True confession time. Before Palin (BP), I was leaning toward Obama. I thought he was marginally less likely to drop a nuclear bomb on some hapless third world country than mad bomber McCain. I regarded, and still do, foreign policy as more important than domestic, given that “war is the health of the state.” And, there was very little to choose between the Republocrats and the Demopublicans on economics. Socialism from both quarters (although I admit it, the prospect of Alan Dershowitz on the Supreme Court did give me pause for thought). But now, after Palin (AP), I am shifting my allegiance to the Republicans.
In other words, even though he regards foreign policy as more important than domestic policy, GOP domestic policy is not sufficiently different to merit consideration and the Palin choice changes absolutely nothing about GOP foreign policy–Mr. Block does not even make the effort to claim otherwise–it must be time to back the GOP. Mr. Block joins those wavering Obamacans and other right-wing hopers in being swayed into supporting a GOP nominee whose policies they found so objectionable that they were almost driven to support a left-liberal Democrat, only to yield in the final stretch because Mrs. Palin (that Mrs. is all-important, it seems) has arrived. It doesn’t make sense, and it is pretty clear that everyone knows that it doesn’t make sense, which is about par for the course with the electorate this year. After all, a significant bloc of anti-Bush and antiwar conservatives voted for McCain in the primary–never mind that he backed Bush on pretty much every major policy of the last eight years–so it shouldn’t be too surprising if they back McCain/Palin. It does seem harder to understand support for this ticket when it comes from a Rothbard-invoking, Bourne-quoting, high-information libertarian professor. You will not be surprised to read elsewhere in his column that he hallucinates the possibility of Palin appointing Ron Paul to be Vice President in the event that she succeeds to the Presidency and considers this within the realm of possibility. Mr. Block is also compelled to make this outlandish claim:
The Barr-Root ticket is arguably less libertarian than Sarah Palin.
That would be an interesting argument to read, since I’m fairly certain it would involve dwelling on Barr’s past record that he has repudiated and ignoring everything Palin has had to say about foreign policy and the treatment of detainees since she became the VP nominee. Suffice it to say, I am planning to vote for Barr. For some reason opposition to the PATRIOT Act, Real ID and the FISA bill seems better than support for these things, which is what a vote for McCain or Obama means.
Mr. Block’s confession is an example of what I was talking about earlier today. I can understand a pro-life foreign policy hawk* finding a McCain/Palin ticket to be very exciting and worth supporting–it is the new fusionism in action. I understand that most people who call themselves conservatives and most people in the GOP would fit this description, so in this narrow sense I do see why there has been an enthusiastic response from all those who already think McCain’s bellicosity is a plus. Iraq War/Culture War is a pairing that satisfies most members of the party, and if social conservatives are content to have their priorities ignored in exchange for a little symbolism they have found their dream ticket. Even though poll after poll during the primaries showed that Republicans wanted a Repblican in the mold of Reagan and insisted that Bush was not such a Republican, Bush’s approval numbers among Republicans remain shockingly good even now (see question 5 crosstabs) and in the average Republican’s view it is not really an indictment of McCain and Palin to say that they represent Bushism. On the contrary, it would be considered a compliment. If Bush did not attend the convention thanks to a timely excuse of having to cope with hurricane relief, this was a tactical distancing of the party from the man an overwhelming majority of the delegates would still regard as a successful, unappreciated President (no, really!). So I can wrap my mind around the activist and rank-and-file response, but I confess my complete bewilderment when I read something like what Mr. Block has written. If Rothbardians respond with this kind of gushing, regular Republican voters would have to go overboard just to keep up.
*Whether it is consistent to be pro-life and to be in favor of all the things many hawks favor is another question, but not one that can be resolved here.