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By Geoff Metcalf

May 27, 2007

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does NOT mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country." --Theodore Roosevelt

I used the above quote at least eight times in columns during the two terms of Bill Clinton�s presidency. The mere fact it is now appropriate to criticize the current administration speaks to the non partisan reality of the concept.

Recently, Peggy Noonan finally acknowledged the elephant in the living room in her column �Too Bad/President Bush has torn the conservative coalition asunder�.

Her central point is the same as the quote from Teddy Roosevelt. She notes that despite the finger pointing and name calling coming from the White House, �What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them.� Conservative critics of the administration are not naughty children disrespecting their elders. Rather, the administration, saturated in arrogance, has flipped off their most loyal and devoted supporters.

Principles matter. The lesser of available evils inevitably results in evil. Evil �lite� is still evil. Peggy observes, �The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they �don't want to do what's right for America.� His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, �We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up.�� She is right on point. Graham and the president are blowing off �them what brought them to the party��and there are consequences to that.

Noonan might argue Ronald Reagan was the gold standard for conservatives, and many would agree with her. However, although Reagan was way better than Bush, he wasn�t perfect. Reagan gave us Rex84 and an abysmal illegal amnesty. Even Saint Ronald sinned.

Noonan belatedly acknowledged, �What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom.� I think she is half right. Certainly �wisdom� has been eschewed in favor of an imperial arrogance. However, more significant is the absence of principles and commitment to principles. The problem is exacerbated by the White House insistence that they are right and everyone else is wrong�despite overwhelming empirical evidence the reverse is true.

Noonan is right that �The White House doesn�t need its traditional supporters anymore,� but the GOP sure does. White House insistence of defending the indefensible on spending, taxes, and immigration is devastating GOP presidential dreams.

Eventually, sooner rather than later, �someone� in the �08 parade is going to have to break ranks and be honest. Ron Paul already has, and his reward (beyond some nice but ignored poll results) is to have been marginalized, tarred and feathered.

Noonan noted, �Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them.�

The current crop of supposed GOP frontrunners remains a collection of lesser evils.

If (and it�s a big �if�) we accept the white knight is a synthesis of Ron Paul and Ronald Reagan, that candidate isn�t on the field yet. Rudy, McCain and Romney are all RINOs of various stripes. Fred Thompson is touted as a probable dark horse white knight, but he has baggage too.

Noonan rips both Bushes as �great wasters of political inheritance.� She said, �They throw it away as if they'd earned it and could do with it what they liked.��and she is (sadly) right.

I have come to accept incrementalism as a necessary reality. The republic has been eviscerated over time by chronic liberal incrementalism. It is politically impossible to restore the republic to a pre 1913 or pre 1865 condition with the flick of a light switch. Critics will quickly attack me for endorsing �evil-lite� and they will be right. However, the incremental objectives should be to get evil-lite lighter and lighter.

Principles matter. Step one for any candidate should be �what are my principles� and then to support and defend those principles.

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I don�t see anything near that with ANY of the candidates on either side of the partisan divide. Hillary, Rudy, Edwards, Romney et al seem intent on �saying� whatever the focus groups �tell� them the electorate wants to hear. Getting elected is the primary objective�once elected they can do as they want. Hey, it worked for Clinton and for both Bushes.

� 2007 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's

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Noonan is right that �The White House doesn�t need its traditional supporters anymore,� but the GOP sure does.