As we've noted, some of the most virulent anti-John McCain rhetoric on the ConWeb is popping up at Newsmax. Now the boss is trying to put a different spin on things.
In a Jan. 31 column, Christopher Ruddy declares:
But how did John McCain win, especially with so many conservatives against him?
Dick Morris suggested on Bill O’Reilly’s show Wednesday night that the GOP is just more liberal than we thought.
Dick is usually on target, but on this point, I respectfully disagree. The GOP is still very much the party of conservative Ronald Reagan.
McCain is not a liberal. He is a conservative. As such, he was the least offensive of the GOP candidates who ran in the Florida primary.
I think Florida voters saw it that way when they went to the polls and gave McCain a plurality (not a majority) in a very crowded field.
McCain is a maverick. McCain’s lifetime American Conservative Union voting record is 83 percent. Not bad! He is also pro-life, pro-gun, for limited government, and a strong national defense. He passes a certain acceptability level using the typical litmus tests for most Republicans.
At the same time, his own Newsmax writers weren't having any talk of moderation about McCain. Diane Alden compared supporters of McCain to the lotus-eaters in Homer's Odyssey: "The inhabitants of the United States have partaken of the fruit that has made them blind, deaf, dumb, forgetful, and self-satisfied. Why else would people vote for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Bradley, John McCain and the others who promise more laws and expanding government?" Alden adds: "The Lotus-Eaters among American voters who prefer McCain are doing us a disservice and may have to be dragged kicking and screaming back to reality lest this nation sink deeper into a stupor and dissolution."
John LeBoutillier, who hates McCain almost as much as he hates the Clintons, counters his boss as well: "Conservatives hate McCain and that antipathy will only increase the more they are exposed to him."
Will the likes of LeBoutillier, Alden and Ronald Kessler fall back into GOP lockstep if McCain eventually becomes the nominee? Probably -- grudgingly so, because ultimately, they all hate Democrats too much to split the Republicans.
UPDATE: More McCain animus from Michael Reagan, in a Feb. 1 Newsmax column: "I know in my heart he hates me, and every conservative. If he gets the nomination, the only way he could win against Hillary or Barack Obama would be to be part of a McCain-Limbaugh ticket."