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Sad, But True

I missed out on the 2000-vintage McCain infatuation, but caught a bit of McCain fervor sometime during (I think) early spring 2004 when he struck me as not an ideal politician, but perhaps the Last Best Hope for bringing fantasy-based conservatism à la Bush to heel. As Shakespear's Sister notes today those hopes are looking mighty misplaced at the moment. The story all began with the pre-convention Bush-McCain reconciliation. Evidently, he thinks he has some kind of shot at securing the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 as long as he plays good soldier between now and then.

March 23, 2005 | Permalink


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If McCain actually thinks this, he's a fool. The Bush clan does not reward those who cross them. Ever. And, barring odd circumstances like the economy collapsing, Bush's sponsorship will be necessary to whoever wants the '08 nomination.

Have you ever seen the freepers talking about McCain? He's almost in the Hillary catagory to them.

Posted by: El Kabong | Mar 23, 2005 6:06:10 PM

Didn't Bush say recently that he has a dog who rolls over but not every time and he's thinking of renaming him 'McCain'? Where did I see it? I thought it was funny.

Posted by: abb1 | Mar 23, 2005 6:22:54 PM

abb1, i actually hope that's true: let us know if you find a solid cite.

i have no clue what is going to drive the '08 republican nomination (i keep thinking the honest conservatives are going to fight for their party, and i keep seeing them turn dishonest instead, so what do i know?), but i'm pretty sure that mccain's only chance is to clean up the mess after bush, not to extend his reign, so i don't follow what he thinks he gains by buddying up so much.

which suggests, of course, that it's the real him that's buddying up to bush, not a political calculation....

Posted by: howard | Mar 23, 2005 6:33:21 PM

I have never felt at ease while watching or listening to McCain. He may be an independent thinker, but the man never does anything for progressivism on the material level unless he loses the nomination (finance reform). Moderate or not, he does not hit the spot. McCain in 08' is a concern. A real concern. On one level, I almost hope the GOP candidates are neo-cons to alienate more voters.

Posted by: Michael Schreiber | Mar 23, 2005 6:41:58 PM

"Evidently, he thinks he has some kind of shot at securing the GOP presidential nomination in 2008"

If McCain runs, and that's a big "if" considering his age, he'll be the 800 lb gorilla in the nomination field, and he'll be hard for anyone to beat.

Otherwise, we're looking at Romney-mania.

Don't forget that the anointed candidate always wins the GOP nomination.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 23, 2005 6:52:59 PM

McCain seems to be laboring under the misapprehension that he's been adopted into the Bush dynasty. Aw, who knows? I think even the American public would be a little incredulous about electing another Bush- not because they might dislike him, but rather because it's a little hard to play "regular guy" when your dad and brother were also president. (ew, I need to wash out my soul from typing that.)

Posted by: TJ | Mar 23, 2005 6:53:05 PM

Howard, here, in this Dowd column. Solid, the paper of record.

Posted by: abb1 | Mar 23, 2005 6:54:48 PM

To get the GOP nomination, McCain will still have to face the forces of fundamentalism in the Southern primaries, W. or no W.

Posted by: JDC | Mar 23, 2005 8:23:54 PM

I think the issue is that Bush can hurt McCain more than McCain can hurt Bush.

Posted by: fling93 | Mar 23, 2005 8:31:22 PM

McCain is toast. The rightie hacks have propagandized their flock with the image of him as an opportunistic weirdo and God knows what else. A family member of mine who listens to AM radio and knows little about politics get this knowing attitude when he is mentioned.

His only hope,if he somehow managed to get nominated, was a coalition of independents and moderate liberals. Not gonna happen now. I hope there's video of that quote.

He had the opportunity to jump last year. He should have had at least the political clarity to leave the party, become an independent. Who knows, maybe between now and 2007 his party will achieve some cosmically hypothetical degree of filth, and he'll have an opening to say the party left him. Not likely, though. Nobody can one-up 2000 McCainiacs in Bush hatred. I'm one of them, and I couldn't vote for the guy in a two-way race between him and Cheney.

Posted by: Sean Flaherty | Mar 23, 2005 8:42:37 PM

> McCain seems to be laboring under the misapprehension
> that he's been adopted into the Bush dynasty.

Yes, that baffles me. For all his political faults the guys seems to be reasonably smart, and his life experience makes W look like a child. Well, that's not hard but you know what I mean.

