I’m sick of hearing the phrase, but I have a feeling it’s only going to get louder and shriller in the next few weeks.
No I don’t mean the talking points themselves (whatever they are). I’m not a McCain supporter, although I would certainly vote for him over Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Rather, I am hearing the “McCain Talking Points” charge (and other similar charges) being used as a cudgel to impugn the motivations people who are not all that enthusiastic about McCain, but are realists who’ve seen the various polls and have concluded that he’s the best chance the GOP has to defeat the Democrats.
I’m seeing this ugliness emerging in the blogosphere, and I hear it on talk radio. Earlier I heard Bill Bennett (and if he’s not a conservative who is?) being lambasted by an irate listener who considers his preference of McCain to Romney some form of treason, and who accused him of being a McCain shill, whose views are not his, but are instead “McCain Talking Points.”
There’s a lot of screaming going on, and this election is causing turmoil on talk radio:

conservative talk radio and blogger colleagues are beside themselves at the prospect that one of the Republican contenders they deemed to be “not conservative” might be nominated. As Mike Huckabee won Iowa, John McCain took South Carolina and Fred Thompson bestirred himself to draft a note withdrawing from the race, the fretting has intensified. How could the voters reject their advice?

I don’t agree with all of the analysis, as I think a growing number of Republicans are realizing that if it is possible for McCain to actually beat Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama), then the Republican Party will have won in spite of itself, because the consensus for months has been that the party was in hopeless disarray and incapable of victory. If the GOP can pull off a victory after a two-term, unpopular president, an unpopular war, and scandal after scandal, it will seem a little bit like winning the lottery. So my theory is that a number of GOP voters are a bit more cynical than they’re commonly given credit for being, and they’re fully capable of thinking along the lines of, “Hell, even if I can’t stand McCain, if he can win this one for the dysfunctional GOP, let him try!”
That comes pretty close to my thinking, and I hardly think it’s fair to call it “McCain Talking Points.”
I will say a few kind words about McCain though. He’s not Satan. He’s not Hitler. And while numerous netizens disagree, he’s also not a “traitor.”
I am still extremely sore over McCain-Feingold. I don’t like his obvious sympathy for illegal alien amnesty, and I don’t care what he calls it. But I do think that overall he’s been more honest than Romney, and as I said before, I prefer McCain slightly. The main reason is that I am vehemently anti-Clinton, and I think the Clintons would clearly prefer to run against Romney.
It’s not an endorsement, and these observations are hardly “McCain talking points.” I can hold my nose in the same Machiavellian manner I’ve been holding it all these years, and vote for him.
I’m also a bit of a contrarian with a long memory, and the more McCain is subjected to paranoid attacks, the more I’m reminded of what was done to him in the 2000 campaign.
Here’s what arch liberal Jonah Goldberg said at the time:

I have not been terribly supportive of the McCain campaign. National Review magazine has been positively brutal. But the sort of moronic, venal, cowardly, and immoral stuff being thrown at McCain from certain segments of the loony Right is sending me his way. At the risk of e-mail-box overflow, I think these people are revealing themselves as fools and they are hurting the conservative movement.

I remember it well — the Manchurian candidate smear, the “Vietnamese agent” charge, cries of “traitor” and (my personal favorite) the “fag candidate.” I didn’t like it, and it was one of the reasons I had to hold my nose to vote for Bush — the man who has done so much for the “conservative movement” that it’s almost impossible to define what it is anymore. For now at least, McCain’s opponents are more civil than they were in 2000, and of course there are many things wrong with McCain, so I can’t fault them for speaking up.
I just wish they’d be more polite. Not everyone who thinks McCain might be able to beat the Clintons is a sellout or a shill.
EDITORIAL NOTICE: This post (and many like it) was edited in my typical “20 minute” manner. As I don’t have WYSIWYG capacity, I really can’t see what my posts look like until they’re published and I can view them in the blog. It is at that point that I proofread and edit them. So, please bear in mind that I typically change and rearrange words any way I see fit — and I try to adhere to a twenty minute rule. What that means that for the first twenty minutes after a post is up, my spelling, grammar, word choice, and ways of phrasing things are all fair game and subject to my revision without any notice. This can even extend to factual data I get wrong; for example if I say “Iraq” and I meant “Iran,” if I say “Bush” reflexively when I meant to type “Bubba,” if I omit words that should have been there (such as “not” which can convey the complete opposite meaning), I’ll change them to conform to what I meant to say.
What I do not revise — even in the first twenty minutes — are my opinions. If I change my mind, or if it turns out that I was factually wrong about a topic of importance, I’ll admit my mistake in an update. But once the dust has settled and post has been up there, the only errors I correct are obvious spelling errors. With maybe two exceptions in four years, I almost never delete posts, and I only very, very rarely delete comments, or names of people. (Although I have on a couple of occasions deleted things which were specifically requested by people who wanted to preserve their privacy.) On such rare occasions, there will be an explanation in an update or a new post.
UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, here’s Roger L. Simon has a great post about “McCain Derangement Syndrome.”

….Welcome to McCain Derangement Syndrome – it’s happening before he’s even elected!
I heard two examples of it this evening – one from my friend Hugh Hewitt, whose rage against McCain today on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show made the hair curl on my bald head and later, on the Larry Elder Show, I listened in as a woman caller excoriated McCain as no war hero even though she knew the Senator had spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, was tortured, had his bones broken yet stayed with the other troops when offered a chance to leave, etc. Even Elder was appalled at the woman, though Larry is no McCain supporter.

Noting that Romney’s years of being to McCain’s left while McCain was a centrist, Roger finds himself unable to explain MDS:

I am amazed by all these conservatives who totally and almost slavishly believe this is the real Romney yet equally assuredly distrust McCain when he repeatedly says he would build a security fence. It reminds me of that old shrink’s thing about the “need to be right,” how it always trips us up. I have seen it happen to me a lot. Anyway, I’m not sure McCain Derangement Syndrome has a cure. People love their anger. It’s a security blanket.

A pity, really. Especially for those in love with their anger.
And, yes, even their hatred.
Aren’t they’re forgetting that they have a traditional outlet?
(This really should have been an update to my previous post on McCain Derangement Syndrome, but few people read updates to old posts, so it goes here.)