A recent Jonathan Martin account of the McCain campaign’s journeys through New Hampshire included this line, which I much enjoyed:
McCain’s five-car, two-bus crew pushed out onto about a half-foot of snow prepared for the challenge. With a snowplow-equipped pickup truck ( License plate: GIT R DNE) leading the way, the convoy encountered no delays from the hotel in Nashua to the first stop of the day in Milford.
I thought of this again after reading David’s “WHAT IS A ‘TRUE CONSERVATIVE?’” post–and another news account of the U.S. attorneys controversy currently enveloping my city. And while I certainly don’t want to echo Michael Dukakis, it occurs to me that the current presidential race could use a lot less “Who’s your conservative daddy?” (apologies to Toby Keith) and a lot more “Git ‘r done.”
What do I mean by that? Well, think about the mess we have on our hands right now. For all his faults, Alberto Gonzales is a reasonably conservative man. The major problem is not that he’s a liberal, although he could afford to be more conservative. It’s that he’s not getting the job done. He could be the living embodiment of Ronald Reagan’s politics, but it wouldn’t help. The man just doesn’t know how to kill a silly political spat before it unjustly turns into a scandal, and he’s about to lose his job because of it. That’s not about not being the “Conservative Messiah”–it’s about failing to “GIT R DNE,” as John McCain’s snowplow jockey would put it.
The same can be said for Iraq. All of us here at EFM believe that President Bush did the right–and the truly conservative–thing by taking the fight to the enemy, in contrast to the Clinton years. Fine. Ideologically, we’re on board. And in many ways, everyone is too hard on him for the lack of progress. But still, it’s fair to point out that we’re not exactly getting it done in Iraq. As Secretary Rice herself recently admitted, for example, more troops were needed before now, and the continuing “revision” of the surge number is, frankly, a bit embarassing. Again, at least according to our definition of conservatism, he’s doing the right thing ideologically–taking down a threat (then) and not surrendering (now). What’s needed is not more orthodoxy, but better execution. We need to git ‘r done.
All of this is by way of suggesting that what we conservatives need as a presidential candidate is not the most right-wing guy available. We need a candidate who is a conservative, we need to recognize that nothing in this world is perfect including any person’s answers to David’s quiz or any other, and we need a candidate who can turn those conservative beliefs into achievements. That is the lesson of the past six years. Yes, it would be nice if President Bush were more conservative. But it would be nicer if he were better at getting it done–because even on the issues on which he is reasonably conservative, that is often lacking.
And, of course, with all of this in mind, I think we should rally behind the conservative Republican who has been an outrageously successful CEO and turned around both a left-wing state and an Olympic boondoggle. He’s gotten it done–and so can conservatives if we quit whining and start winning.