By the time you read this column, the primaries in Michigan and
Arizona will have taken place. But what happened in South Carolina last
Saturday is very much worth reviewing. Conservatism won big among
Republicans in that primary. If you add Alan Keyes’ 5 percent of the
vote to George Bush’s 54 percent, you get a whopping 59 percent for the
conservative cause. Whichever way you look at it, South Carolinian
Republicans preferred Bush’s brand of conservatism to John McCain’s, for
a number of good reasons. They didn’t like the way McCain appealed to
Democrats and independents (plus libertarians and vegetarians), and they
didn’t like the fact that so many Democrats and independents liked
McCain’s brand of conservatism. They resented the idea that Democrats
and independents should have the power to choose the Republican nominee.

They also did not appreciate Warren Rudman’s calling the religious
right a bunch of bigots. In a state with lots of fundamentalist
Christians, that was the worst thing that could have been said by a
McCain supporter. It just about alienated the entire bloc of Christian
conservatives. The fact that the Christian Coalition is strongly opposed
to McCain’s campaign finance reform legislation, which the senator from
Arizona touts as the means of breaking the so-called Iron Triangle of
special interests, means that wherever he goes he will have the
opposition of a large segment of the religious right.

McCain insists that he is a conservative Republican, and he cites his
voting record in Congress as proof of that. In an interview with Tim
Russert, he took some stands that virtually all conservatives could
agree with. He said he was strongly opposed to any attempts by states or
the federal government to impose sales taxes on Internet commerce. He
said that e-commerce had actually created budget surpluses in many
states, because the increased profitability of Internet sales had
increased state revenues from corporate income taxes. He also reiterated
his strong support for the second amendment right of citizens to own

But when it comes to foreign policy, that’s where his rhetoric begins
to scare people. His gung-ho, pro-war record on Kosovo does not sit well
with many conservatives. He said that we had to do everything in our
power to win that war. Now that we’ve won it, what have we won? Before
NATO started dropping bombs on Belgrade, the Serbs had the situation
well in hand. They were fighting the Albanian insurgents in an
aggressive but effective way. But not even NATO thought that their
bombing would trigger the wholesale expulsion of almost a million
Kosovar Albanians from the province. That was Milosevic’s means of
revenge against NATO. Meanwhile, the reports of mass killings of Kosovar
Albanians by Serbs have proven to be largely exaggerated.

So now we are saddled with a prolonged occupation of Kosovo in which
Serbs are being killed by Albanians and in which Albanians are becoming
increasingly impatient and hostile toward the occupying powers. Yes, we
won the war. But what did we win? A Yugoslavia in ruins, and the
privilege of creating a NATO protectorate in the Balkans where
hostilities between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians are bound to resume once
we leave, if indeed we can leave in the next 50 years.

Woodrow Wilson, whom McCain admires, tried to rearrange Europe’s
boundaries after World War I, in the hope of creating a lasting peace.
But all it did was set the stage for World War II. And we have done the
same thing in Kosovo: simply set the stage for the next war between
Serbs and Kosovars. These people have long memories.

In a speech McCain gave on foreign policy at Kansas State University
in March 1999, he made it quite clear that he espouses an expanded view
of American leadership in the world. He said:

    We enter the new century a peerless, mature power. And despite
    the isolationist views of a distinct minority, we have every intention
    of continuing to use our primacy in world affairs for humanity’s
    benefit. Given that our experiences in this century will inform our
    leadership in the next century, we should prove to be an even abler
    champion for mankind.

The senator forgets that the purpose of our government is to
secure the unalienable rights of the American people, not of mankind.
Our Constitution limits our government’s jurisdiction to the territory
within our borders. Other nations have their own governments and
constitutions. We didn’t like the fact that the former Soviet Union was
interested in changing our form of government into a communist one. The
Soviet Union also said it was a champion for mankind and that communism
was working for humanity’s benefit. Just because we are the world’s only
superpower does not give us the right to impose our way of life on other
nations. You don’t have to be an isolationist to see that we have no
right to meddle in the affairs of other nations if they pose no threat
to us.

McCain further said: “I strongly support the expansion of NATO, as
well as the two great trade successes, NAFTA and the Uruguay Round. …
I want NATO to endure for another 50 years or another century, for that
matter.” NATO was created as a defensive force against Soviet aggression
in Europe. That threat no longer exists. So what’s the purpose of
expanding NATO? It departed from its defensive purpose when it became an
aggressive force in bombing a defenseless European capital for the first
time since World War II. Had the Soviet Union done that, it would have
started World War III.

McCain has proudly proclaimed himself to be an “internationalist,”
and he is harshly critical of so-called isolationists and
protectionists. That is why he let Pat Buchanan have it with both guns.
But the battle between isolationists and internationalists is a false
one created by internationalists whose real agenda is world government.
The vast majority of Americans are neither isolationist nor
internationalist in the terms defined by the liberal power elite. The
desire not to get involved in other people’s conflicts is not a desire
to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. It’s to limit the
expenditure of American lives and treasure in conflicts that are none of
our business.

As for protectionism, every nation has the right to determine what
sorts of measures are necessary to defend the economic interests of its
people. All one has to do is cross an international border to understand
what protectionism is all about. Just drive from San Diego to Tijuana in
Mexico and you will see what a border can do. Borders are in and of
themselves protectionist by their very nature. I’m sure that Senator
McCain does not want to abolish the border between Mexico and the United
States, particularly since he represents Arizona. That makes him a
protectionist whether he likes it or not.

Indeed, there are many Democrats and independents who would vote for
McCain over Gore in the general election if they were given that
opportunity. But I can’t see how any sane individual could choose Gore
over Bush. If McCain gets the nomination, many conservatives will seek
an alternative or not vote at all. If Bush is nominated, he will have
the backing of virtually all conservatives and the religious right as

Meanwhile, Bradley is giving the Republicans more than enough
ammunition that can be used against Gore in the November election. The
Gore-Bradley contest has been eclipsed by the more interesting
Bush-McCain battle, which promises to be quite a spectacle in the days
ahead. There is something about McCain’s tenacity and crusader mentality
that will not permit him to quit too soon.

Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of eight books on education,
including “NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education,” “The Whole
Language/OBE Fraud,” and “Is Public Education Necessary?” These books
are available on For information about Blumenfeld’s reading
instruction program, “Alpha-Phonics,” please write: The Tutoring
Company, P.O. Box 540111, Waltham, MA 02454-0111, or call

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