Ka-BOOM…

As for McCain “the straight-talker,” how can anyone explain his abrupt about-face on two of his signature issues: immigration and tax cuts? As everyone knows, McCain led the battle not once but twice against the border-security-first approach to illegal immigration as co-author of the McCain-Kennedy bill. He disparaged the motives of the millions of people who objected to his legislation. He fought all amendments that would limit the general amnesty provisions of the bill. This controversy raged for weeks. Only now he says he’s gotten the message. Yet, when asked last night if he would sign the McCain-Kennedy bill as president, he dissembles, arguing that it’s a hypothetical question. Last Sunday on Meet the Press, he said he would sign the bill. There’s nothing straight about this talk. Now, I understand that politicians tap dance during the course of a campaign, but this was a defining moment for McCain. And another defining moment was his very public opposition to the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. He was the media’s favorite Republican in opposition to Bush. At the time his primary reason for opposing the cuts was because they favored the rich (and, by the way, they did not). Now he says he opposed them because they weren’t accompanied by spending cuts. That’s simply not correct.

Even worse than denying his own record, McCain is flatly lying about Romney’s position on Iraq. As has been discussed for nearly a week now, Romney did not support a specific date to withdraw our forces from Iraq. The evidence is irrefutable. And it’s also irrefutable that McCain is abusing the English language (Romney’s statements) the way Bill Clinton did in front of a grand jury. The problem is that once called on it by everyone from the New York Times to me, he obstinately refuses to admit the truth. So, last night, he lied about it again. This isn’t open to interpretation. But it does give us a window into who he is.

Hard to argue with any of that. It’s more of a cry to defeat McCain than it is to elect Romney, but the end result of defeating McCain would be to elect Romney. That bothers some conservatives just as much as electing McCain, which is why we’re in the fix we’re in right now.

As for me, I understand conservative discomfort with Mitt Romney. I’ve gone through it so much in my head that I’ve come up with a name for it: The Romney Paradox. I’ve written a whole post that explains it in detail, maybe I’ll publish it tomorrow once it’s gelled a bit.

Briefly put, it’s the fact that because we don’t elect businessmen to the presidency, Romney wouldn’t be a viable candidate if he hadn’t been a governor, but because he tacked left in order to win his Massachusetts governorship, conservatives have a hard time believing in his sincerity now, even though he probably started off as more conservative and is certainly more conservative now than McCain. But people have a hard time working it all out, so they don’t bother and just decide that he isn’t trustworthy. I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I see where it comes from. I also think that as a businessman Romney has been absurdly successful and as a public servant he’s been a whale of a lot better than most. He fixes stuff, usually stuff that someone else’s incompetence or corruption broke. We have a few things in Washington that need fixing. McCain doesn’t strike me as the guy who can do that, and don’t get me started on the Democrats. They’re not part of the problem, they are the problem.

As for Romney, here’s a rallying point if you need one.

We need to stay in the house that Reagan built.

I think it’s do or die time for conservatives. Either we rally to Romney or we reconcile ourselves to McCain and all that that means. It’s one or the other. We have a few more days to make up our minds.

More: One of my bottom lines in life is that I prefer people who fix things to people who break things. Romney fixed the Olympics, he fixed Bain, etc. McCain broke the First Amendment and I don’t trust him to fix the border. He did, arguably, have a lead role in fixing the war though he’s exaggerating that. On balance, I don’t know of anything that Romney broke but I do know of one thing that McCain broke and one thing he won’t fix. Fwiw.