Another Verse, Just Like the First

Eight years ago, Gary Bauer stood all but alone alongside John McCain in his campaign against then-Governor George W. Bush in the race for the Republican nomination.  While the majority of the Religious Right leaders rallied to Bush, Bauer struck out on his own, hoping to make a political killing with McCain … hopes that were dashed when McCain made his infamous “agents of intolerance” speech, which Bauer was involved in drafting and which he then made the rounds of the political talk shows defending.  

Following McCain’s defeat, Bauer was essentially persona non grata among the Religious Right leadership for years to come, though he eventually managed to work his way back into their good graces and was soon back in the press relishing his role as a Washington insider, rallying the troops, bashing Mike Huckabee, and even playing disinterested observer when it came to the very candidate he had previously endorsed.

That lasted only until Fred Thompson, his preferred candidate, dropped out – and suddenly Bauer finds himself back to where he was eight years ago:  standing virtually alone along-side John McCain:

U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign today announced that prominent pro-life and pro-family advocate Gary Bauer has endorsed John McCain for president.

“John McCain has dedicated his life to defending human rights around the world, including the rights of the unborn,” said Mr. Bauer. “I admire his consistent 24-year pro-life record and demonstrated commitment to the values that keep our families and communities strong. John McCain alone has the experience, character and credibility to lead as commander in chief on day one and defeat the transcendent threat of our time — radical Islamic extremism. I am proud to support John McCain for president.”

John McCain thanked Mr. Bauer for his support, stating, “I have long admired Gary’s commitment and passion for our shared pro-life and pro-family values. Gary has always been a forceful, unapologetic advocate for the sanctity of life and traditional marriage, judicial restraint and a strong American foreign policy based on our values. I am honored to have Gary Bauer’s support, and his advice and counsel will be critical as we continue to bring our Party together for victory in November.”

Bauer, for all of his “values” talk, is much more of a political operative than someone like James Dobson.  Back when Dobson and his cohorts were threatening to bolt the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani were named the nominee, Bauer was calculating the political costs, urging everyone to calm down and consider the implications for the GOP.  And now, just days after Dobson publicly repudiated McCain and cravenly endorsed Huckabee, out bounds Bauer to McCain’s side to vouch for McCain’s right-wing bona fides.  

Considering that the last time Bauer backed McCain, it caused a rift between himself and his professional colleagues on the Right that it took Bauer years to mend, one has to wonder what the ramifications will be this time around – especially since last time around Dobson wasn’t in the midst of a personal crusade to destroy McCain.  

But Bauer deserves credit for consistency, at least.  As he said of the fiasco after his last endorsement of McCain, “I think I made the right decision and if I had to do it over again, I’d do it again.”  And indeed he has … but only after all the other potential Republican candidates dropped out and it appears almost mathematically impossible for McCain to lose the nomination.