Sunday, April 22, 2007

McCain redux

I was just as surprised as Daniel Larison that George Allen failed in his reelection campaign for US Senator from Virginia, at least partially due to gaffes caught on YouTube. So maybe I'm not the one to ask either, but I'll commit a few words to pixels as well.

First of all, Daniel is quite correct that GOP primary voters oppose jihad, either Shiite or Sunni, and want to avoid appeasing it if at all possible. (This is pretty basic so far, but it seems to exasperate Daniel.) From here, Daniel reasons that the GOP primary will be a posturing contest over who can out-macho the next guy on the War on Terror, or Iran in particular.

On that score, I have to part company. Just because no one is in the market for Chuck Hagel-style anklebiting, doesn't mean the GOP base can be bought off like the AARP holding out for bigger COLAs for Social Security. The issue doesn't frame that way. Support for the War on Terror will be a plus for the candidate who can show the voters that he is tough and smart. Anything that sounds like bluster will be filtered out, unless it's too provocative, in which case it will work as a negative.

Btw, who are these voters who "think that Mr. Bush has generally done a bang-up job all around?" I don't know of any.

Back to McCain. It is true, I would guess, that those who support McCain do so because of his steadfastness on the War. But as far as getting the nomination goes (or even seriously threatening for it), I don't think it will help much. This race, especially with the presence of President Bush dominating the background, will come down to persons and personalities and who can rescue the value of Brand Republican from the bear market of the last two years.

John McCain is not the guy. He's too old, not necessarily chronologically, but whereas before he presented himself as mavericky, now he's just crotchety. And all his policy apostasies (campaign finance reform, immigration, etc.) might be forgiven except for this: he has spent the better part of a decade hating on mainstream conservatives, and they haven't forgotten.

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