Some rational conservatives see Obama's real potential

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I think I finally get it -- why columnist David Limbaugh and radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh have engaged so long and vehemently against Barack Obama with such off-the-wall comments (calling Obama's supporters "Stalinesque") that resemble the old spaghetti-against-the-wall method.

What is that? If you throw enough stuff, some of it will stick.

The Limbaughs didn't like their standard-bearer, John McCain, because he did not toe their sacrosanct conservative lines. Yes, I know that each endorsed McCain, but you don't have to read far between the lines to hear the reluctance.

You know what is truly refreshing to me? Douglas W. Kmiec, professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University, an academic with conservative credentials to die for (two stints in the Reagan White House) and a respected Catholic academician, looked at the candidates. In a show of political courage he endorsed Obama for president, saying March 25 in Slate magazine:

"I believe him to be a person of integrity, intelligence and goodwill. ... I do have confidence that the senator will cast his net widely in search of men and women of diverse, open-minded views and of superior intellectual qualities to assist him in the wide range of responsibilities that he must superintend."

In his endorsement, Kmiec looked critically at President Bush's involvement in Iraq, saying, also in Slate:

"Our president has involved our nation in a military engagement without sufficient justification or clear objective. In so doing, he has incurred both tragic loss of life and extraordinary debt, jeopardizing the economy and the well-being of the average American citizen."

So you understand this is not a wild-eyed liberal proclaiming this, I can speak from experience. I knew professor Kmiec when he taught at the University of Notre Dame Law School and was head of the Thomas J. White Center on Policy, a conservative group.

Thanks to Kmiec's connections, I had the opportunity to hear people like William Bennett and Henry Hyde. While I may not always have agreed with these speakers, the one constant I found in Kmiec's class was a profound respect for opposing opinions.

Kmiec's views were not threatened by me or others' questioning. That debate sharpened his view, as it did mine.

If a man of such academic excellence, who has shown his abilities countless times in public and on television ("Nightline," "Meet the Press" and others) can see that Obama represents a chance for the better for this country, maybe it is time the Limbaughs did a self-assessment and see if perhaps their egos are speaking on this year's election instead of their self-proclaimed message on what is best for the country.

Michael H. Maguire of Cape Girardeau is a lawyer.

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