Politics: February 2008 Archives

The word is out that Senator Barack Obama's judicial advisory team (assuming this report is accurate) takes him to be interested in judicial nominees who come across like John Roberts in person but who would decide cases like Justices Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan. [hat tip: Orin Kerr]

Obviously he doesn't mean they'd come across sounding like a moderate conservative, or it would be hard to get Democrats to support his nominees. He means someone who doesn't have much of a record in terms of ideology but who seems like a well-qualified judge. But he also doesn't mean someone who would be moderated in liberalism the way John Roberts is moderated in his conservatism. Otherwise he wouldn't name Justices Brennan and Marshall, two of the most liberal justices ever on the Supreme Court (by pretty much anyone's standards).

So he wants nominees who are actually extremely liberal but sound moderate. Moderation within judicial liberalism ends up with something like Justice Breyer, the one justice of the four liberals on the Supreme Court who is most likely to vote with the conservatives on constitutional issues of any moment. (Justices Ginsburg and Souter often vote with conservatives on statutory interpretation, but that's only when little of ideological importance is at stake.) Moderation in judicial liberalism does not lead to appointments of judges who will vote the way Justices Marshall and Brennan did.

For political reasons, this strategy does make sense. If you want to replace Justice Stevens, for example, with someone even further to the left, then you better find someone who isn't obviously further to the left, or it would be much harder to confirm them. I'm not going to dispute such a strategy. Both sides in the current environment need nominees who come across the way Roberts did if they want to get anything like a strong confirmation vote. I think McCain would need to be even more conscious of this than a Democratic president would, given the Democratic control of the Senate, but the Senate is still divided enough that the Republicans could present problems for a Democratic nominee if they really want to (and partly because the Gang of 16 was successful, which McCain would then have himself to thank for).

But even if this strategy makes political sense, I think it shows something about Senator Obama. He doesn't say he'd appoint real moderates in order to get them confirmed. He wants real liberals but knows there isn't enough popular support for them to get them through the current Senate. The conservatives I've been reading who are arguing for appointing someone like Roberts in order to get a chance at confirmation are arguing for someone just like Roberts, not someone who sounds like Roberts but actually would vote like Judge Robert Bork. I do worry about whether this counts as deception. But whatever you think about that issues,. this is yet another clear sign that Barack Obama is no moderate, despite the popular view of him. It continues to amaze me how far left of center he is, and yet so many people see him as the sort of person who would be able to break down the gridlock in Congress and get genuine conservatives to work with him on proposals that are anathema to them. I just don't get it.

I had to laugh at the last line of the Emily Bazelon Slate piece I linked to above. The judicial strategy of sounding moderate but turning out to be quite a bit to the left of moderate wouldn't exactly be a new tactic for Senator Obama.

Obama and Infanticide

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Barack Obama's opposition as an Illinois State Senator to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act has been making the rounds, with a lot of people overstating their case on both sides. Some conservatives are taking this as a sign that Obama thinks infanticide is morally ok, and some liberals are acting as if his approach is what any supporter of keeping abortion legal before viability should say. I'm not sure either is true, but I'm also not sure this reflects well on Obama.

Here is the law. It says that if a baby is born alive, whether by intended delivery or by failed abortion, it is legally a person, a human being, a child, and an individual. It counts as born alive only if it is completely removed from the mother (ignoring an umbilical cord connection, which does not count as a sufficient connection according to this law). Partial-birth abortion is thus not ruled out, because a partial birth is not a complete removal of the fetus. As long as the birth has not fully taken place, this law threatens no actual abortion rights.

Obama's reason for not supporting this ban is not because he thinks it's ok to kill a born fetus. As far as he's said, he does not actually support infanticide (and he didn't vote against the law; he just voted present, although that in itself was part of a strategy devised by Planned Parenthood of Illinois to protect pro-choice politicians from voters seeing how pro-choice they are). For his actual words, see comment 9 here. What he says is that he worries about the logic. Here is what seems to me to be his argument:

1. The Supreme Court has declared laws banning abortion before viability to be unconstitutional.
2. There is no difference between the moral status of a fetus inside its mother before viability and the moral status of a born baby at the same developmental stage.
3. Therefore, banning the killing of a born baby at this stage is morally tantamount to banning abortion at a pre-viability stage. (from 2)
4. Therefore, the law is unconstitutional. (from 1 and 3)

This argument does not amount to supporting infanticide morally. It is merely an argument based on the constitutional issue. According to Supreme Court precedent, this law is unconstitutional, and thus it's pointless to pass it. He gives no moral argument against the ban, just a pragmatic one. So from this speech alone it's impossible to get any clear support for infanticide.

