McCain's Problem Isn't the GOP

By L. Brent Bozell
Tuesday, August 5, 2008; 12:00 AM

Glen Anrig, writing in Sunday's Outlook section, would have us believe John McCain cannot win by adhering to conservative principles. The cornerstone of Anrig's argument is that, "[N]ow, seemingly all of a sudden, conservatives are the ones who are tongue-tied, as demonstrated by Sen. John McCain's limping, message-free presidential campaign.... [McCain's] choice is whether to stick with rhetoric and policies wedded to free markets, limited government and bellicose unilateralism, or to endorse a more robust role for the public sector at home while relying more on diplomacy and international institutions abroad."

These conservative policies, according to Anrig, are responsible for everything that's wrong in the world, including the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, global warming and -- this is a new one -- tainted spinach and jalapeƱos. I'm surprised he didn't add Original Sin to the list.

His argument beyond silly. The federal government is a behemoth that is out of control; bigger, fatter, lazier and more incompetent than ever. Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are extracted annually so that government can better handle our lives -- the agenda of liberals like Anrig. Yet old problems remain unresolved, and new ones appear daily. The solution of leftists like Anrig? Give the federal government even more control.

Ronald Reagan's tax cuts led to the greatest peacetime economic boom in our nation's history. Fact. Reagan's foreign and national defense policies led to the defeat of the Soviet empire. Fact. Most elements of the conservative social agenda continue to enjoy overwhelming national support. Fact. Ditto the movement's call for judicial constructionism, not adventurism.

Are conservatives "tongue-tied"? Look at the 2007 push for illegal alien amnesty. You had a Republican president as well as the Congressional leadership of both parties (including Sen. McCain) all ready to sign away our national sovereignty. But the conservative movement refused to play along and marshaled a national outcry that stopped this hideous legislation dead in its tracks.

Is McCain running a "limping, message free" presidential campaign? On a couple of issues (most notably Iraq), that analysis is incorrect. But on too may fronts, it's an accurate assessment. As I argued in The Post in March, McCain cannot win in November unless he has his conservative base energetically working for his election.

This can be accomplished only by embracing a firm conservative policy agenda. To do as Anrig proposes -- embrace a liberal, ever-bigger Big Government platform -- is a prescription for political disaster, and will guarantee the election of Barack Obama.

That outcome would no doubt please Anrig to no end.

The writer is president of the Media Research Center.

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