...

Conservatives are beginning to amaze me in their inability to see what's really at stake here. This election is about more than McCain and his inability to follow conservative principals.

How is handing the whole country over to far left liberals a suitable alternative to McCain? What principal is that?

There is a serious difference between McCain and a pure-bread liberal who is bent on destroying ALL conservative values permanently.

Today’s liberal is not like the Bill Clinton’s Presidency. It’s moved radically left... Clinton is now considered a moderated, and loosing it’s power because it’s not radically liberal enough.

The Democratic candidate that is surging now, Obama, is bottom of the barrel liberal. He is about to take power, unless conservatives stop fighting and get serious.

This would give liberals what they will treat as a clear sign from America that is it ready to move sharply to the left. Not slightly to the left.

Cherry picking our candidate is exactly what got us INTO this mess, and if conservatives aren’t careful, they will allow our country spiral out of control.

There is no such thing as a quick recovery from 4 years of radical liberalism unchecked. We may be facing what will take years and years of damage to undo. What’s more, there’s no guarantee that it WILL be undone. Have conservatives completely forgotten Roe v. Wade and other extremely important issues?

Questioning McCain was right and highly useful for a time and a season. Many of us wish we had acted sooner to support Romney or Huck.... But staying home on election day allows liberals a pass to capture all THREE branches of Government. Our kids deserve better out of us.

I'm not asking anyone to sacrifice their own belief or convictions, but we have a serious problem here that requires that we do everything we can to minimize the damage this election can cause to our society.

I’d rather have 50% of McCains ear, than 0% of a liberals ear.

Give it some thought, friends.

Danny Vice

Anonymous said...

Wow what a lot of words supporting slow poison over fast poison.

No one can convince me that supporting a quasi -liberal like Mccain will do any thing other than to encourage and enable the final marriage fo the two parties into one giant liberal mess.

I fear McCain's ill tempered and vengeful hand on the nuke button a lot. I don't buy his war experience as a resume for being CIC -in fact, it argues just the opposite.

To call soneone who loathes traditional values and supports the destruction of innocent life for medical experimants, a man of character is quite misguided at best.

I particularly doubt whether John McCain could ever bring himself to appoint a conservative judge.

His suppposed tight finacila hand about economic concerns all go out the window when you realize the economic destruction we will get with Kyoto and millions of illegals.

I don't suppose anyone mentions that this is a man willing to thwart law to attain his ends on illegals.

Anonymous said...

McCain has offered no evidence that he knows how to acheive victory. The failure in Iraq is due in part to Bush's failure to confront Iran for their repeated acts of war and the Saudis for their funding of radical Islamism. This is not a winning strategy.

Coulter said in her speech that if a Democrat wins the White House they will "own" the war and have a vested interest in seeing us achieve victory. In addition, I feel a Democrat will have the support of both parties and the media to do what is necessary. I doubt the New York Times would undermine a Clinton presidency the way it has done with the Bush administration over the past seven years.

Keeping 140,000 troops in Iraq does nothing for our national security if it's not part of a larger effort to defeat islamic terror. McCain has offered nothing more than empty hopes and promises.

Unknown said...

"Coulter said in her speech that if a Democrat wins the White House they will "own" the war and have a vested interest in seeing us achieve victory."

Balderdash. Look up the fall of Saigaon, and the Democrat Congress backing out of our treaty and the bloodbath that resulted.

Anonymous said...

Rightwing prof.: I disagree with your Vietnam analogy. Even if you are correct, there's no proof that McCain knows what he's doing with the war on terror either. More of the same Bush policies? No thank you.

RHJunior said...

The remark about slow poison vs. fast pretty well sums it up--- save the assumption that the poison would be noticeably "slow."

McCain has demonstrated absolutely NOTHING in his career to mark him as a conservative, and has demonstrated MANY things to mark him as a howling liberal and a threat to America. He's drafted bills and laws that violate free speech, he's voiced vehement opposition to the few effective tactics being used in the terror war, his social and domestic policy beliefs are as leftist as you can get, and he's even trying to ride his purple hearts to the White House just like Kerry tried. The only thing Republican about him is the 'R' after his name.

Like it or not, Coulter and Limbaugh have pointed out one decidedly ugly reality: If McCain is elected, he'll do exactly what the Democrats would in his place... only the GOP will get all the blame for the consequences.

The hatred for McCain springs from the fact that the Conservative population is sick to death of playing Charlie Brown to the Republican party's Lucy with the Football. We're sick of being presented with "conservative" candidates who remain conservative for approximately the ten seconds it takes to take the oath of office, and who then proceed to give the country and the Constitution to the liberals wrapped up in a ribbon and bow. We're sick of the GOP picking the worst possible candidate out of the available list and giving him to us as fait accompli.

Voting for our own candidate doesn't seem to be working. So how is "let the Donks take the blame this time" any less a valid tactic?

Anonymous said...

Not voting for McCain does not equate to a loss to Conservative values if we vote for Congressional candites that will thwart the next Presidens liberal excesses,A McCain vote will signal that Conservative voters are willing to continue to accept "the lesser of two evils" that has defined the Republican/Democrat candidates for far to long.

M. Simon said...

Keeping 140,000 troops in Iraq does nothing for our national security if it's not part of a larger effort to defeat islamic terror. McCain has offered nothing more than empty hopes and promises.

I get it. Giving Iraq to Iran and Al Queda WILL further our efforts to defeat Islamic terror.

The right used to have THINKERS. I guess the RINOS and center leftists will have to carry the party. The Real Conservatives™ will be left in the cold. Bye bye.

M. Simon said...

Not voting for McCain does not equate to a loss to Conservative values if we vote for Congressional candites that will thwart the next Presidens liberal excesses.

And what will you do if a Democrat tidal wave hits Congress in November (as it looks almost certain to do). Then you will not even have a small check on the Communists. You will still have your principles though. You can hold your head high if the Middle East devolves into a world war situation. If the Dems sell out Israel, well who cares? You stood up for what was right and insured the deaths of 10s of thousands in the US military. Good on ya, mates. Good to see you standing up for what is Right.

OBloodyHell said...

> Besides her desire to break our piggy banks to spend on social programs, she has expressed her extreme mistrust of our (mostly) capitalist economy. See here and here. And Hillary is the earmark queen among the Presidential candidates.

A looong time after -- one almost wonders if it would have made any difference between hillary and obama. Methinks hillary might have been better, she has balls when someone crosses her. If Ahminajad dissed her, he'd still be looking for his cojones.