Monday, February 18, 2008

An Open Letter to Bill Bennett

Dear Bill,

I think it would be better if you stayed away from a defense of McCain. It is neither helping him or buttressing your own conservative credentials. Your normally reasoned and honest approach to the wide variety of subjects you take on daily falls by the wayside when you get on the subject of John McCain.

First, what's with the name-calling? Your past comments about conservatives being purists ("Trotskyites" is the way you put it I believe) is sophistry. We supported Thompson and he is far from pure. He would have been Voltaire's "good" vs. the "best". The "McCain's not perfect" line or "there will never be another Reagan" excuse that you and other McCain apologists trot out is condescending and shallow. Given that this argument can be used just as easily about Obama, it really carries no argumentative weight does it?

This morning you called those of us who vehemently disagree with McCain on a host of issues "snippy". Two weeks ago you called people in the south who refused to vote for the liberal John McCain, "stupid". Last week you termed the critiques of McCain by your fellow conservative talkers as "noise". This is a tactic of the left in this country and is almost always an indicator of a weak argument on the part of the person hurling the insults.

Next, what's with the overstatements about McCain's conservative stands? On today's show you said that there are many things with which you disagree with McCain but also there are many things that he is good on. "Many"? May I suggest that this is a HUGE exaggeration. He is certainly bad on many things but even the few things he is ostensibly "good on" are really half-hearted and inconsistent.

It would be more accurate to say this on the air:

"Yes, I will acknowledge that McCain loves to sponsor liberal legislation and eschews sponsoring conservative legislation, but he does at least support the war in Iraq. Of course he is one of the weakest Senators regarding border security and yes he does want to close Gitmo and bring enemy combatants into the US court system thereby making it impossible to prosecute their crimes (given that doing so would reveal our intelligence methods), and of course, he is against giving intelligence officers the ability to use non-injurious interrogation techniques like water-boarding against known terrorist leaders but hey, at least he was for the surge (along with most of the rest of the Senate)."

Then you could tell your audience, "Fortunately, he is very good on fiscal issues... well except for the aforementioned amnesty legislation which is devastating to local economies, education systems, hospitals and the like and yes, he wants to codify the anthropogenic global warming hoax by levying heavy gas taxes on Americans through the fiscally irresponsible "cap and trade" scheme, thereby crippling the economy (which he admits is not something he knows a lot about), but at least he is pro-life (except for his desire not to overturn Roe v. Wade and his vote for stem cell research). But other than these few things he is great."

If you would come on the radio and say those two paragraphs then conservatives might take your defense of McCain more seriously. But mendacity does not become you Bill. In a column on your web site defending McCain you dishonestly assert, "McCain has an ACU (American Conservative Union) rating of 82.3; Clinton has a rating of 9."

This is is a false comparison. Hillary has only been in the Senate for a short period of time and coincidently, during a period when McCain was much more liberal than his mediocre 82.3 lifetime rating. Why not compare their current ratings? Yes, Hillary is currently rated with an 8 while McCain has a 65 (and this was before his most egregious votes and liberal legislative work during 2007) but 65 still puts him on the far left of the Republican party with only 4 Republican senators farther to his left. Furthermore, the ACU rating is for votes cast.

If we look at each vote as a test of sorts, then a no-show should count as a zero. The ACU doesn't do this however which puts their entire methodology in question. Using their system, McCain could show up for one vote out of the two hundred that he should have showed up for, vote the conservative way, and get a 100% rating from the ACU. If a student only shows up to take tests on subjects he is good at, I seriously doubt that the student would pass the course. In reality, McCain does very poorly if we count votes he has skipped (because they would show him to be a liberal if he did vote on them). Giving him a zero for skipped votes gives him a rating more in the 30s and puts him to the left of several Democrat senators and leaves only 2 Republicans to his left.

It would be better to acknowledge McCain's liberalism and simply point out that he is just not as liberal as Hillary or Obama and leave it at that. Acknowledge that even on national security, pro-life, and economic issues, he is lackluster but still better than Obama and Hillary. The remaining challenge for McCain is that, of the two nominees, McCain is the less principled. Obama is openly Marxist. McCain is secretly a socialist. The voters want honesty in their presidents and given that McCain has serious ethical challenges, tends to flip-flop on issues, claims to be a Reagan Republican (from his perch on the left side of the party), and is a political opportunist, I don't see how he beats Obama even if you convinced every conservative to vote for him (and few will).

So our choice is between an unprincipled, self-aggrandizing, ill-tempered, old, liberal or a young, African-American, principled Leninist.

Spinning this election any other way just lowers your otherwise excellent credibility Bill. So please stop calling us names and recognize that McCain has few strong points, just less terrible ones than the opposition.