In the Washington Post this morning, David Frum calls for a full scale retreat of conservatives from the McCain presidential campaign. In his piece, “Sorry Senator. Let’s Salvage What We Can,” Frum argues that all resources should be diverted to saving what the Republicans can in Congress:
There are many ways to lose a presidential election. John McCain is losing in a way that threatens to take the entire Republican Party down with him.
Frum cites a “senior Republican House member:”
There is not a safe Republican seat in the country. I don’t mean that we’re going to lose all of them. But we could lose any of them.
Things aren’t better in the Senate where he cites 8 seats that could go down, including in such stalwart Republican states as Virginia (where Sen. John Warner’s seat … he’s retiring …. is almost a guaranteed loss) and North Carolina (where Elizabeth Dole will probably lose to Democrat Kay Hagan). I’m getting almost daily emails about the GA race, where, extraordinarily, Republican Saxby Chambliss is in a death match against his Democratic opponent Jim Martin. Democrats are not quick to forget the despicable campaign Chambliss ran against Dem Max Cleland last time around and the drag on Chambliss by the McCain campaign gives them just enough of a crack in the door to perhaps throw Chambliss through it.
The Frum article takes a nasty turn when he begins to criticize “liberal Democrats” and MSNBC and the “left-wing blogosphere” for “a more militant style and an angry intolerance of dissent and criticism.” That’s sort of a pot-meet-kettle argument. The conservative media (think Limbaugh and O’Reilly for reference) has been, and continues to be, the most vitriolic voice on the airwaves. The fact that Democrats are beginning to grow a collective spine should be threatening to the Republicans. But militant? Well, that’s a stretch.
Frum’s concern is that:
… this angry new wing of the Democratic Party will seek to stifle opposition by changing the rules of the political game. Some will want to silence conservative talk radio by tightening regulation of the airwaves via the misleadingly named “fairness doctrine”; others may seek to police the activities of right-leaning think tanks by a stricter interpretation of what is tax-deductible and what is not.
Angry? Well, yeah, we’re angry. We’re angry that the Republican administration has mucked about in our Constitution and tramped on our civil liberties. We’re so angry, that we want stricter regulations to make sure that citizens are guaranteed free speech … even if we hate what they’re saying. We want tighter controls to ensure that citizens cannot be surveilled without cause. We’d like a strict interpretation of what is tax deductible so that folks going to church on Sunday won’t be subjected to political intimidation. We’re angry enough to not want to silence conservative radio. As much as we may hate the lies, the vitriol, the violence inspiring hate speech that can spew forth, we recognize that, too, is free speech and without it, this just wouldn’t be America.
I encourage you to read the rest of Frum’s piece. He lays out his opinion of what the Republican party should do at this point. It’s a sort of cut and run strategy: leave the McCain camp out to dry and focus on the Congress which will be your base for the next presidential election. When leading conservatives begin calling for all support, both moral and financial, to be pulled from a presidential campaign, the writing is probably on the wall.