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Jewish World Review March 1, 2000 /24 Adar I, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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McCain's coalition-busting
daggers in GOP's heart -- THE EVIDENCE is growing that Sen. McCain is trying to disembowel the Reagan coalition while masquerading as its standard bearer. The major media are his gleeful accomplices. How far will McCain go to win the GOP nomination?

McCain is seeking to forge a new coalition, a "McCain majority," consisting of renegade Democrats, Perotista malcontents, other Independents and hapless Republicans who have fallen for the ruse that he is still conservative. In the meantime, he's blazing a trail of scorched earth over the Reagan coalition of the '80s.

McCain has made no effort to avoid offending Conservatives in his patent appeal to Democrats and Independents in the open primaries to date. He has demonized Bush's tax cut proposal as disproportionately benefiting the rich even though it is modest in comparison to Ronald Reagan's cuts.

McCain has now singled out the left's favorite whipping boy, the religious right. After Bush won South Carolina handily on the strength of Christian Conservatives, the McCain squads used evangelicals as straw men in Michigan.

With apparently no reservations about the inevitable fallout to the Republican Party, much less to evangelical-Catholic relations, McCain shamelessly exploited Michigan's substantial Catholic population through fear-mongering about Bush's appearance at the reputedly anti-Catholic Bob Jones University. McCain deviously parlayed Bush's strong evangelical support in South Carolina into Exhibit A to his charge that Bush was anti-Catholic.

After initially denying it, McCain acknowledged approving a telephone campaign in Michigan criticizing Bush's visit to Bob Jones. The McCain calls stated, "George Bush has campaigned against Senator John McCain by seeking the support of Southern fundamentalists who have expressed anti-Catholic views. Bob Jones has made strong anti-Catholic statements, including calling the pope anti-Christ, (and) the Catholic Church a satanic cult."

Monday, McCain escalated his Catholic-baiting tactics in Virginia by portraying Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "agents of intolerance" and comparing them to extremists Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton.

The media were more than willing to assist. Columnist Mark Shields on the "Capital Gang" remarked that Bush had badly damaged his own cause in the general election by "hanging out with the cast of 'Deliverance'" in his South Carolina comeback effort. In case you missed the movie, Shields was comparing Christian conservatives to the dueling-banjo strumming, sodomy-seeking Mongoloid mountain men from the wilds of Georgia. The previous weekend, ABC's George Stephanapolous said that Bush had become a kamikaze Conservative by appealing to the pro-life extremists of the religious right.

In many news stories, McCain's strengths are trumpeted while his vulnerabilities are ignored and Bush's weaknesses are underscored. The Washington Post, for example, on Sunday turned a positive event for Bush into an overt smear piece.

At a Republican Governor's Association meeting in Washington, the governors reaffirmed their endorsement of Bush. The Post used the event as an opportunity to fan the flames of doubt about Bush's candidacy. It gratuitously twisted the story into a negative, saying that the governors avoided "questions" about "television evangelist Pat Robertson's role in the Bush campaign, about execution practices in Texas and about the controversial racial and religious views of the presidents of Bob Jones University, where Bush spoke earlier this month."

Both the media and McCain know full well that Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole spoke at Bob Jones. They also know that McCain senior advisor Lindsey Graham received an honorary degree from that university last year without condemning their beliefs or practices.

Republicans supporting Sen. McCain as the "Conservative" who can beat Al Gore in November ought to think long and hard about what kind of damage this "conservative" is doing to their party. He is pulling out all the stops as he drives wedge after wedge into the heart of the GOP. He is pitting class against class and Protestant against Catholic with Clintonian agility.

You can say what you want about George Bush, but a bigot he is not. It is precisely his appeal to minorities and women that has McCain, the press and Democrats so worried in the first place. If and when Bush survives this coordinated challenge to his nomination effort, he can give some of these naysayers a lesson in principled coalition building. He can show them that he is not merely sloganeering when he states that he is a uniter and not a divider. And he can point to his Texas record to prove it.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
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02/02/00: SDI must fly
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01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
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01/12/00: Media's McCain efforts may backfire
01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
01/03/00: McMedia?
12/27/99: Al Gore: Bullish on government
12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
12/20/99: Bush: Rendering unto Caesar
12/15/99: Beltway media bias
12/13/99: White House ambulance chasing
12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
12/06/99:The lust for power
12/01/99: In defense of liberty
11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
11/22/99: Architects of victory
11/17/99: Trump's tax on freedom
11/15/99: GOP caves again
11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
11/08/99: Sticks and stones
11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
10/27/99: The false charge of isolationism
10/25/99: A matter of freedom
10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
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08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
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08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
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08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
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06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
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06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?