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November 15, 2005

Comments

"Yes, he'll be really old in 2008, but as the saying goes, with today's technology, 72 is the new 62."

Ronald Reagan:

On February 6, 1911, Ronald Wilson Reagan was born to Nelle and John Reagan in Tampico, Illinois.
Thus: when sworn in again in 1984, he was 72.

Of course, many considered that he was senile and Alzheimer's afflicted in his second term, and some feel that that applies to his first as well. So, FWIW.

(My mention of these facts constitutes endorsements neither of McCain or Reagan nor of Presidents with Alzheimer's.)

No serious person thinks McCain, Guiliani, Powell, or Rice has any shot at the Republican nomination. McCain still has his illegitimate black baby (nee adopted Bangladeshi daughter). Guiliani lived with a gay couple, IIRC, after getting kicked out of the house by Donna. Powell - black and insufficiently conservative. Rice - black, female, unmarried, and insufficiently conservative. Hell, Hagel couldn't get the GOP's nomination - too sane.

People spinning these fantasies are either naive or intending to obfuscate the nature of the GOP's base for wider consumption.

Err...s/b Giuliani. I think.

He gets some credit for recently standing up and defending himself against the "Bush lied" charges by elected Democrats

i don't see how lying about how he lied is much of a defense.

If McCain is somehow able to secure the nomination he would have a very good chance at winning. (Un)fortunately, I don't see it happening.

To get the nomination would mean the the religious radical wing of the Republicans party would have to decide that it needed to go back into the closet for a Republican to win. Can you really see Dobson and Robertson lining up behind McCain?

If they don't, can you really see McCain or any other Republican winning? They might make it through the primary, but without some sort of send-all-gays-to-prision item on the ballot they won't come out as they did in 2004.

Nindid: If McCain is somehow able to secure the nomination he would have a very good chance at winning. (Un)fortunately, I don't see it happening.

To get the nomination would mean the the religious radical wing of the Republicans party would have to decide that it needed to go back into the closet for a Republican to win. Can you really see Dobson and Robertson lining up behind McCain?

I agree with the second paragraph, but I think it contradicts the first. If the radical right isn't mobilized in '08 or peels off to support an independent candidate, the Republican candidate is toast, no? That is, assuming the Democrats don't completely implode (crosses fingers).

And, after Harriet Miers, I'm thinking the radical right isn't going back into any closet quietly.

i wouldn't like to run against McCain. the chicks think he's cute, plus he comes across as a very reasonable guy.

i wonder who Rove is going to end up working for in 2008...

The President can push back against allegations of untruthfulness all he wants, if that's what it takes to rally his base, but it would be better if he pushed back with some convincing facts rather than more hollow rhetoric. From the NYTimes today:

To avoid having to account for his administration's misleading statements before the war with Iraq, President Bush has tried denial, saying he did not skew the intelligence. He's tried to share the blame, claiming that Congress had the same intelligence he had, as well as President Bill Clinton. He's tried to pass the buck and blame the C.I.A. Lately, he's gone on the attack, accusing Democrats in Congress of aiding the terrorists.

Yesterday in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today.

It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true.


I am concerned about McCain's age, especially since I am not totally secure with his health.

He would likely (but not certainly) face Social Conservative opposition in the primaries, but I do think he would get average support in the general. He would appoint an acceptable Justice, which by that time might not be necessary, but would be insurance.

I actually hope Tacitus gets his will, and Brownback gets the nomination. Terrifying. Could win all 50 states, with huge coattails.

No serious person thinks McCain, Guiliani, Powell, or Rice has any shot at the Republican nomination.

I disagree (though whether I qualify as a "serious" person is open to question). The others, no. But McCain definitely has a shot. A long shot, I admit, but a shot based on the number of nominal Republicans who are now seeking a way to save face without actually confronting the fact that they were responsible for turning the US into an authoritarian kleptocracy.

That's what McCain will provide if he knows what's good for him. As the incredible depth and breadth of the GOP catastrophe enters the mainstream, many Republicans will a) focus with awesome single-mindedness on the necessity of moving forward instead of dwelling on the past and b) embrace with fervor the few remaining high-profile Republicans who aren't obviously corrupt.

