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Thursday, January 26, 2006

McCain in oughty-eight? 

John Hinderaker thinks John McCain might be the GOP's best bet the next time around:
Yesterday, I heard John McCain on Michael Medved's radio show. It was a reminder of how good McCain can be. And how conservative: the first caller said that McCain is regarded as a moderate Republican, and asked, what is the difference between a moderate Republican and a moderate Democrat? McCain responded, "Well, first of all, I'm a conservative. I have a lifetime rating of 82% from the American Conservative Union, and the only reason it isn't higher is because a lot of conservatives disagree with me on campaign finance reform. So, I'm a proud conservative."...

McCain's age is an issue, but not an insurmountable one if he comes across as mentally and physically vigorous in three years, as I'm pretty sure he will. We and other conservatives have parted company with McCain on several important issues, most notably taxes and regulation of political speech. But he will be a powerhouse Presidential candidate, and it may not take too much to win over conservative Republicans like me. Especially if the choice comes down to McCain or a Democrat like Hillary Clinton, whom I'm pretty sure McCain would trounce.

I dunno. I like McCain, but one gets the sense that enough high-powered snark can morph the candor schtick into unhinged freakin' rage. He's a sharp guy, but you have to worry that Hillary will peck away at him until he flies off the handle. Americans hate it when their presidential candidates lose their cool, even when it is understandable (remember Edmund Muskie's lasting contribution to campaign wisdom?). Hillary, though, having survived her own ordeal by fire, will be almost impossible rattle. In a Clinton-McCain faceoff, HRC will stand a better chance than McCain of scoring a knock-out in the debates.

The good news for Republicans is that they have a deep bench. McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Condoleezza Rice, and Sam Brownback all strike me as plausibly strong candidates, and definitely stronger than most Democrats. All are more appealing personalities than John Kerry, the favorite of Democrats the last time around. Heck, even Bill Frist and Jeb Bush are more appealing than John Kerry.

But the Democrats won't put up Kerry again -- there's too much resentment over 2004. From thirty months away, you have to think that Hillary is in the driver's seat with the establishment, notwithstanding her purported negatives in the general election, and the Gorebot and maybe Russ Feingold are going to battle it out for the activist wing of the party (Gorebot will win that fight because he will have the better organization). Kerry is a loser, Clark is a weirdo, and Lieberman would be unacceptable to the party's left even if Iraq were a prospering Jeffersonian democracy.

There will be a lot of water under the bridge between now and then, but right now it looks as though the Republicans have better presidential candidates, even if they do not otherwise have the better political hand.

5 Comments:

By Blogger viking kaj, at Thu Jan 26, 03:09:00 AM:

Given that there are many people out there between the Hudson and Marin who will never, ever vote for Hillary, the GOP's best strategy has to be be to get her nominated. If this happens it doesn't matter if they nominate a McCain, a goat, or even Cheney's corpse, because any of these three can beat Hillary in a general election.

Just my thoughts on this.  

By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Thu Jan 26, 09:22:00 AM:

I disagree with your assumption about Hillary. She has an anecdotal history of rages and tantrums. I think she can get baited into saying stupid things ("plantation," etc.) that she thinks are politically expediant. She may win the primary, but she'll be walking the balance beam the whole way, and will almost certainly say things that will be difficult for her to overcome in the general election.

I'm not a big McCain fan, but I think he could be a good president. It will be very interesting to see how the press responds. My guess is that once he actually represents Repubicans and can no longer be viewed as "maverick" they will cease fawning and turn on him like jackels. Or maybe he'll be the great uniter.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Thu Jan 26, 09:50:00 AM:

The only way Hillary, or any Democrat, wins is if the Republican vote gets divided -- i.e. there is a new Ross Perot type candidate. They can only garner a plurality given the security debate. No leading DP candidate can break through in the south, escept perhap Warner.

Warner from Virginia could be an important candidate for the DP. He would have a shot. The myopia of the DP re: the South is pretty problematic. Or some military guy who comes out of nowhere (i.e. not Clark).

But my money is on GOP candidate in 08.  

By Blogger Counter Trey, at Thu Jan 26, 02:36:00 PM:

Having survived her own ordeal by fire? I'm not sure what you are referring to other than being the first lady to the BJ president.

This woman has more skeletons to hide than John Wayne Gacy but no one has ever called her on any of it. She has gone unscathed because she was untouchable as the first lady, and then ran for office in New York where it was pointless to attack her with her past; just about any Democrat gets a free pass in NY.

But, on a national stage, all bets are off. The first thing she will have to answer for is the subpoenaed Castle Grande files that miraculously did not resurface until two days after the statute of limitations expired; odd that they were in her White House office for several years and she couldn’t find them in time. The center doesn’t like it when their president is a crook. The gloves will come off.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Jan 26, 07:45:00 PM:

I think that could be an ugly, ugly contest and McCain has an unstable side. I'm with TH on this one - he could easily be provoked. He has what we used to call 'anger management issues', and I suspect any matchup between him and Hillary would get down and dirty very fast.

Me, I'm rooting for the goat, though.  

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