Nevertheless, I think this is a terrible argument. The first premise is clearly true. I would argue that the second is also true. I see no difference in the intrinsic moral status of the fetus merely because it is contained within someone or is separate. However, I don't think 1 and 3 guarantee 4. There's no legal reason why morally inconsistent laws can't occur. You can ban something that's morally equivalent to something else that's unconstitutional to ban, as long as the first thing isn't unconstitutional to ban. But the real problem I have with the argument is his inference from 2 to 3.

The standard pro-choice argument is not that a mother has a right to kill a fetus growing within her. Only the most extreme abortion-choice proponents hold such a view. The standard view is that a woman's right to control her body is morally more important than whatever rights a fetus might have. That argument allows for a fetus to have some sort of moral status such that killing it would be prima facie wrong, even if the bodily rights of the mother outweigh that. What this means is that the standard pro-choice argument does not accord a mother the right to the death of the fetus. If it survives removal, her rights have been satisfied. That means the moral status of the fetus is what kicks in to determine what you should do in such a case, and this law settles that question. It does not threaten the woman's bodily rights, at least not according to the standard justification of abortion rights.

McCain on Stem Cells

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Several people have asked me where I got the information that John McCain has changed his view on stem cell research. His position used to be the same as that of former Senator Bill Frist, who opposes the creation of new stem cell lines except in cases where the embryo is already going to be destroyed. I have defended this position as consistent with pro-life principles about the full moral status of the fetus (and again here in a slightly different context), but many people who are pro-life do not agree. A lot of people think the issue should largely be defused now, however, since the discovery that embryonic-like stem cells can be developed without destroying embryos at all. I was under the impression that McCain was one of them.

I'm pretty sure one of the political blogs I read that usually has very reliable, up-to-date information about candidates had a mention in the last week or so of this change in McCain's view, but I can't remember where. What it said is that McCain had changed his mind in light of this new research and no longer supports research even on embryos that will already be destroyed, citing the new research as evidence that we probably will no longer need to do that to get enough embryos for the research that he still considers necessary. Since I couldn't find where I saw this, I spent some time looking around for recent statements by McCain on the issue. Here's what I came up with.

Gerald Bradley wrote in the National Review on January 18:

McCain has said -- it is true -- that he approved embryo-destructive research in the limited case of so-called "spares"-- those embryos "left-over" after couples have exhausted their interest in IVF. I disagree with him.In face-to-face conversation with McCain I said not only that such research was wrong, but that it would never be limited to "spares." I said that big biotech needed a far larger supply of research subjects than "spares" could provide. McCain asked to continue that conversation, to hear more. Now he realizes that there is no need to exploit "spare" embryos, in light of recent successes with adult cells. And so he has been telling South Carolinians over the last few days.
According to the Catholic News Agency, this was where he stood about a week later:

When he was asked how he reconciled his otherwise solid pro-life voting record with his support for experimentation on "surplus" embryos, Sen. McCain called his decision to back the research "a very agonizing and tough decision".

He continued, saying, "All I can say to you is that I went back and forth, back and forth on it and I came in on one of the toughest decisions I've ever had, in favor of that research. And one reason being very frankly is those embryos will be either discarded or kept in permanent frozen status." The senator, while standing firm on his decision added, "I understand how divisive this is among the pro-life community."

Referring to the recent break through in stem cell research which allows scientists to use skin cells to create stem cells, McCain said that, "I believe that skin stem cell research has every potential very soon of making that discussion academic.... Sam Brownback and others are very encouraged at this latest advance...."
Now I don't see that as necessarily conflicting with Bradley's first-hand report. All it does is give McCain's justification at the time and then his indication that he thinks it was the right decision. It doesn't say if he still holds it, just that he stands firm in his view that it was the right one and that in the future it will be a non-issue. It says nothing about what he thinks we ought to be doing right now. So I don't see how this is inconsistent with what Bradley reports hearing from McCain in person.

