By Chuck Muth
For the Appeal
It's all but settled. John McCain will be the Republican Party nominee for president in 2008. That has caused much anguish among many conservatives who knew Ronald Reagan - who was a friend of theirs. And Senator, you're no Ronald Reagan, or words to that effect.
Nevertheless, conservative realists recognize that despite all the chinks in the right side of his armor, John McCain still is far more conservative than either Hillary or B.O. But when President Bush declared that John McCain was a "true conservative" this week - which was kinda like Joan Crawford declaring that Britney Spears was a good mom - true, true conservatives said "Huh?"
After seven years of excess spending and rampant government growth (Homeland Security, No Child Left Behind, Medicare prescription drugs, etc.) under "compassionate conservative" governance, the right ain't readin' anybody's lips again. Trust, but verify. And this time they want it in writing. Preferably in blood.
GOPUSA.com" target="_blank">class="NormalParagraphStyle">GOPUSA.com has drafted a "Contract with Conservatives" that it hopes the Republican presidential nominee will embrace. "Conservatives need something more than simple assurances," writes GOPUSA's publisher, Bobby Eberle. "For our time, effort, money, and votes, we need a pledge. We need a pledge from our presidential nominee to uphold the core Republican values that built this party, and which have taken a backseat to politics in recent years."
Right-footed GOP foot-soldiers are flocking to GOPUSA's Web site to sign the online petition declaring that they "will support our presidential nominee and other candidates for high office, only if they uphold the Contract with Conservatives." An extraordinary declaration of grassroots independence. The Contract includes:
Immigration Reform: No "comprehensive" plan. Border security first. THEN we can talk about the rest. And when it comes to dealing with illegal aliens already in the country, they "should not be given special consideration for citizenship and should not be put ahead of those seeking to come to America legally." Pretty reasonable.
Tax Reform: Support for not only lowering taxes, but reforming the tax system to make it simpler. And stop using the tax code "for social engineering." Hard to argue with that.
Limited Government: SHRINK the size and scope of the federal government, not just slow its growth. Earmarks and pork should be eliminated. Limit the government to doing "only those core jobs enumerated in the Constitution." What a radical notion.
Judges: Select judicial nominees who will "follow the law rather than make new laws from the bench." And make sure they get up-or-down votes in a timely fashion - a clear shot at Sen. McCain and his "Gang of 14" that prevented Republicans from breaking Harry Reid's judicial filibusters a couple years back.
Life: Support overturning Roe vs. Wade and oppose embryonic stem cell research. Of course, this is where fiscal conservatives and social conservatives divide their forces, which is how Sen. McCain ended up winning the GOP presidential nomination in the first place. Thanks, Mike Huckabee.
Free Speech: Repeal McCain-Feingold. I suspect this one just might be a bit hard for Sen. McCain to swallow.
All in all, a pretty good treatise. Sen. McCain won't embrace all of it, but then again, no one really expects him to. All this does is put a possible President McCain on notice that conservatives will not support him blindly the way they often did President Bush when W wandered too far off the left side of the conservative reservation.
Fool conservatives once, shame on you; fool conservatives twice, shame on us. We won't get fooled again.
Chuck Muth, of Carson City, is president and CEO of Citizen Outreach and a political blogger. Read his views Fridays on the Appeal Opinion page or visit www.muthstruths.com.