REPUBLICANS REMEMBER WHO THE ENEMY IS
I hope some right-wingers see that headline and think, "Damn straight -- we almost forgot we're at war with Islamofascists!" That's not what I mean at all. I mean that Republicans suddenly -- seemingly in the past seven hours -- remembered that the real enemy is us.
National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru said as much in the first sentence of his post about the speech John McCain gave at CPAC today:
He went after the Democrats -- which was wise, in my view.
"All in all, a good speech," Ponnuru said. John Hawkins of Right Wing News said, "I am hearing McCain's speech as he's giving it and I am liking it." (He has a transcript at the link.) Mary Katherine Ham at TownHall notes that the crowd reaction included "Big cheers" for a pledge to "secure the borders first," "big applause" for Democrat-bashing on FISA, and "Big applause" for a promise to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Of a vow by McCain that he'll never sign a bill with earmarks, she says, "that kind of promise makes my heart sing." Even Hugh Hewitt, the king of Romney flacks, called it "superb."
And just like that, with one speech (following up on Romney's Cheneyesque Democrat-bashing withdrawal speech), I think McCain is back in many wingnuts' good graces.
And even Rush seems to be inching his way back into the fold -- read this transcript from today's show and you'll see he's trying to walk a fine line, still expressing disgruntlement about McCain, but mostly ascribing disgruntlement to his listeners and e-mailers -- feeling their pain, as it were ("I hear you") -- and being somewhat ambiguous about whether he's eventually going to get with the program. But he's not encouraging to a voter who says he'd consider voting for Obama over McCain:
RUSH: You won't do that when you find out what Obama's policies are.
CALLER: Well, you know what? I know that he's very liberal. I know that.
RUSH: Just think of a nice Hillary Clinton, in terms of policy.
CALLER: You're right. You're right.
RUSH: Maybe even worse, if that's possible.
In a snarky way he is getting with the program. Check out what's on on his homepage as I type this:
He's trying to be disgruntled and a good soldier:
...I'm dead serious about considering this.... I've heard people say things, pundits on our side, "Don't worry about McCain, Rush. Hillary is so hated and despised and loathed and so forth. That alone will unite our voters: the fear and loathing for Hillary Clinton." It appears that may be what our strategy is. Rather than get leadership, conservative leadership for our own party, it may well be that that's the thing -- and she's in danger of losing the nomination. Folks, here's this rookie who's been in the Senate for two years, and he's smokin' her on fundraising? He is doing everything that he can and is succeeding, and she's had to borrow money and so forth? If our electoral victory in November requires her being in the race, we gotta stop him; because there's no fear and loathing on Obama. You can't run against Obama fearing him or loathing him or dissing him. It isn't going to work. He doesn't have the personality that makes any of that fit. So we need to keep her in it so we can win it. I'll have more on this as I give future thought to this.
It's schtick, but it's pro-Republican schtick. The fact that he's doing this suggests to me that he'll slowly make his way back into the fold.
Steve Benen, I suspect, would say that's a good thing -- this morning, before all the sudden reversals at CPAC, Steve argued that we shouldn't be talking about a conservative crack-up:
...Highlighting the right-wing clowns who hate McCain may inadvertently help McCain's campaign. The goal, moving forward, isn't to point to the schism, but rather, to point to how much McCain has in common with those on the far right who are attacking him.
...I suspect for most of the country, there's widespread disdain for the Republican Party right now. When these folks hear about who's condemning McCain, their first thought is likely to be, "Well, maybe as Republicans go, he's not so bad." Indeed, if I were with the McCain campaign, I'd be tempted to encourage these attacks, because they only make the GOP candidate more appealing to a general-election audience.
...The goal going forward should be the polar opposite -- the differences between Limbaugh and McCain are minor. They're two conservative Republicans who fundamentally want to take the country in the same (i.e., wrong) direction....
Maybe doing that is going to be much easier now.