Bitter Enders

How are the attendees of CPAC handling the ascension of John McCain to the nomination? For the most part, I’d say fairly well. McCain hasn’t generated wild enthusiasm from conservative activists, but the general sense is that he’s earned an opportunity to partner with conservatives. I chatted briefly with McCain volunteers at their booth, and they say they’ve signed up over 200 new volunteers. That would be a significant number for any candidate at a conference with this kind of diversity.
However, not everyone wants to put the divisions behind them. When I got to Blogger Row this morning, the desks had been papered by Patriot PAC. They have launched a new website, OpenGOPConvention, to urge voters to deny McCain the outright nomination. Headlined “CONTAIN MCCAIN!”, they want Republicans to wait for a “real Ronald Reagan conservative” — as if no one thought of the idea before. They also left copies of a Washington Times column by Terry Michael calling McCain “the John Kerry of ’08”.
Frankly, that’s absurd, and the messenger is even more so. Terry Michaels used to be the press secretary for the DNC. Somewhat ironically, the first flyer warns of a media conspiracy to promote McCain, while Michaels now works for Washington Center for Politics and Journalism, the very nexus of which Patriot PAC warns. Now we have a Democratic press flack warning Republicans not to nominate John McCain — because he’s not Republican enough?
We have had the longest and most open primary in our history. During that period, we talked endlessly about Ronald Reagan, begging for credible presidential candidates who could fill his shoes or at least shine them. If we didn’t get anyone who could pass muster over the last year, what makes anyone think we could produce one now? And who would it be, anyway?
John McCain isn’t a perfect candidate; far from it. He’s the one who has attracted the most votes from the Republican coalition, though, and the various coalition factions have failed to produce anyone better. Being a bitter ender will take the party to a bitter end. It’s time to start working within the McCain team to increase our influence, rather than engage in fantasies about magic candidates and marginalizing the movement.

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