So why does he think he is part of the House of Bush? What is with the hugging, literal and figurative? He must know that he is considered cheap hired help by the Bushes.


Posted by: Cranky Observer | Mar 23, 2005 8:44:01 PM

"McCain is toast. The rightie hacks have propagandized their flock with the image of him as an opportunistic weirdo and God knows what else."

While McCain is obviously not the first choice of the Republican base, he's not nearly as objectionable to them as many here assume. In terms of the 2004 Democrats, he's Kerry, not Lieberman.

McCain is not going to run unless he's the anointed candidate of the GOP machine. But if he does run as the anointed candidate, he's much more likely than not to be able to overcome some grumbling from the base.

It's been 41 years since the GOP didn't nominate the anointed candidate, and the machine Rove and Bush have built is stronger than the normal GOP establishment machine. That machine is going to pick the nominee, not Rush Limbaugh.

If McCain doesn't run, as I mentioned above, it's a done deal for Romney.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 23, 2005 9:10:05 PM

> not the first choice of the Republican base,
> he's not nearly as objectionable to them as
> many here assume.

Regardless of what the Republican base (whatever that may be) may think, they are currently doing the bidding of the House of Bush (with perhaps a little input from Mullah Spongedob Stickypants), not the other way around. Some member of the Bush clan will make the decision (Barbara? I wonder who the real boss is), not the base nor McCain.


Posted by: Cranky Observer | Mar 23, 2005 9:29:04 PM

"some member of the Bush clan will make the decision"

The mafia bosses are Bush, Rove, and McKinnon.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 23, 2005 9:32:50 PM

Why the heck would anybody think McCain has a real shot at the Republican nomination? He was only competative in 2000 with Democratic crossover votes, and augered in as soon as he hit states with closed primaries and caucuses. If anything he's even more unpopular with the Republican base today, than he was then. A contested Democratic nomination in 2008 means no crossover vote mischief, which means that McCain goes nowhere. He won't even start out looking strong.

In short, you've got to stop measuring the prospects of Repubublican candidates by how popular they are with Democrats.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Mar 23, 2005 9:47:47 PM

Otherwise, we're looking at Romney-mania.

Petey: your usual spot-on analysis has gone awry here.

Romney faces insurmountable obstacles among conservative voters, and among conservative campaign donors (I'm thinking of the "A" word). Plus, as likeable and as telegenic as he may be, he'll have at best an extraordinarily mediocre record to run on in terms of his governorship (like, he's accomplished exactly nothing, and Massachusetts's economy is, like, in relatively rough shape. We Bay Staters can proudly proclaim we're denizens of the only one of the 50 to have lost population since 2000).

Plus, Mitt has zero foreign policy experience. Hillary would have him for lunch on defense cred alone.

Plus he's a Mormon (sorry, but, that can't help him in Dixie).

Romney gets increasing press because the media loves the idea of the GOP being taken back from the right. Plus he is out of central casting for "articulate and impressive-looking rich pol with a nice family". Plus, he's from the most liberal state in the country, so, it gives the idea of Romney heading the GOP ticket a certain ironic appeal to media people who need an angle to spin interesting stories. But believe me, there's no "there" there.

Mitt's definitely a dog that don't hunt.

I also, by the bye, am largely in agreement that Senator McCain faces long odds of getting the nomination. His heresy over free speech, and his general reputation among the right for untrustworthiness makes his a very uphill battle indeed outside of the blue states. (though all bets are off should a serious, new foreign policy crisis materialize in late '07 or early '08).

Posted by: P.B. Almeida | Mar 23, 2005 10:00:45 PM

> The mafia bosses are Bush, Rove, and McKinnon.

You seem quite confident, and my knowledge of Republican clan-groups is far from complete, so perhaps I am totally off-base.

But I think Rove is actually hired help. He may or may not know it, but it doesn't matter. The Bush Clan and their ultra-high-dollar, East Coast old money associates are running the show. W may even think he is in charge, but Cheney and many others owe their allegience to the Carlyle Group, not to W himself.

In the end W will go quietly, either back to the ranch or to a job at said firm. Rove however will be kicked out at some point, which will be amusing.


Posted by: Cranky Observer | Mar 23, 2005 10:02:50 PM

McCain has definitely sold his soul to Bush in order to advance his 2008 aims. For more, see:

"McCain's Deal with the Devil"

Posted by: Jon | Mar 23, 2005 10:04:33 PM

> makes his a very uphill battle indeed outside
> of the blue states.

