You ask, “are conservatives ever going to be excited about McCain? I think they could be excited about beating Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.”
This kind of thing really drives a LOT of us conservatives up the wall.
Some conservative “activists” and “pundits” etc. seem to forget that there is a spectrum of attitudes among conservatives about McCain. Yes, some hate him, others are cool to him, but there are not a few of us who are quite happy that he is the candidate and will support him with a certain amount of gusto.
I personally know a number of very serious, knowledgable, brilliant, deeply committed conservatives who see McCain as — on the whole — a good guy and worthy of support. Questions like the one you ask suggest that such people are not included under the term “conservatives”. I have been conservative all my life. I was a supporter of Goldwater at the age of 10, of Reagan in 1976, a reader of National Review since I could read. Now I see these freshfaced young activists on TV saying that “conservatives” don’t support McCain. I yell at the TV “speak for yourself, dammit.” Who appointed them to speak for ME? It is galling.
People speak of McCain sticking fingers in the eyes of conservtives (which he has all too often done done), but they themselves are also sticking fingers in the eyes of many of their fellow conservatives.
McCain gets a LOT of votes from self-indentified conservatives.