In a very thoughtful but eminently necessary takedown, Jennifer Rubin takes John McCain to task, quite effectively, for his recent conniption fit against Rand Paul. (Actually, Rubin was comparatively gentle on McCain: She could have blasted the bejeebers out of him for his ongoing rants against Paul, Ted Cruz, and others on the right. McCain really does need to take a chill pill — or maybe about a dozen chill pills, while listening to soothing music, and return to public discourse only after a few Lenten confessions about his ill disposition.)
Here’s a key passage from Rubin’s blog post:
It is a mistake for conservative hawks is to view any limitation (constitutional, fiscal, real world) as a threat to their well-meaning effort to maintain U.S. influence in the world. In fact, it is only with respect for some limits on the executive, understanding of fiscal restraints and, most important, an appreciation for whom we are dealing with (friend or foe) that an internationalist foreign policy can be sustained.
At some point McCain begins to hurt more than help that endeavor.
Do read the whole post. I do take issue with one thing, however. In the course of making a larger point, she wrote: ”If you want to promote pro-life views you better not nominate Richard Mourdock….” It is time to set the record straight on Mourdock, who disastrously lost the Senate seat in Indiana that Richard Lugar had held for 36 years. It is true that Mourdock proved to be an inept (or less than fully, uh, ept) general election candidate, struggling mightily in what should have been an easy race even before he stumbled in a discussion of rape and abortion. But, unlike in some other cases that shall here go nameless, there was every reason to believe that Mourdock would be a solid candidate. Elected statewide as Treasurer of Indiana, he had shown political skills beyond a narrow constituency; he had a good record in office; his main claims to fame were fiscal/economic rather than social-issue hard-liner issues; and he ran a primary campaign based on broad themes rather than narrow appeals. Then, when he did stumble on rape, the reality is that what he said, in context, was almost perfectly acceptable. It only sounded awful when taken out of context — and then, mostly because it occurred in an atmosphere poisoned by Todd Akin’s truly idiotic rape/abortion statements in Missouri. After Akin’s screw-up, of course, Mourdock should have been prepared to avoid even wandering into the thicket he wandered into — but he shouldn’t be lumped in with Akin as having said something obnoxious, or of not being, on paper, a thoroughly acceptable candidate.
But that’s an aside — just something I had to say, because those who backed Mourdock in the primary had every reason to think they were getting a very solid candidate.
Back to the main point. As Rubin wrote, in criticizing McCain:
Whatever the reason, he is making an serious error of the type that recently has plagued many conservatives in a variety of policy arenas. A policy with no limits is not sustainable. And an approach to foreign or domestic policy that shuns prudence, balance and recent experience isn’t conservative.
This is a lesson all of us should take to heart. Politics is the art of the possible. And temper tantrums, like McCain’s, often make fewer good things possible than they otherwise would have been.