Oh, Rick. You were supposed to be the lone holdout. All of those other far-right Republicans swallowed hard and endorsed John McCain, but not Rick Sa
April 21, 2008

Oh, Rick. You were supposed to be the lone holdout. All of those other far-right Republicans swallowed hard and endorsed John McCain, but not Rick Santorum. You wouldn't even consider it. No sirree bob.

You called the prospects of a McCain presidency "very dangerous." Just last month, even after McCain had wrapped up the nomination, you still said there was just no way you could support the guy. "The only one I wouldn't support is McCain," you said. You even said he lacked the "temperament and leadership ability to move the country in the right direction."

And today, those strong-willed principles suddenly mattered a little less.

Those conservatives who still question whether they can support McCain should remember this: The next president will make more than 2,700 political appointments, those who really set policy, across the bureaucracy of our government. I, for one, will sleep better at 3 a.m. if Republicans are in the cabinet and in White House positions that make so many critical decisions. The idea of "Attorney General John Edwards" and "Energy Secretary Al Gore" should cause some sleepless nights for Republicans or conservatives - and those in a U.S. manufacturing sector now struggling to stay afloat.

Here's my final argument for John McCain. He's not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

The GOP closes ranks. It always does.

Santorum concluded:

Many of my fellow Republicans have faulted me privately and publicly for being so outspoken about McCain, suggesting that I should have kept my mouth shut. First, I’ve never been very good at that. Second, I do not regret being up-front about such an important decision. Third, the primaries are a time when each party wrestles over what it’s looking for in a presidential candidate. Now is the time to come together.

As for the Reagan Axiom, given his opponent, McCain is close enough to 80 percent for government work. That is why I am going to vote for my friend — John McCain.

A month ago, McCain was too “dangerous” for Santorum to even consider. McCain had wrapped up the nomination, but Santorum wouldn’t budge. And now, it’s “time to come together” behind Santorum’s “friend.” How touching.

I mention this for a couple of reasons. First, it’s fun to tweak Santorum. Second, I argued months ago that the far-right voices who swore up and down they could never back McCain would end up backing McCain, and they have. I’m relieved they proved me right.

And finally, because it’s a reminder about what parties always do after a contested primary. McCain has enjoyed the luxury of time — he secured the GOP nomination while Dems continued to beat the crap out of each other, and got to work mending fences with his conservative critics. There are holdouts — James Dobson doesn’t seem to care about McCain’s overtures — but by and large, Santorum is following the predictable model.

The question I’ve been pondering, though, is whether the Democratic race will wrap up too late for the party to come back together again. Time will tell.

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