I'm not sure how National Review continues to fly the conservative banner after endorsing the non-conservative John McCain (and that's the nicest word for him) over the conservative J.D. Hayworth in the Arizona GOP primary -- an exercise, as Andy McCarthy gamely observes in his compelling dissent from NR's endorsement, the magazine tends to avoid.
"Why Endorse McCain?" the title asks. Why, indeed! For the record, I came out for Hayworth some months ago when another "conservative" force weirdly came out for McCain as well -- Sarah Palin. There is simply no conservative argument for such an endorsement. Neutrality, at most, should have been both Palin's and NR's position.
From Andy's piece:
As I argued in an extensive analysis of McCain’s policy stands during the 2008 campaign, the senator is not a conservative. He is a big-government progressive in the mold of his hero, Teddy Roosevelt. It is unsurprising, then, that the editors are forced to concede, at the outset of their endorsement, that it would be “an understatement” to say NR “has not always agreed with Sen. John McCain’s judgment.” Understatement indeed: We are talking here about the same John McCain who was beseeched to be the runningmate of John Kerry — perhaps the Democrats’ most left-leaning presidential candidate until Barack Obama came along. The Kerry dance was a natural. As a presidential candidate himself in 2000, McCain had asserted that, if elected, he would turn to Kerry — along with then-senator Joe Biden and Zbigniew Brzezinski (President Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser) — “to get foreign-policy, national-security issues back on track.”
The editors’ case for McCain is depressingly weak and bereft of balance. They offer three rationales: (1) that McCain, though not reliable, is “usually . . . on the conservative side of national controversies”; (2) that “when McCain is right he can have a terrific impact”; and (3) that Hayworth is “not obviously a more exemplary statesman than McCain.” The first claim is meritless, which explains the skewed version of history offered in its behalf. The second claim overrates McCain’s national-security credentials and ignores the horrible impact he can have when he is wrong, which he often is. The third claim — which mugs Hayworth’s reputation after airbrushing McCain’s — is, at best, a basis for hewing to the sage practice of remaining above the endorsement business, not for endorsing McCain.
Behold the rest of Andy's deft dissent here.