no choice

The continuing discussion over the wisdom of Senator McCain choosing a pro-choice VP should be about more than whether conservatives would actually sit the election out.  I don’t think we can afford to make that threat.  Senator McCain has a long pro-life Senate record, and we have a clear indication of where he stands on abortion.  We also can be assured that Senator Obama could do far more damage as a pro-choice President than Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman could do as a pro-choice Vice President.  There is one important responsibility the President has that would have an impact on abortion  — the Supreme Court nominations.  Of the two men, which one would be more likely to nominate judges who strictly interpret the Constitution?  I would argue that it would be McCain.  Now, it’s hard to imagine that he could get a Scalia or Alito through a Democratic Congress, but the precedent has always been to confirm judges who have all the right qualifications for the job as long as they don’t show all their cards during the confirmation process.  We are guaranteed not to get someone we like if Senator Obama wins the election.

The argument against Lieberman, Ridge, Giuliani or any other pro-choicer should be this — what else do they bring to the table?  Can you steal any Democrat or independent votes from Barack by picking this person?  What in their resume shows that the potential nominee is a strong leader and would be ready to lead on day one if anything should happen to McCain?  Is the person someone that conservatives can support when examining their entire political record, in spite of their pro-choice views?  All of these names have one common theme — none of them adds much to the McCain ticket.  There’s more risk than benefit here for McCain, and the numbers are showing that he has been gaining evangelical support recently, with some of that due to his strong performance at Saddleback on Saturday.

There has been an attempt by the media to change the focus of evangelicals from abortion and gay marriage to more popular causes like global poverty, HIV/AIDS, and global warming. A shift like that would make it possible for evangelicals to accept a pro-choice candidate like Barack Obama.  For now, their campaign is a massive failure.  Of course we care about global poverty and some of those other issues, but the primary concern of evangelicals has always been protecting the unborn and opposing abortion.  There is a clear difference between Senator Obama and Senator McCain on this issue, and choosing a pro-choice VP would not allow McCain to emphasize that difference as much as he could if he picked someone who shared his pro-life views.

bad advice

Republicans would be wise to ignore the advice of Dick Morris, who sometimes appears to be a sleeper agent for the opposition. When he’s wrong about something — such as the Condi-Hillary matchup he wrote a book about — he is SPECTACULARLY wrong.  He tries to make the case against Mitt Romney as a VP choice, and this part makes some degree of sense to me.  But the alternatives he presents are completely unacceptable to conservatives — including Mike Huckabee.  Morris thinks that he understands what conservatives want, when in fact he is absolutely clueless about that.   He continues to hype Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and Joe Lieberman as VP choices, presumably because this demonstrates McCain’s bipartisanship or something.  This would only serve to remind conservatives of something we see as a McCain weakness. Yeah…that’s a winner of an idea.

All of these options would be more of a mistake than choosing Mitt Romney.    He says that choosing Powell or Rice would give the choice a “WOW” factor.  “WOW” factors are just as overrated as most of Morris’ advice.  If McCain really cares about what conservatives want (and there isn’t much indication that he does), then he needs to look outside of Morris’ preferred circle of VP options, and disregard most of the media’s shortlist as well.

Who’s my pick?  If we rule out Palin and Jindal (and we have to, since they aren’t credible as the next in line to the Presidency just yet),  I have to echo the suggestion of some other conservative blogs and throw former Congresscritter and FNC guest host John Kasich into the mix.   If we must pick someone from Ohio, why not someone most conservatives already know from TV?  He’s a solid fiscal conservative and an effective defender of our worldview, and I would love to see him mix it up with Obama’s VP pick.  That debate would be very watchable.  Picking a relative unknown like Rob Portman doesn’t deliver Ohio for McCain.  Not that picking Kasich would necessarily accomplish that, but it certainly would have more of Morris’ famed “WOW” factor for conservatives than a Portman pick would.

I’m pessimistic about McCain’s inclination to pick someone who thrills conservatives, but I can settle for his choice — as long as he ignores Dick Morris’ picks and doesn’t pick his BFF Lindsey Graham.  Nobody really knows what McCain will do with his VP pick, so the best approach right now is to ignore most of the speculation, and wait to see what happens.