But then there's this:

When a woman asked whether promising new methods of stem cell research
would end McCain's support for embryonic stem cell research, he replied
firmly: "I have not changed my position yet."
So now I'm not sure what to think. He very clearly does not think his initial view was wrong at the time he made it, and he pretty obviously thinks that soon it will not be an issue and that we will not end up needing to use "spares" for this research. Bradley's impression was that he now no longer wants to fund use of "spares". He seems not to have fully made that decision at this point, though, unless he's being misquoted or taken out of context (which I wouldn't put past Dana Milbank but certainly wouldn't assume is true).

Whichever is the case, I don't have a problem with McCain's initial view, although I think it would be good if he backed off in the face of this new research. He does seem to be moving in that direction at the very least under the influence of his close friend Senator Sam Brownback. My suspicion is that he's in a transition at the moment. His website account of his view on stem cell research notably does not treat this particular issue at all:

Stem cell research offers tremendous hope for those suffering from a variety of deadly diseases - hope for both cures and life-extending treatments. However, the compassion to relieve suffering and to cure deadly disease cannot erode moral and ethical principles.

For this reason, John McCain opposes the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes. To that end, Senator McCain voted to ban the practice of "fetal farming," making it a federal crime for researchers to use cells or fetal tissue from an embryo created for research purposes. Furthermore, he voted to ban attempts to use or obtain human cells gestated in animals. Finally, John McCain strongly opposes human cloning and voted to ban the practice, and any related experimentation, under federal law.

As president, John McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos.

Where federal funds are used for stem cell research, Senator McCain believes clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress, and that any such research should be subject to strict federal guidelines.

I don't see anything there about using stem cells from embryos about to be destroyed. He says he hasn't changed his view yet, but I think he's probably at least suspended his view until further notice, even if he has not yet adopted Brownback's (while giving every indication that he probably will at some point).

Dobson vs. McCain

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James Dobson continues his crusade against the pro-life cause [hat tip: Justin Taylor]. Now that he can't use Rudy Giuliani's actual pro-choice views to prefer a hardcore pro-choicer to a moderate pro-choicer, he's stuck using John McCain's lukewarm but consistently pro-life views as an excuse to prefer a pro-choice president to a pro-life one. It's a strange way to try to pursue the pro-life agenda if you do everything you can to put into office those who will do everything they can to frustrate that agenda.

What's worse is how badly he misrepresents McCain's views. Here is what he gives as his reasons for preferring a radically pro-choice president to John McCain:

McCain "did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage".

Well, sure. He doesn't think that's what the Constitution is for. Is it better on pro-life principles to prefer Roe v. Wade staying on as the law of the land for decades or to vote for someone whose opposition to gay marriage isn't going to occur at the constitutional amendment level but rather at the level of mere law? This disagreement isn't about McCain not opposing gay marriage. It's about his not opposing it at the level of a constitutional amendment that never had any chance of passing to begin with. If Dobson thinks that's any reason to vote against him, he's gone off the deep end.

McCain "voted for embryonic stem cell research to kill nascent human beings".

That's a lie. What McCain did is vote for embryonic stem cell research that would use the stem cells from embryos that were already going to be killed one way or the other. There are pro-life people who wrongly think such research would violate pro-life principles. I've tried to argue against that claim. But Dobson could at least present his criticism accurately rather than slandering his fellow pro-lifer who happens to think the moral implications of the pro-life assumption go in a different direction on this one issue.

What's even worse is that McCain no longer even holds this position, something Dobson fails to mention. Isn't that a little bit relevant? A vote for McCain wouldn't support a president who advocates the view Dobson disagrees with, since McCain doesn't support that view. He's become convinced that there are now alternative ways of providing enough stem cells for the research he wants funded without relying on embryos, even ones who are already going to be killed. By not mentioning this extremely important fact, Dobson is misleading those who will reasonably be expected to conclude that McCain still holds this view, and deliberate deception is as bad morally as outright lying, even if the statement is literally true (not that it is; see the immediately previous paragraph).

Update: I've treated McCain's current views on this issue more fully here.

McCain "opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty".

