Bainbridge Revises and Extends

Steve Bainbridge has a lengthy post responding to some questions that Steven Taylor and I have put to him vis-a-vis why he’s so vehemently against John McCain after having supported his ideological twin, Fred Thompson. He makes some good points about actions McCain has taken that have irritated him but also acknowledges that personality is a part of the equation, in that he finds McCain “arrogant, selfish, unintelligent, and generally smarmy.”

This is reasonable enough, I think, even though we disagree at least somewhat in our assessment. (Certainly, I think McCain’s at least as smart as, say, Thompson.) At some point, style and personality matter just as much as issues. As I’ve noted before, I’d much sooner vote for Barack Obama — or, heck, Chris Dodd or Joe Biden — than Hillary Clinton, despite being closer on the issues to Clinton. We can’t always explain our visceral instincts but we generally trust them.

Regardless, Bainbridge backs off a bit on his threat to sit out the election to teach the Republican Party a lesson:

Having said all that, I must admit that I find McCain the least objectionable of the remaining 4 major candidates. I can’t see myself voting for any of these guys on Feb 5 in the California primary. If we end up with a McCain-Clinton race in November, however, I’ll reconsider my plan to sit out the 2008 general election.

Which doesn’t really surprise me. We’re all disappointed when our favorite candidate loses (I preferred Phil Gramm in 20001996, for example, until his quick exit) but those of us who truly care about politics almost always choose among the available options. I’ve been truly excited to vote twice* — for Reagan in 1984 and Bush in 2000 — but have managed to nonetheless drag myself out to participate in all the other elections in between and since.


*Electile Dysfunction, indeed.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Do realize that much of Bainbridge’s disdain for Romney is him traveling with his dog on the roof of his car a few decades ago. So yes, there is something visceral in how we pick our candidates.

  2. Bithead says:

    Thompson is McCain’s Ideological twin?
    UNder what conditions, would Thompson have come up with the idiocy needed to craft the ‘gang of 14″ deal? Or, McCain’s signiture peice, McCain Finegold?

    I mean, there is much they agree on but not by principle, James.

  3. Bithead,

    For what it is worth, Thompson was one of 11 Reps to vote for McCain-Feingold and was strongly behind McCain when he ran in 2000. As such, what James says isn’t a stretch.

    While I can certainly understand why one wouldn’t want to vote for McCain, I continue to be vexed at the notion that McCain and Thompson are somehow like matter and anti-matter, as until this race the perception, based in reality, is that they two were from the same portion of the GOP.

    Indeed, those who don’t like McCain and love Fred seem to always cite McCain-Feingold as McCain’s original sin, yet always ignore (or are perhaps unaware of) Thompson’s complicity in said sinful act.

  4. James Joyner says:

    UNder what conditions, would Thompson have come up with the idiocy needed to craft the ‘gang of 14″ deal?

    It turns out to have been a pretty good deal in hindsight. We got most all of the judges we wanted, including both SCOTUS nominees, and still have the filibuster intact with a Republican minority.

    Or, McCain’s signiture peice, McCain Finegold?

    Steven’s covered that one.

  5. Bithead says:

    The ‘global warming’ hoax he’s signed onto.
    Illegal aliens.
    Etc, Etc. Etc.

    Frankly I’m non-plussed by the lot, at this point. And so. as it did in 2000, it comes down to who among the front runners is going to cause the least damage to the Republic, not to who is willing to advance it’s standing.

    And Steven, you make an excellent point about Fred voting with him on McCain Finegold. (I wonder why McCain hasn’t noted that point, louder. ) Yet, there’s a major difference between going along to get along and coming up with something to begin with. I understand and admire people who can act with expediency at need. I do so myself, as do we all at times. But not when they’re trying to sell me on how principled they are.

  6. Bithead says:

    Let me explain this further by passing along something I wrote at my own place today, as regards sitting this election out if McCain gets himself nominated.

    ….at some point the price has to be paid for moving so far away from Republican principles. That time may or may not be now. We used the same ideas about ‘any Republican in the WH is better than any Democrat” when we elected GWB. And while he’s been OK on the WOT, (An eventuality we couldn’t have foreseen) his actions on the domestic side have been more problematic.Mexican Immigration for example. I have to say that in the end, Iraq is a shorter term concern than are these United States. If anything, McCain comes down to the left on many domestic issues, in comparison to GWB. And GWB’s been a problem there. An election is always a question, even in the most ideal of situations, whom will do the republic the least damage. The in that light question becomes, how much damage will a McCain presidency do to those principles, and to the country as a whole, thereby?

  7. Tlaloc says:

    The ‘global warming’ hoax he’s signed onto.

    And he believes the world is round. (Heresy!)

    And that the earth moves, can you feel it moving? Nay I say it is solid! But he would have you believe it is ball flying through space. And why pray tell, Mr. McCain, are we not thrown off this hurtling orb as it makes its transit through the firmament?

    And I tell you good people that even now he thinks, if you can call it that, within the recesses of his mind that we are naught but monkeys. Monkeys, I say! Merely apes that have lost their hair and tails and chosen to stand up. He sees you and your family as nothing but animals with pretensions of grandeur. Well his mirror reflects not a baboon but a buffoon, incapable of using the wits god gave him.

