Kidnapped by Japan - How A Mother's Dying Wish Led To A Father's Unimaginable Loss

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Things Fall Apart - How McCain Can Still Lose The Republican Nomination

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Super Tuesday has come and gone and the smoke has cleared leaving the landscape clear, with only one man left standing with any chance, mathematically, of gaining the Republican nomination: John McCain.Mitt Romney has bowed to reality; and with his grace and good sense in doing so spared the Party a now pointless competition. Mike Huckabee, of course, is still in but his candidacy is now more clearly seen for what it has always been, a route to the vice-presidency, not the presidency. Oh yes, Ron Paul is still in as well, acting as he has from the start, as a sort of political poultice, drawing out the poisons (conspiracy theorists and other whackos) in the Party.

McCain is now the presumptive nominee, the establishment is lining up behind him and the Democrats have already crafted a playbook on how to handle him in the general election. The Straight-Talk Express has now reached critical mass. But maybe not.

In all likelihood McCain will be the Republican nominee, but in politics, as in life in general, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. And there are some troubling signs on the road ahead for the McCain candidacy. The Republicans start this election season off with a number of distinct disadvantages; attempting to follow an unpopular Republican president completing his second term; the memory of a corrupt, profligate Republican Congress that was swept from power only two short years ago, still fresh; a newly energized Democratic Party that is almost psychotic in its lust to get back into the Oval Office and, most damaging to the now apparent nominee, a candidate whom a large part of the Republican conservative base (and this is no exaggeration) loathes.

Due to the front-loading of this year’s primaries John McCain has wrapped up the nomination earlier than any other nominee in modern times. While this affords some opportunities, such as giving him time to assemble his general election policies and team, it also presents some possibly fatal difficulties as well. As stated earlier, the Democrats have more time to assemble their strategies for taking McCain apart and while McCain has always been the mainstream media’s favorite Republican, in a general election, against a Democrat the msm is going to go after him with the same vigor they do any Republican. And where a Republican would normally have the support of the so-called “alternative media” i.e. talk radio, the conservative blog-o-sphere etc., McCain’s years of treating the base with contempt has left it dispirited and frequently antagonistic to him.

Taking all of the above into consideration, the following scenario now becomes possible: With eight months to go before the Republican convention McCain, lacking an energized base and under constant assault in the press performs abysmally in national head-to-head polls with either of the two likely Democratic candidates and come September it is obvious that McCain is such a damaged and flawed candidate that it will be impossible for him to win the general election. The Party, in a desperate attempt to save themselves from a disaster of historic dimensions, does what it did when the writing was on the wall for Richard Nixon: they send a group of respected Republican emissaries to inform him that he must go. McCain, the bottom having dropped out of his campaign steps aside “for the good of my party and my country” and releases his delegates, thereby throwing the convention wide open.

Now this scenario is far more likely to occur if it becomes clear fairly soon that Barak Obama will be the Democratic nominee. Hillary Clinton is so flawed as a candidate herself that polling is likely to show a fairly close race between her and McCain. But if Obama becomes the presumptive nominee within the next month or two, the enthusiasm of the Democratic base coupled with a press-in-love with him promises to reveal poll after poll of a Republican Armageddon.

Should this scenario play out, who would inherit the Republican nod? Mitt, perhaps? Fred Thompson? Someone who hasn’t been in the field yet at all perhaps. That would certainly make for an exciting convention and perhaps even set up the possibility of a Republican win.

Is any of the above likely? Not terribly but in this unusual political season which has been filled with the unexpected, I wouldn’t rule anything out just yet.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

What To Make Of Mitt

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At its root, it may just have been a problem of geography. After going to Harvard, Mitt Romney decided to stay in Massachusetts, raise his family, and make his fortune. And so when he decided to enter politics, doing so anyplace other than Massachusetts probably would have seemed obvious and false. Maybe he really felt it was home. Whatever his reasons it was in this very liberal New England state that he took his first stab at politics, taking on a giant's task of trying to topple the liberal icon, Ted Kennedy. And he came closer than any other opponent in Kennedy's career.

And that race, which brought him to national political attention also planted the seeds that led to his failure in this year's presidential race. Because Massachusetts is so liberal Mitt ran as a moderate. He said he was one. He really made no bones about it. Maybe he was. Or maybe he was really more conservative and made "accommodations" in the interest of being in the running at all. Whatever the truth that run coupled with his later slow shifting to the right through the years left voter's believing that Mitt had an authenticity problem. He was hard to trust then as he announced for the Presidency in 2007 as a true-blue Reaganite. The lack of total conservative commitment through most of the race which was only recently (too late) to rally to his side doomed him.

But whatever questions conservatives had about him, Mitt Romney ran his presidential campaign like the true-blue Reaganite he now said he was and when you look at that effort, just ended today you'd have to say he ran it with style and maybe even with a good deal of sincerity. Having stepped aside at what must have been a hard time for him but the right time, Romney leaves with great good will and should he comport himself over the next four years with the kind of class he showed in this race he will probably have positioned himself to be not just a candidate with far greater conservative acceptance in 2012 (should McCain lose this year, as is highly likely) maybe he will enter that race as the candidate of choice for conservatives.

