McCain's money

[Alex]

At The Plank Jason Zengerle links to an Arizona Republic piece detailing John McCain's success in raising money from people who gave money to George W Bush. Zengerle headlines his post "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, cont'd."

But this recurring theme in the liberal blogosphere is, well, nuts. The argument - as best I can understand it - is that McCain's ambition is such that he will sell any principle, accept any money that further his presidential ambitions and that this is entirely regrettable. Well, maybe so. But at some point a serious politician has to be serious about winning. And that inevitably means engaging with people who may not agree with you.

McCain, then, is pilloried for having the audacity to try and win - a messy, compromising business at the best of times. But ideological purity is for losers. It's understandable that liberals would want to construct a narrative in which McCain sells his soul to the Republican right since, in some respects at leadst, McCain is the biggest obstacle (right now) to a Democratic victory in 2008, but that doesn't mean there's anything illegitimate or depressing about what McCain is trying to do.

In any case taking money from the right doesn't necessarily mean McCain is abandoning principle any more than would be the case with any other politician. He was sharply criticsed when he addressed Jerry Falwell's Libery University last year for instance. But in fact McCain's commencement address at Liberty was an eloquent call for tolerance, service and respect.

I don't know if it made McCain many friends at Liberty but I do know that I'd rather listen to a politician prepared to talk to people who don't share his opinions than to one who always and only speaks to the choir and seeks to win simply by motivating his party's base.