The Problem with John McCain

Many of my fellow talk-show hosts and conservative friends such as Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin are deeply disturbed by the possibility that Senator John McCain may become the next presidential nominee of the Republican Party. Our dislike of Senator McCain’s positions is real and visceral.

Just a few of their comments are enough to illustrate the depth of our feelings toward McCain:

Levin:  “… I have to say that I fear a McCain candidacy. He would be an exceedingly poor choice as the Republican nominee for president.”

Malkin: “He is an expert at filibustering and he is an expert at crooked talk. He talks a smooth game about how, of course, he supports our immigration laws but at the same time John McCain’s embrace of his immigration advisor Juan Hernandez is giving conservatives heartburn.  Hernandez had served as a Mexican cabinet official under Vicente Fox where he worked diligently to do nothing but undermine sovereignty and our laws.”

Coulter: “Republicans who vote for McCain are trying to be cute, like the Democrats were four years ago by voting for the ‘pragmatic’ candidate, Vietnam vet John Kerry. This will turn out to be precisely as clever a gambit as nominating Kerry was, the brilliance of which was revealed on Election Day 2004.”

You get the idea.

We conservatives will find it exceedingly difficult to motor to the polls if McCain is the nominee. We appreciate his valor, service and honor as the only Presidential candidate who served in the U.S. military. He fought valiantly for the United States in Vietnam, an unpopular war, and stayed strong under brutal attack by our enemies. Sen. McCain is a true wartime hero whom we will never forget.  But that does not entitle Sen. McCain to our trust or support in his run for the presidency.

But, as we learned with former Sen. Bob Dole, the American people want more than a war hero to lead our country. We need somebody who is level-headed on the big issues: immigration, the war against radical Muslim jihadists, (which goes far beyond the “surge”) the economy, taxation, threats of government-run health care, and the man made issue of global warming.

Did I mention immigration?

Sen. McCain’s personality may be his biggest problem. He is too quick to play bipartisan polka with liberals like Sen. Ted Kennedy when he should be holding the line for common sense conservatism. Instead of slapping the backs of those who nod with approval as illegal aliens flood over our borders, Sen. McCain should have been building walls to keep the intruders out.

Immigration is the foremost reason why conservatives part company with John McCain. McCain’s campaign partnership with a former spokesman for Mexico’s president sends a clear message that a President McCain would welcome anybody who busts into our country illegally instead of sending them home. It is a scary, dangerous position. McCain-style open-border policies would allow terrorists, already known to cross our porous borders, to walk in without challenge.

Immigration, of course, isn’t the only McCain position that fires up conservatives. McCain-Feingold restricted First Amendment rights. Then there was the McCain-Kennedy education fiasco.  As a conservative, I flinch anytime I hear of a new piece of legislation that begins with the name McCain.

The American people have very little tolerance for bad immigration policy. I learned this firsthand from my personal experience as “The Mother of the Recall,” a nick-name I earned from movement conservatives for my role in initiating the recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis of California.

Voters rallied around Republican-led efforts to throw Davis out of office. One of the biggest motivators was his support for driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.

We got rid of Davis, but then came time for choosing from 28 other candidates on the ballot.  The GOP loved state Sen. Tom McClintock, the principled conservative with a proven track record of reform, but instead chose Arnold Schwarzenegger because of their concerns about McClintock’s ‘electability.’

What did California get for the big ‘win’?  A 14 billion dollar deficit, his advocacy for business-crippling regulations backed by the phony junk science of man-made climate change, and bad policy on, you guessed it, illegal immigration.

 Is it a coincidence that Arnold Schwarzenkennedy endorses John McCain?

A close friend of mine coined the expression “Open a vein before you vote McCain.” He says it, of course, with the greatest affection for the good Senator – and the staggering fear of him carrying the GOP mantle into November’s campaign.

Conservatives oppose McCain because of the long-term damage done to the party by his defining it as a pro-amnesty, environmental extremist, high tax, high regulation, and liberal judge party. As conservatives we can not endorse this.

 Ironically, at the end of Schwarzenkennedy’s first administration, the California State GOP is broke. In debt. And with no future viability for perhaps decades to come.

John McCain may very well do the same for the Grand Old Party if he is our next nominee.

[Correction: an earlier version of this article misquoted Michelle Malkin as having said that McCain had served as a Mexican cabinet official.  We regret the error; Ed.]