As I noted in my last post, the withdrawal of both Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson would spur neo-conservatives and their closest aggressive nationalist friends, like John Bolton, to rally behind John McCain as their preferred candidate. Of course, now that Romney himself has withdrawn, there hasnâ€™t really much of an alternative, notwithstanding Mike Huckabeeâ€™s ardent Christian Zionism. In any event, Jennifer Rubin, a political correspondent at Commentaryâ€™s Contentions blog (which has become much more active, if predictable, under John Podhoretzâ€™s editorship), has a good rundown with useful links of the latest endorsements and commentary:
â€œOn Friday at CPAC, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton sung McCainâ€™s praises and then heartily endorsed him on Saturday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Fred Thompson got on the McCain bandwagon too. The Wall Street Journalâ€™s editors disparaged the notion that social conservatives should sit home or vote for Hillary Clinton ( â€œWhat they canâ€™t do with any credibility is claim that helping to elect a liberal President will further the causes that these conservatives claim to believe most deeply inâ€) while President Reaganâ€™s National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane doesnâ€™t think much of the talk show criticsâ€™ suggestion that we hand management of the war over to one of the Democrats. Newt Gingrich recognizes the obvious ( â€œHeâ€™s had a lifetime voting record thatâ€™s dramatically more conservative than Clinton and Obamaâ€) and Larry Kudlow voices support as well.
Bill Kristol thinks the anti-McCain sentiment among conservatives is exaggerated, and a simple account from the campaign trail reveals a obvious truth: lots of conservatives have supported McCain all along.â€
Of course, McCainâ€™s main foreign-policy spokesman (and NRA lobbyist who, I had a heard a few years ago, got in trouble with the Capitol Police for carrying some kind of firearm where he shouldnâ€™t have), Randy Scheunemann, tends more to the Bolton camp. A former member of the board of directors of the Kristolâ€™s Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and a main founder of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), Scheunemann worked for McCain in 2000. (When at one point just before the Iraq war, I clicked on the CLI website and got the website of Ahmed Chalabiâ€™s Iraqi National Congress [INC] instead, it was Scheunemann who told me that the two organizations used the same web server, thus tending to confirm the notion that the CLI â€” whose honorary co-chairs were John McCain and Joe Lieberman â€” was a Chalabi front organization.) And, as pointed out in a previous post and in a Friday article by McClatchyâ€™s excellent Warren Strobel, former CIA director James Woolsey has signed on to the campaign as an adviser, too. Scheunemann set up the CLI with Bruce Jackson, a long-time friend and protege of Richard Perleâ€™s.
Does this mean John McCain is a neo-con or would necessarily pursue neo-conservative/aggressive nationalist positions if he became president? No. Unlike Bush, he has his own strong views on U.S. foreign policy, not to mention far more foreign-policy experience â€” and hence confidence â€” in those views. He also has advisers who tend to the realist category. But it does mean that, like Bush, there would almost certainly be a major power struggle between the two tendencies if he got to the White House. The best relatively recent article on McCainâ€™s foreign-policy evolution, however, suggests that the hawks would definitely enjoy the upper hand. Read John Judisâ€™ October 2006 article in The New Republic entitled â€œNeo-McCain.â€
Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.