Argument: McCain is just as conservative as Ronald Reagan was
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Jeff Jacoby. "A conservative's case for McCain". Boston Globe.com. February 3, 2008 - Conservatives bristle at the thought of a Republican president who might raise income and payroll taxes. Or enlarge the federal government instead of shrinking it. Or appoint Supreme Court justices who are anything but strict constructionists. Or grant a blanket amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.
Now, I don't believe that a President McCain would do any of those things. But President Reagan did all of them. Reagan also provided arms to the Khomeini theocracy in Iran, presided over skyrocketing budget deficits, and ordered US troops to cut and run in the face of Islamist terror in the Middle East. McCain would be unlikely to commit any of those sins, either.
Does this mean that Reagan was not, in fact, a great conservative? Of course not. Nor does it mean that McCain has not given his critics on the right legitimate reasons to be disconcerted. My point is simply that the immaculate conservative leader for whom so many on the right yearn to vote is a fantasy. Conservatives who say that McCain is no Ronald Reagan are right, but Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan either. Neither is Mike Huckabee. And neither was the real - as opposed to the mythic - Ronald Reagan.