There’s much hot air being wasted in dark and dingy precincts of the American right about John McCain’s lack of “conservative” bona fides. Rush Limbaugh has apparently declared war on the man, and Ann Coulter called Hillary Clinton more reliably conservative than McCain, and promised Sean Hannity she would not only endorse Clinton but campaign for her if McCain got the GOP nomination.
Not being a conservative, this is both fun — and funny — to watch. If there were some intellectual substance to conservatism (something some folks over at lewrockwell.com try, off and on, to argue was once the case, but somehow is not true any longer), this might be an interesting argument. But there isn’t. In my lifetime, and I go back in reasonable political memory to the late Carter years, to be conservative is to be a statist, a nationalist and a militarist. My understanding of the history is that statism, nationalism and militarism have found a happy home in the GOP ever since the early to mid-1950s.
Among progressive Republicans of the TR stripe, statism, nationalism and militarism have a much older pedigree. As do these three among most Democrats. Barack Obama and Madame Hillary are no less committed to war and empire than the senior senator from Arizona is.
So arguments over taxes, over regulation of election campaigns, what to do with illegal immigrants, over an alleged desire to do something about global climate change, all these are superfluous. John McWarmonger is “conservative” where it counts — he is a nationalist, a believer in state power (particularly that of the executive) and he is very definitely fond of war and the military.