First of all, it's important to recognize that many legislative packages are exactly that: packages. Legislators often vote against a package because of something in it, but it doesn't follow that they voted against it because of whatever particular item in it you happen to pick out as important to you. They may actually approve of that item but not of something else in it. So the fact that McCain voted against a packaged that included ending the marriage penalty doesn't mean he opposes ending the marriage penalty. In fact, his initial vote was in favor of this package, so something else must have been added to change his vote before the final version went through. The removal of the marriage penalty was part of the package he voted for. In fact, he supports exactly the sort of thing Dobson is implicating that he opposes. This is an excellent example of a literally true statement that has a clear implicature of something false, which is tantamount to a lie even if it's not technically false.

McCain "has little regard for freedom of speech".

I assume this has to do with campaign finance. To say that McCain has little regard for free speech is pretty low. He certainly opposes a certain use of money in electoral campaigns, and many conservatives see his views as limiting free speech. It's a little misleading to put it this way, though. What he's saying is that McCain has little regard for one particular use of money that should count as free speech. That would be accurate and precise. Since Dobson counts it as free speech, he could say that McCain has little regard for one particular kind of free speech. That would certainly be accurate on Dobson's view (and I agree with him). But the way he said it makes it sound as if it's free speech in general that McCain has little regard for, and that's at best misleading.

McCain "organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters in judicial hearings".

Was the single purpose of the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters in judicial hearings? Look again at what both sides of the 14 wanted in their compromise. It's true that the Democrats in the Gang of 14 were in it to preserve the chance to filibuster the nominees they saw as extreme, but the point of the compromise from the GOP side was to get a lot of the nominees the rest of the Democrats saw as extreme confirmed. McCain saw a chance to avoid a filibuster of a number of conservative nominees as long as he could keep some Republicans from removing the filibuster for a much smaller group of nominees that the seven Democrats in the Gang of 14 still wanted to oppose.

As is often the case in a narrowly divided legislative body, McCain was willing to compromise on a few more conservative nominees for the sake of a much larger group of pretty conservative nominees. He thought such a compromise would be better than losing the rights of the minority party to filibuster, something the Republicans in the Senate will probably be glad they will be able to use against the next Democratic president that Dobson is doing his best to have elected this year. I can see how someone might prefer to sacrifice that ability if they think it's wrong to use it to begin with (McCain doesn't) or if they shortsightedly think they'll retain the majority forever (which is pretty dumb), but please don't act as if someone who makes the wrong choice on that is a traitor to conservatism for wanting to get more conservative judges appointed than seemed likely. Keep in mind McCain's motivation. Dobson refuses to do so.

McCain "has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language".

True enough. Is that going to count as a serious criterion from a hardcore pro-life, nearly single-issue voter (as evidenced by his refusal to support Giuliani if he had won the nomination)? I can't see how this should count at all when the serious issues Dobson has against Clinton and Obama are at stake. If abortion is morally equivalent to murder, and the top priority of pro-life voters is to stop the tragic allowance of such evil, how relevant is it that the candidate most likely to be able to do anything about it uses foul language and gets angry pretty easily? If Dobson thinks opposing a foul-mouthed, angry presidential candidate is so all-important that it's worth refusing to do what he can (which is a fair amount given his influence) to prevent a president who will blithely dismiss all concerns for preventing the equivalent of the murder of millions of people, then his moral priorities are seriously screwed up. If abortion is indeed equivalent to murder, then a candidate's language shouldn't make the list of important considerations.

I've been taken to task in the past for criticizing Dobson on this (see the comments here). I'll let those comments stand as my justification for my willingness to do this despite recognizing all that he's done that I appreciate. I will note, though, that this instance seems even worse than the one I was criticizing before, because at least Giuliani really is pro-choice. Dobson is well-meaning, but I can't see how his comments serve the pro-life cause. They seem to me rather to be a betrayal of the very goals he wants to achieve, even more so on this occasion than the last time I took him to task over this.

McCain vs. Romney

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Since I'll be voting in the Super Tuesday primaries today, I thought I'd look at the two leading GOP candidates on the issues, because I think they've both been misrepresented by the pundits. Judging by the SelectSmart information, here is how they compare on the issues. I'll include some comments on Huckabee as I go to indicate why he's not getting as strong consideration. (Anyone who's been reading this blog for more than a week should know why Ron Paul gets zero consideration.)