He is a man of great intelligence and many talents. He will bear watching.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Winter Of Our Discontent

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While the results of Super Tuesday were not conclusive in that they did not secure the Republican nomination with certainty for any one candidate the trend lines were drawn more strongly and what had before been a likelihood now inches closer to a certainty. Barring some major shift (and this primary season has been filled with them, so anything remains possible) in the first week of September the Republican party will nominate Senator John McCain as its candidate for president. It is hard to imagine a way he can win the general election.

McCain has spent a career antagonizing the Republican base and despite his walking away from Super Tuesday in the catbird's seat the numbers show the trouble to come. Only three in ten conservative votes on Super Tuesday went to McCain. Talk radio, reflecting the dissatisfaction that small percentage represents, spends much of its time lately in full-blown attack mode against the Senator. The number of total Republican voters is dwarfed by the total number of Democrats:

Total votes cast in 21 GOP contests yesterday among McCain, Romney and Huckabee:
McCain: 43.1% (3,611,459)Romney: 35.4% (2,961,834)Huckabee: 21.5% (1,796,729)
For grand totals, vastly more Democrats than Republicans voted yesterday;
Democratic votes for Clinton and Obama: 14,622,822 (63.6%)Republican votes for McCain, Romney and Huckabee: 8,370,022 (36.4%)
Put another way, the Clinton/Obama race drew 76% more voters than the McCain/Romney/Huckabee race.

None of the Republican candidates is exciting Republican voters, certainly not the way Barak Obama and even Hillary Clinton is exciting the Democrats. That fact coupled with McCain's poor showing among conservatives says much about what November will bring for the Party of Lincoln and Reagan.

What to do, then? After the Republican Congress broke faith with the American people, handing over the House and Senate to the Democrats, with the sad spectacle of this nominating process and the coming debacle conservatives are left with one reasonable course of action: We need an extensive period of self-examination and a revival of the kind of energy and devotion to ideas that made the Reagan Administration so dynamic. We need to elect men and women of principle, the kind of men and women who are disgusted with what the Republican Congress had become and to whom the thought of the Gerald Ford/Bob Michel version of republicanism is anathema.

We will spend our time wandering in the desert but if we stick to our principles the future may still be even brighter than the past. Just remember the Republican nominee who followed Gerald Ford was Ronald Reagan.

2012 isn't really that far off. Let's use the time contructively.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Brief Thoughts On A Long Night

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  • So McCain and Huckabee teamed up to take a win away from Romney in West Virginia? Apparently this sleazeball move is their idea of change. I'm sure voters everywhere will be lining up to vote for more. Is it 2012, yet?
  • Am I the only one who has noticed that Huckabee invariably says "conservative-ism" and not conservatism? Do you know any conservatives who say "conservative-ism"? If you're going to make believe that you are a conservative shouldn't you at least learn how conservatives actually refer to the philosophy they espouse? Maybe it is just me.
  • Tonight's guilty pleaure: Watching Obama whack Billary around, scaring the bejeebers out of them. The truth is, I think Obama would be tougher to beat in a general election than the Senator from NY and her hubby but still, watching their discomfort is nothing short of pure pleasure.


  • Apparently Romney is giving McCain a run for his money in McCain's home state of Arizona. I'm smiling. That doesn't make me a bad person, does it?
  • Jonah Goldberg over at The Corner is saying that he thinks McCain needs to make a major speech mollifying conservatives in order to get Rush, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin etc. on his side. I'm a big fan of Jonah's but if he thinks McCain giving a speech will make most conservatives roll over and play stupid, I think Jonah is just plain wrong.


  • Obama's loss of MA is somewhat disappointing, proving that an alcoholic, vehicularly-challenged, socialist Senator who has been in Washington for forty-plus years may not be the most credible person around to endorse a candidate based on the need for "change". Maybe if he had resigned first? (Sorry - just wishful thinking).
  • Of course Huckabee has no chance to get the Repbulican Presidential nomination (as he well knows) but his Vice-Presidential run seems to be going swimmingly tonight. How many out there are jumping up and down just thinking of the chance to vote for a McCain/Huckabee ticket? Yeah, me neither.
  • As the eveing wears on that satisfaction I felt earlier about Obama giving Clinton a really rotten evening seems to have been a bit premature. Oy.


  • Another frustrating night: Unpleasant trends move forward, yet nothing is settled.
  • Good night. Tomorrow it begins again.