    [did I hit enough of the “we hate science” club’s greatest hits? Seriously when have you guys ever been right?]

  8. NoZe says:

    Wasn’t Gramm in 1996?

    I’ve been genuinely excited in voting twice as well…for Clinton in 1992 and 1996. I’m for Hillary this time, but it isn’t the same!

  9. James Joyner says:

    Wasn’t Gramm in 1996?

    Strangely, yes. Time really flies!

    Not sure who I initially supported in 2000. Maybe Kasich?

  10. mannning says:

    Any Republican must be better than Hillary or Obama; at least they wear the elephant on their lapels. Give the choices–John, Mitt, or Huck–I will vote against Hillary and Company no matter who is our eventual standard bearer. How anyone can contemplate voting for Hillary is simply beyond the pale. Or, Obama. And sitting it out is self-defeating.

    Bainbridge knew this too–from the start, I believe.

  11. mannning says:

    And that includes Rudy, too! I do not like to admit it, but there he is!

  12. Bithead says:

    Stow it, Taloc.

    (If I sound a little tired of the nonsense, it’s what I intend.)

    Global Warming isn’t science, it has been made a hoax BY science, many times over. And that McCain signs onto it, tells me all I need to know about how much tax money and jobs are going to be sacrificed to this phantom crisis under a McCain presidency.

    And oh, by the way, had you noticed he’s not been saying much on that topic of late, partyicularly where he has to deal with actual Republicans? We USED to call that “Pandering”.

  13. Paul says:

    I’ve been truly excited to vote twice* — for Reagan in 1984 and Bush in 2000

    Did Gore run over your dog? Twice?

    I see you don’t list 2004.

  14. James Joyner says:

    Bainbridge knew this too–from the start, I believe.

    Well, Bainbridge lives in California, which will almost certainly cast all of its Electoral Votes for the Democrat. It’s not as if he’s in a swing state.

    I see you don’t list 2004.

    Nope. An easy enough choice and all, but not much excitement the second go-round.

  15. sam says:

    A bit off topic, well maybe not, but I see where John Cole referred to Thompson as “The Great White Nope.”

  16. Bithead says:

    I also see the New York Times endorsed him. Nothing at all shocking about that. Wouldn’t you expect the New York Times to support the far leftist candidate?

  17. Michael says:

    Any Republican must be better than Hillary or Obama; at least they wear the elephant on their lapels.

    Seriously? Do you think the Medicare prescription drug card plan would have passed a GOP majority in congress if it were proposed by a Hillary Clinton Administration? Heck, even a GOP minority would have done their best to block that.

    A liberal Democrat would be opposed by conservatives in Congress, but a liberal (fiscally anyway) Republican would has hardly been opposed by either conservative Republicans or Liberal Democrats. Just compare what passed during Clinton’s administration with a GOP congress to what passed during Bush’s administration with a GOP congress.

    If you really do care about conservative ideals, you should probably prefer a liberal you will oppose to a liberal you won’t.

  18. Michael says:

    Global Warming isn’t science, it has been made a hoax BY science

    Ok, you can disagree on the amount caused by humans, you can disagree on the amount of “doom and gloom” it is going to cause, but you can’t say that Global Warming doesn’t happen.

    This goes back to our previous discussions on Evolution, if something has been proven you can’t still disbelieve in it. CO2 traps heat in the atmosphere, we know that. Burning oil and coal takes carbon from underground, and puts it into the atmosphere, we know that. Therefore burning oil and coal causes more heat to be trapped in the atmosphere, this is indisputable.

  19. Paul says:

    Excellent post Michael. The only way the Republicans will get back Congress any time soon is from a reaction to a Democratic President, particularly Hillary. The only apparent path to any fiscal responsibility in DC is a Republican Congress with a Democratic President they don’t want to prop up.

  20. Tlaloc says:

    Global Warming isn’t science, it has been made a hoax BY science, many times over.

    Where was your Ph.D. in climate science from Bithead? You know the one I mean- the one that makes you more qualified than the entire rest of the scientific community…

    See this is why I made the point I did, you are EXACTLY like the flat earthers, EXACTLY like the crationists, and EXACTLY like the geocentric universe-ers. You believe you know more about one corner of the world than the thousands of people who have worked hard, experimented, collaborated, predicted, and detected in order to understand that corner.

    And what makes you qualified? Nothing, but a deep down desire not to believe, which just like wioth the flat earthers, trumps all logic and fact.

  21. mannning says:

    Let me avoid logic, and just say that the liberal mind is incomprehensible to me, as evidenced by the statements of the stars of the party that we all know. I had rather fight my fights inside the elephant tent than in the breezeway or the wild Serengeti-like outside. There are far too many issues on the liberal side that I oppose very strongly, and I could take up a good part of this blog just to define and knock them.

    For starters, though, how about well over 50 million dead babies that no one on the liberal side mourns at all? Ah! Ah! Don’t dare say that the rate of abortions is falling! Not so!

  22. Paul says:

    With all due respect, saying the two are “ideological twins” based on a single vote is silly.

    — On a side note some people are still gullible enought to believe in global warming? go figure.