On Iraq and general war on terrorism issues, I see no difference of substance. They both support the continued efforts in Iraq and have criticized the Bush Administration in pretty much the same ways as each other. (Huckabee's criticism has been stronger, but his forward policies are similar as far as I can tell.) They may well be different on budget/spending/deficit issues, but there's no easy way to measure that, and their rhetoric is pretty similar (whereas Huckabee seems to be at least a little to the left of both of them, but there is a disconnect between his rhetoric and his record, and it's hard to tell how much has to do with Arkansas-specific issues or things he's changed his mind on and how much has to do with general approach).

It's hard to see a difference between them on issues like marijuana legalization and medical marijuana (Huckabee does clearly oppose decriminalize medical marijuana, but the other two are at least toying with decriminalization). Both have at times favored minimum wage increases, but both have opposed them at times too (and Huckabee seems to be a pragmatist on the issue). Both support vouchers in education (and Huckabee does not).

It's also hard to tell how to compare them on environmental issues. McCain is more environment-friendly than most Republicans, but Romney may well be also. He's certainly more open to the reality of global warming than some Republicans have been (although most who resist making huge changes aren't resisting the premise, just insisting that the reality of global warming isn't the issue).

I see no difference in their current views on stem cells. (McCain at one point supported the use of stem cells from embryos who were already going to be killed, a view I don't think pro-lifers should have a problem with but many wrongly do. But given the strong possibilities with other kinds of stem cell research without killing any embryos, McCain has decided that there's no need to such an approach anymore, and he's now insisting on not supporting any funding for stem cell research that involves developing new lines from embryos that haven't yet been killed. So his position is now the same as Romney's. [Update: See here for more details that I've been able to dig up since writing this post. It's not quite as clear as I'd thought, but what I said here is in the direction of the truth.]

On other pro-life issues, Romney and McCain are pretty much in the same spot. Romney used to be pro-choice on the legal question (but never on the moral question), but he's now fully pro-life. McCain has always been pro-life, but I get the impression it's not an issue he
spends a lot of time getting worked up about. McCain does have a misleading statistic because some pro-life groups consider his campaign finance views to be against their desired methods of promoting their cause. But they're being pretty deceptive by pretending his campaign finance votes are pro-choice votes. On actual pro-life/pro-choice issues, he's consistently voted pro-life. So I see no real difference between these two here on the actual issues.

I never agreed with the argument made by James Dobson, Joe Carter, and others that Hillary Clinton would be preferable to Rudy Giuliani on pro-life grounds. The idea wasn't that she would do things as president that pro-lifers would be happy with. That's clearly false. As pro-choice as Giuliani is, she is much more committed to that cause, and he is at best lukewarm about it while retaining a much more conservative view on judicial matters, which would certainly have some impact on the future of Roe v. Wade.

No, the argument was that having a pro-choice president means (1) the party is pro-choice and (2) that there must be a pro-life party for the pro-life movement to succeed. (1) is shown false because no one thinks the Republican party is the party of guest worker programs and Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court just because President Bush wanted both. It's clear that (2) is also problematic given there was no civil rights party in the mid-1960s; significant numbers of members of both parties opposed the Civil Rights Acts of 1964-1965. Also, significant numbers of members of both parties opposed the Bush plan on immigration (albeit for different reasons). Party support doesn't necessarily go to a president on every issue, and often movements span parties while facing serious opposition from many influential members of both parties. I could easily see something like that happening with a pro-choice Republican president (or a pro-life Democrat if that were to happen).

So the argument at least recognized that Giuliani might be better for pro-life concerns in the short term. The claim was that the movement would be killed long-term by not having a pro-life party. I don't think this kind of argument succeeds, but it's at least honest about the relative positions of the candidates. Compare, now, Ann Coulter's completely ridiculous argument against John McCain. She's not focused completely or even mostly on abortion. This is about general conservatism. Otherwise it sounds on the surface to be a similar argument. Her premises are analogous. John McCain would make the Republican party too liberal, and having a too-liberal GOP would mean GOP goals are sacrificed long-term. But there's a key difference. Even aside from the problems with each premise along the lines of the original Giuliani argument, Coulter makes one claim that's just completely ridiculous about the factual basis of this to begin with. She claims that Hillary Clinton is more conservative than John McCain.