Monday, February 4, 2008

John McCain: The Perfect Storm

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Tonight, while watching the evening news I saw something distlinctly surreal: There on the screen was Senator John McCain speaking to the press. He was explaining how he was going to unite conservatives behind him. Nodding in agreement and literally behind him was Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democratic John Kerry's running mate four years ago. Ironically Senator McCain had seriously considered being Kerry's running mate before political and other calculations made him reconsider, leaving the door open for Lieberman. This little scenario is emblematic of one of the reasons John McCain won't be President and why the Movement Conservatives are in almost full revolt at the very idea. Any Republican who could for even a moment entertain being the running mate for the ultra-liberal Kerry can't be a conservative.

But McCain's being widely known as liberals' favorite Republican and his long history of sticking his finger in the eyes of conservatives whenever it suits him (an action in which he always seems to take a smirking glee) are only two of three factors which with a third, his notoriusly thin skin and short fuse form a perfect storm of behaviour and character traits that cause him to be utterly undeserving of conservative support and likely to be a disaster as President should he somehow manage to win that most important of offices.

McCain has said more things that are and should be concerning to conservatives than almost any other Republican with the possible exceptions of former Republican Senators Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Jeffords. Just a sampling: According to the Boston Globe in April, 2004 and then confirmed by McCain himself two days later to Chris Mathews on Hardball, McCain declared, "I think the Democratic Party is a fine party, and I have no problem with it, their views and their philosphy."

In a January 2000 debate Senator McCain, sounding to all the world like he was lifting his lines from the Democratic talking points said, "“I have never engaged in class warfare. I am very much in favor of tax cuts for middle-income and lower-income Americans. I’m deeply concerned about a kind of class warfare that’s going on right now. It’s unfortunate. There’s a growing gap between the haves and have-nots in America, and that gap is growing, and it’s unfortunately divided up along ethnic lines. I feel very strongly that we ought to have middle-income and lower-income tax cuts, and we’ll be getting into it, I’m sure, later on in this program. Mine are basically comparable to Gov. Bush’s, in some cases far better. But I’m not sure we need to give two-thirds of that tax cut, of that money, to the wealthiest 10% of America.” Although he now says that he was one of only two Republicans to vote against the Bush Tax Cuts of 2001 because he was interested in having them accompanied by spending cuts, the above quote is representative of what he was actually saying at the time.

Although now denying he supports amnesty for illegal immigrants Senator McCrain the co-author of the Kennedy/McCain Immigration bill in a May 29, 2003 interview said, "Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens."

The mainstream media and Democrats have, of course loved this kind of talk and have helped to make Senator McCain a star. In their recent endorsement of him the New York Times said, "Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe." And why wouldn't they be thrilled with Senator McCain? He is their kind of Republican. And according to John Kerry, McCain almost became his kind of Democrat as can be seen in this interview with the liberal blog MyDD:

Jonathan Singer (of MyDD): There’s a story in The Hill, I think on Tuesday, by Bob Cusack on the front page of the paper talking about how John McCain’s people — John Weaver — had approached Tom Daschle and a New York Congressman, I don’t remember his name, about switching parties. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what your discussions were with him in 2004, how far it went, who approached whom… if there was any “there” there.
John Kerry: I don’t know all the details of it. I know that Tom, from a conversation with him, was in conversation with a number of Republicans back then. It doesn’t surprise me completely because his people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket as Vice President. So his people were active — let’s put it that way."

As if these disturbing points aren't enough, there is also the problem of McCain's temperment. According to, in a July 5, 2006 interview former Sen. Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican who served with McCain on the Senate Armed Services Committee said, "I have witnessed incidents where he has used profanity at colleagues and exploded at colleagues . . . He would disagree about something and then explode. It was incidents of irrational behavior. We've all had incidents where we have gotten angry, but I've never seen anyone act like that." But such stories are legion with Senator McCain. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ... said in a recent interview that he was so upset by a McCain tirade that he didn't speak to him "for a couple of years." McCain got in his face and shouted an obscenity at him. Senator Thad Cochran R - Miss. gave the following as the reason he was supporting Mitt Romney over McCain in the current race, "The thought of him being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Cochran said. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

Some have suggested that McCain's often irrational temper is an after-effect of his five long years as a Vietnamese prisoner of war but such seems not to be the case as his military records indicate his temper was a problem before his captivity. Perhaps that very temper is one of the reasons he was able to survive captivity. In that situation, maybe unbridled rage was the difference between life and death. The Washington political environment may often be compared to war but it seems to me that rage is not one of the best weapons a President needs in his arsenal.

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday after which, all Senator McCain's media friends (and Senator McCain) are telling us, he will become the presumptive nominee. They may be right. If so, the Republican Party may soon come to regret their decision. Oh, and as for all Mr. McCain's "friends" in the media and the Democratic Party, I think he will soon see that after they've helped secure his nomination they'll turn around and treat him will all the disdain they always treat Republicans. He may be their favorite Repbulican but any Republican, even one as eager to please as Senator McCain will be thrown overboard in a heartbeat when the choice is between him and a real Democrat.

For a conservative, John McCain, Republican standard bearer is the bitterest of pills. The only question that may remain after November of this year is, "How do we pick up the pieces?"