But has there really been a "battle" for the Repub nomination since Ford v Regean? The nominee is usually picked in advance.


Posted by: Cranky Observer | Mar 23, 2005 10:05:07 PM

McCain, like Biden, is a wanker. I keep trying to tell people...

Posted by: Atrios | Mar 23, 2005 10:18:27 PM

So, PB, who do you think it will be?

I'm having a hard time finding someone who meets the two tests: both wings of the Rep party require not only positional alignment (you have to agree with base positions on taxes and "life") but actual Tribal membership. Seriously born again scions of wealth are just not that common. Neither can accept a member of the other Tribe, even if he/she agrees with them, because the risk of betrayal, when it comes down to it, is just too great.

And I think we'll see in both tribes a real need for strong commitment in 08: the teaching of evolution will not have been banned nationally (although surely if there is a Rapture, children taught godless science will be 'left behind') nor Roe/Casey overturned. On the econ side, the pressure to raise taxes on upper income folks will build and build, as the bills for the wars, and drug benefits, come due.

Of course, I hope the nominee is a member of only one tribe, giving members of the other plenty of reason to stay home on election day . . .

Posted by: CharleyCarp | Mar 23, 2005 11:11:48 PM

I am of 2 minds here.

My first instinct is that there's no chance McCain get's the machine/family's blessing. Not after the effort and tactics expended to defeat McCain in 2000 (or, for that matter, by McCain in return), not after McCain's off-the-reservationism over the past 4 years, not in as much as McCain is believed to be beholden to the East Coast ,Beltway CW press and meddling Democrats, and not to whatever degree Rove thinks ChriCon mobilization is paramount to victory. McCain just isn't of the Bushist tribe, has never been, made is totally clear in 2000, and whatever that's happened since has been only a response to their mutual dislike of the Democratic Party. If given a choice, and the choice of course is theirs, it's hard to imagine the machine willingly going along with McCain.

But, part of me remembers just how willing the administration has been to changing tack in the past when things got dicey. If they sense that Hillary or whichever Democrat is leading for the nomination has a good chance of winning, that Bush's time in office will be punctuated by the opposing party winning, that he and Rove's effort will not have survived the first post-GWB election, I have no doubt they'd anoint McCain if Rudy, Condi, Dick, Dr. V.H.S. Catkiller, and Governor X didn't appear to have the chops to win.

Then I remember what Bush was recorded as saying about Steve Forbes and think that their letting McCain fume and Frist twist in the wind wouldn't be the worst move Bush ever made, even in terms of his desire for a legacy.

Posted by: SamAm | Mar 23, 2005 11:42:37 PM

Anyone remember "Rogue State Rollback"?

I was hoping it would become a syndicated series featuring McCain himself, and a burly but nimble team of gay assasins and mercenaries in an aging but sturdy fleet of Hueys in search of dictators, dames (and or dudes, as it were), and danger. It would be directed by Quentin ("okay, dude, McCain, like what do you think about having Tina Yothers as your sidekick...she was a genius, no?") Tarantino, and produced by a new alliance between Jerry Bruckheimer, Sherwood Schwartz, and the ghost of Vic Tayback (to be channeled to LaToya Jackson).

Posted by: Robin the Hoodlum | Mar 23, 2005 11:47:19 PM

And while we're at it, please, Nephi, bless Mitt! 2008 with victory in the primaries. After all that's happened in the past 11 years, you owe us big time.

Posted by: SamAm | Mar 23, 2005 11:49:13 PM

I don't see how Rove or any of the 'bosses' would find McCain more controllable than, say, Frist. I hear that Romney is going to have trouble being re-elected, so that's another nail in his coffin. He's pretty smarmy anyway.

If it were a real nomination process (and I'm not sure if it is or isn't re: Petey) a true blue conservative like Brownback could be a player. Kasich wants to be President, he can fake the youthfulness thing. Heard Haley Barbour wants to get in the race. (if it weren't a real nomination, would Barbour even say such a thing?)

Other than McCain, they're in trouble. Without a roaring economy, they're in trouble. Better invade another country in '07. Dangerous world out there, don't you know.

Posted by: Buford P. Stinkleberry | Mar 23, 2005 11:50:36 PM

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