Well, I guess we’re all pretty relieved we didn’t drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge back in 2002. What a disaster that would have been.

The vote on ANWR was almost entirely along partisan lines, with all Republicans, except a handful of “moderates,” voting for drilling, and all Democrats, except the exotic sane ones like Zell Miller, voting against drilling.

John McCain opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because he polled soccer moms and found out they were against drilling. They thought it sounded too much like going to the dentist. McCain wanted to ensure that he remained beloved by the two pillars of his base: “centrists” and New York Times reporters.

Even Sen. Chuck Hagel voted for drilling in ANWR! But John McCain, “our” candidate, voted against it.

I guess we’re beginning to see the problem with basing a political philosophy on the passing whims of “centrists.” These are people who have no opinions because they know nothing. They would check “not sure/no opinion” on polls about the legalization of cannibalism. So the principal downside is that, the moment they acquire any knowledge, they’ll realize you’re an idiot.

In their defense, soccer moms and “centrists” aren’t being paid to know something about national issues. Those people we call “senators” and “representatives.”

But now, astronomical gas prices have forced even soccer moms to spend 10 minutes looking at a problem that their leaders were supposed to be thinking about for years. With gas prices through the roof, now the soccer moms are saying: Drill! Drill! Drill! Jimmy, come down off of there! Stop hitting your sister! Where was I? Oh, yeah … Drill! Drill! Drill!

Consequently, McCain recently switched his position to go along with the new position of the centrists.

It’s always the same argument. Year after year, the “moderate Republicans” so respected at The New York Times harangue us to dump the Christians, the conservatives, the Swift Boat Veterans, the “right-wing extremists,” the gun-and-God clingers and the pro-lifers from our party so we can repel every American who voted for Ronald Reagan in order to win the votes of people like Christie Todd Whitman.

Yes, by all means let’s clear out all that deadwood and pave the way for a 49-state landslide! (For the Democrats.)

McCain followed the Times’ strategy to a T. He called Jerry Falwell an “agent of intolerance.” He called the Swift Boat Veterans “dishonest and dishonorable.” He has denounced every Christian minister who tries to endorse him. Over the years, McCain has ostentatiously attacked all issues of importance to conservatives and embraced every crackpot liberal idea, including the left’s latest plan to exterminate the human race, called “global warming.”

Two weeks ago, McCain skipped the capitol prayer breakfast in California in order to appear with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at an environmental event in chi-chi Santa Barbara. Schwarzenegger’s absence marked the first time a governor skipped what is known as “the governor’s prayer breakfast.” (I guess in the world of moderate Republicans an environmental event qualifies as a religious observance.)

The keynote speaker at the breakfast, Hollywood producer Mark Joseph, quoted a recent cover article in Christianity Today by professors Daniel Taylor and Mark McCloskey:

“In premodern times, the courage of a leader often had to be physical. In the last 500 years it is more often moral. Moral courage is the ability to do what’s right even when it is deeply unpopular, even dangerous. Courage is only found where there is the genuine possibility of loss — loss of friends, reputation, status, power, possessions or, at the extremes, freedom or life.”

No wonder McCain and Schwarzenegger skipped it.

Moderate Republicans like McCain seem to actually believe liberal nonsense about Ronald Reagan’s appeal having absolutely nothing to do with his conservative principles. Don’t be like him! You’ll lose the soccer moms! Liberals assure us that Reagan won landslide elections because Americans were mesmerized by his sunny disposition and corny jokes. If that’s true, why isn’t Al Roker president?

The irony is, the only people McCain can count on to vote for him are the very Republicans he despises — at least those of us who can get drunk enough on Election Day to pull the lever for him. In fact, we should organize parties around the country where Republicans can get drunk enough to vote for McCain. We can pass out slogan-festooned vomit bags. For more information, go to getdrunkandvote4mccain.com.

Not being ignorant “centrists,” we know what a world-class disaster a “President Obama” will be. Meanwhile, the centrists McCain spent years impressing with his denunciations of conservatives will be voting for Obama. They think he’s cute.

How many times do we have to run this experiment?

Taking the advice of Democrats, Republicans ran “moderates” for president in 1944, 1948, 1976, 1992 and 1996. All lost. Republicans also ran a “moderate” for president in 1988, but only unwittingly. (We thought Bush had learned something from Reagan.) In the language of the market, the best tip on “moderate Republicans” is: SELL! SELL! SELL!

But now, apparently, we have to run the experiment all over again. This year, moderate Republicans have hit the jackpot. John McCain is their Platonic ideal.

To paraphrase Richard Nixon on George McGovern in 1972: Here we have a situation where moderate Republicans finally have a candidate who almost totally shares their views. Now we’ll see what the country thinks.

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