How could anyone possibly think such a thing? If we judge foreign policy by the standard view within each party, McCain is to the left of the GOP on a few issues but mostly with them, and Clinton is to the right of the GOP on a few issues but mostly with them. He favors staying in Iraq and trying to stabilize the situation a lot more, citing the success of the so-called surge as evidence that progress can be made. She's insisting that troop withdrawal needs to begin as soon as she takes the presidency. He thinks we need more troops in Iraq. He's an absolutist against torture (and insistent on calling certain techniques torture that other Republicans are hesitant to describe as torture). But certainly that position isn't a liberal-conservative one. An argument can even be made that it's liberal to soften our resistance to such techniques. It's moral conservatism to oppose them, one might argue. He's also consistently voted to renew Patriot Act and similar provisions, and she's sometimes done so and sometimes not.

On social issues, there's no comparison. She's not at this point endorsing gay marriage, but she didn't want it banned on the federal level. She and McCain both want something like civil unions. He's not to the left of her there. There's no question when it comes to abortion. If she were to become a single-issue candidate, abortion would be it. Her view is as extreme as it gets. She's never been willing to allow any restriction on abortion for any reason. He gets almost full support from right-to-life groups except when the issue is campaign finance. On actual abortion issues, he scores almost perfect on his voting record. His one weakness has been stem cell issues, and his view there was the Bill Frist view that using stem cells from embryos that were already going to be killed would be ok, a view I have defended on pro-life grounds. But McCain doesn't even hold this view anymore. He's since been convinced that there are now alternative methods to pursuing stem cell research with non-embryonic cells so that there's no need even to use the cells from destroyed embryos. In other words, his view is basically the standard GOP view on the issue. [Update: This isn't as clear as I'd thought, but he seems to be moving in that direction. See here for more detail.] Hillary Clinton's is the standard view of her party that we ought to manufacture human embryos in order to destroy them.

On immigration, he's certainly to the left of his party but no moreso than the current president, and no one's arguing that he's to the left of Hillary Clinton. The fact is that her view on the matter is no more conservative than his. I'm not convinced that their views are the same. I suspect she's more to the left on the issue than he is. But I don't see any indication that he's left of her. The same is true of any economic issue I'm aware of. He supports vouchers, and she opposes them. He's left of his party in getting 50% ratings by environmentalist groups, but she gets close to 90%. He supported Medicare prescription drug expansion, but so did she. She doesn't support universal health care anymore, but her plan is no more conservative than what he supports. The Chamber of Commerce gives him a 72% rating and her a 35% rating. He's a free-trader, which is usally seen as a conservative issue. She got 50% support from a free trade group one year and 17% the previous year. She opposes any privatizing of social security. He favors partial privatization. She gets 58% on balanced budget issues. He gets 95%.

On other issues, she generally supports the ACLU (ranging from 60% to 80% over three years), and he generally opposes them. She gets a 100% rating from the Brady Campaign and an F from the NRA. He gets 14% from Brady and a C+ from the NRA.You can look at the comparison yourself here. I think it's pretty clear that he's more conservative than she is on most issues, often considerably so, and even when he's not he's no more liberal than she is. This goes not just for all three major areas (economic, social, and foreign policy) but for all the sub-questions within each area. There's no question that Ann Coulter is either completely unwilling to look at the facts or flat-out lying. McCain has certainly not been my favorite candidate throughout this primary, but I can't see how anyone would think he's to the left of Hillary Clinton even on one issue, never mind as a whole. So those who hate McCain can go ahead and try to present the argument against him in the form of the argument above against Giuliani. I'd still dispute it on the same grounds I gave against the Giuliani version. But it's neither hopelessly ignorant nor insidiously malicious, and Coulter's argument is at least one of those.

Now it's a separate question whether conservatives should vote for McCain in their primaries. I hope to treat that question in a future post (and I especially hope to do so before my own primary next Tuesday). I don't ultimately think conservatives should oppose McCain in the general election even with the more substantial argument analogous to the anti-Giuliani argument, but it seems completely silly to me to oppose him in the general election on the ground that he's more liberal than Hillary Clinton. That claim is utterly ridiculous, and if Ann Coulter had not already lost all my respect this would have finished her off.

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