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February 28, 2007

Early Exit For John McCain?

From Dick Morris. And Eileen McGann, who always co-writes these things, but I never mention her. Sexist of me. (Well, more popularist, since everyone knows Dick Morris and few know of Eileen McGann.)



Published on NewsMax.com on February 27, 2007.

The John McCain candidacy, launched amid much hope, fanfare, and high expectations, may be dying before our eyes.

Even worse, it may go out with a whimper instead of a bang.

It may not end in an Armageddon style primary defeat, but just dry up from lack of support, money, or interest.

Throughout all of 2006, McCain sat atop the polls right next to Rudy Giuliani. In the Fox News survey of December, 2006, he was getting 27 percent of the Republican primary vote to Rudy's 31 percent. But, after Giuliani announced that he was running, the Arizona senator fell to 24 percent while Rudy soared into the stratosphere at 41 percent of the primary voters. But even when McCain was polling well, he wasn't raising the money he needs for this campaign.

In the last quarter of 2006, during a time when he was tied for front-runner status in the GOP and doing well in general election matchups against likely Democratic rivals like Hillary Clinton, he raised only $1.7 million according to his filing with the Federal Elections Commission.

Even worse, he had less than $500,000 on hand, pocket change in a presidential race and barely adequate for a run for Congress.

Part of McCain's problem was that he wasn't raising money. But the other part has been that he is spending money too rapidly — and not on reaching voters but on paying political consultants. One top Republican operative from the old Reagan campaign commented, "McCain has hired every consultant he can find. He has all the top names, but no money."

What is McCain's problem?

Why did he go from the most exciting candidate in the race a year ago to the verge of oblivion today?

Fundamentally, he failed to heed the Shakespeare's admonition "to thine own self be true." The John McCain of the 2000 campaign is nowhere in evidence in 2007.

Instead of challenging the party establishment, he pathetically waits at its door, hoping to be invited. Where he used to challenge the religious right, he now panders to them. Once he led the battle against big tobacco, for corporate governance reform, in favor of campaign financing changes, and in support of action against global warming.

Now he has been identified with two issues, neither popular in the Republican Party: The Iraqi troop surge and amnesty for illegal aliens.

Rather than stake out an independent voic e apart from the Bush administration, he has become the last survivor at Custer's Last Stand in its support of its policies.

Republican strategist and Reagan campaign manager Ed Rollins makes an interesting point about McCain: He has switched roles. He has gone from being the McCain of the 2000 race, challenging the party orthodoxy, offering new ideas, and demanding reforms and changes to the Bush of the 2000, toeing the party line and only timidly venturing different ideas if he advances them at all. And this is no way to win the presidency or even the Republican nomination. But where it has counted, on the two core issues that move Republican voters these days — tax cuts and immigration — McCain is badly out of step with the GOP base.

I'm not sure Morris' (and McGann's) analsis is even close to correct -- while Republicans are pessimistic on Iraq, the main reason they are willing to give Giuliani a pass on the social issues is that they think he'll fight the War on Terror, including the War in Iraq, harder and more effectively than Bush -- but it is interesting to see that conventional wisdom now sniffs the stink of debacle on McCain.

Some people attribute this to McCain-Feingold. I think Instapundit pushes that angle. I doubt that myself -- "normal" people, largely disengaged about politics, really don't care about such inside-baseball stuff, I don't think.

I think it's just the cumulative effect of all these "maverick" positions, most of which are, frankly, liberal. McCain rarely offers a "maverick" position that discomfits his most enthusiastic supporters, the liberal media.

Give him one thing: He's been mostly solid on the War on Terror -- one thing that the MSM doesn't like -- but he undermines that by being overly solicitous of terrorists' rights.

70% of politics is gut, 20% is proxy issues, and 10% is actual positions. In our guts, we just don't trust him, nor consider him one of us (largely because he's been quite ostentatious about tell us he isn't one of us, and would rather not associate himself with us rabble). On proxy issues? Well, you take a bunch of issues where he keeps sticking his thumb in your eye and you read into that that he's pretty much opposed to you on most of the other issues as well.

And the 10% of his actual, stated positions? Means little, because people, properly, don't put much stock in a politician's claimed positions. He's pro-life? Well, whatever. So's Mitt Romney. George Bush seems to be, but he wasn't when he first ran for Congress, and he's not exactly a bear on the issue. Etc.

I think there are few in the upper eschelons of the political class -- being mostly of the bicoastal liberal blue state social culture, no matter what their stated politics or party affiliation -- who are truly pro-life as most take that to mean. (I think that conservatives should brace for disappointment on Roberts and/or Alito -- they're conservative, yes, but they're also married, I'm guessing, to blue-state type wives, and such women tend to be pro-choice no matter what their general politics. And yes, even thuggish, rape-crazy rightwing troglodytes actually listen to their wives.)

At any rate, McCain has some stated conservative stances which few of us believe he actually believes in, and a lot of stated liberal stances which most of us figure he strongly believes in.

I'll vote for McCain, if I must, and I encourage others to drop their "Anyone But McCain" position. The worst Republican is better than the best Democrat, especially this cycle, when the nutroots are forcing Democrats further to the left than they've been since 1972.

President McCain would appoint justices like Kennedy and even Souter to the Supreme Court. President Hillary! or, more likely, President Obama would appoint Ginsburgs and Stevens. That's an unpleasant choice, but ultimately an easy one to make.

Related: Hannity and Colmes, and Taranto and Powers, on pro-assassination Death Wish Democrats.

Taranto recounts the story of professor at a prestigious university telling him, at a party, back in 1993 that someone needed to "assassinate" Rudy Giuliani.

If he drives liberals that sort of batshit, pro-assassination crazy, he can't be that liberal, can he?

There was a Giuliani Derangement Syndrome in NYC through the nineties. That fact alone should be somewhat comforting to conservatives fearing his nomination.

He may not be your dream candidate -- and, as I've written lately, his stubborness in refusing to move further to the right has made him no longer my dream candidate, either -- but I think he'd be a good President. Half of a loaf is always better than no bread at all.

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posted by Ace at 03:33 PM

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