In 2010, JD Hayworth launched a primary challenge against John McCain, focusing primarily on McCain’s support for amnesty. However, he made a general Conservatism Inc. type challenge to McCain, criticizing his positions on bailouts, stem-cell research, Cap-and-Trade, Gitmo etc.
National Review unsurprisingly endorsed McCain, but qualified the endorsement by opening “That this magazine has not always agreed with Sen. John McCain’s judgments is an understatement.” Nonetheless, they did not even mention immigration in the entire article.
National Review could only muster three reasons to support McCain. The only real “conservative” issues they could find McCain reliable on was that he was instrumental to the “surge” in Iraq, and he had not supported tax increases and voted for pro-life justices (they didn’t mention that he voted for many pro-choice ones as well.)
However, JD Hayworth supported all those positions, as well as conservative positions on various issues that McCain sided with the Left.
The only actual criticism of Hayworth National Review mustered was that
Hayworth is, to say the least, not obviously a more exemplary statesman than McCain. On one of the most pressing issues of the day — the need to control federal spending — McCain has had the better record. That Hayworth appeared in infomercials to tell people how to get “free money” from the government underscores the point rather emphatically.
After this criticism, they noted “If McCain had a different challenger, we might think differently. But, taken together, these considerations move us to suggest that Arizona Republicans nominate Senator McCain.” [McCain, Once More, June 28, 2010]
If we are to take National Review’s word that they would support a hypothetical primary challenger to McCain, and given that they offered no other criticisms of Hayworth’s conservative credentials other than his appearance on the infomercial, it seems fair to assume that this was the main reason for them not to endorse Hayworth.
National Review editor Andrew McCarthy dissented from the endorsement, noting
Having generously discounted McCain’s decades of policy error and intemperate outbursts, they seize on a single Hayworth misstep — his appearance, when he was not a public official, in infomercials instructing people on how to get “free money” from the government. This is bizarre: At the very time Hayworth was doing that, McCain was a public official pushing policies that would actually give people free money from the government. Nevertheless, the editors deduce from this episode that Hayworth is “not obviously a more exemplary statesman than McCain.” [Why Endorse McCain?, July 1, 2010]
Why do I mention this now? I cancelled my subscription to National Review after they fired John Derbyshire, but they still spam my inbox with various advertisements. Yesterday, I received the following e-mail from National Review:
Dear National Review Reader,
Please find this special message from our sponsoring advertiser Moneynews.com. This important support affords us the continuing means to provide you with National Review's distinctly conservative and always exceptional news and commentary. We encourage you to patronize our sponsors.
National Review, Inc.
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