So no, the GOP "establishment" would not be happy about it; the theocrats and racists would not be happy about it; Wall Street would be ambivalent... it might even split the GOP. But McCain offers a way out for people who are suddenly realizing that they are being taken for a ride by a bunch of con artists and are too embarassed to admit it.

There are too many of those people for McCain not to have any shot at the gold ring. And frankly, that suits me fine because I am now worried enough about an American Hitler that I want the executive branch weakened more than I want just about anything else. Bush didn't qualify, and I suspect that McCain doesn't either, but the sociopolitical context is making me pretty damn nervous...


McCain's second big weakness is that he was such a staunch campaign buddy for Bush in 04.

If Bush's approval ratings are in the teens by 2008, it won't help McCain if 2004 footage shows up all over the place.

Can you really see Dobson and Robertson lining up behind McCain?

Their influence is on the wane, especially Robertson's. Also, McCain is solidly pro-life, which should appeal to religious conservatives. The thing we should look for in McCain is whether he's tempered his temper. Sure, low politics helped do him in in 2000, but his short fuse was also a contributing factor.

Charles writes: "Their influence is on the wane, especially Robertson's. "

Huh?

Charles, Did or Did Not the White House seek Dobson's blessing on Miers?

That's not what you do when someone's influence is on the wane.

I wonder if McCain, Like Bush, will get a complete free pass on abortion issues. It never ceases to amaze me how Bush manages to convince his pro-life base that he is actually actively pro-life.

He, like msot Republicans, has managed to have the best of both worlds for 5 years now, running a de-facto pro-choice administration, (mostly: there was the recent FDA fumble of the "abortion pill") while claiming to be pro-life. If he had any sort of consistency, he would put his action where his rhetoric is and go ahead and piss off most of the women in America by working harder to overturn Roe. I say he should do it, too, same as any Republican -- and same as any Democrat. Republicans get a free pass in their states while being defacto-pro choicers, while Democrats get none of the benefits of upholding a poorly supported law.

McCain will be as gutless as Bush on this issue -- that is, he will be a moderate while proclaiming himself conservative. The far right is mostly talk anyway, hate-talk; and they will eat it up as always. Or, they will get as ugly as their rhetoric and maybe, just maybe, prove how completely politically motivated all of their "moral" and "religious" teachings are, and alienate a few questioning or fair-minded Americans. But don't hold your breath. They will always be able to baselessly shame Americans by claiming to know what is morally right, by which they mean paternalistic, ignorant and abusive.

Charles:

I'm not a biologist, and I admit that children go through dramatic changes as they age, but I'm pretty sure McCain's daughter isn't going to get any whiter.

Look, I was as big a McCain fan as you could be back in 2000. He would have wiped Gore off the map. But he didn't get the nomination, and the religious "right" is why. Remember his comments about the mullahs?

The Pharisee wing -- sorry, "social conservatives" -- hate McCain. And they are the base of the GOP now.

"but I'm pretty sure McCain's daughter isn't going to get any whiter."

Why not? Michael Jackson did.

I would love to see McCain get the Republican nomination. I think it has limited downside, and a lot of upside:

1) McCain wins the presidency. Now, I'm under no illusion that McCain is any sort of moderate. He's staunchly conservative. However, he also has principles, and, as liberal as I am, this country could very much use a principled party of the right.

2) He wins the nomination, and loses the general election because the religious right stays home or votes independent. While this won't produce the principled party of the right that I'd prefer to see, I think that it would badly fracture the unprincipled GOP that we now have. I can live with that

3) He loses the general election because he has to pander to the religious right. This makes him less principled, but also shows that the moderates have reached their limit.

The only down one is:

4) He wins the general election by quietly pandering to the religious conservatives, moderates don't catch on, and he then governs a lot like Bush. This would be bad, but I also consider it the least likely scenario.

Well, I'm idly (def.: uselessly) curious about something, Charles.

You have pointed out where Bush is right. You have pointed out where McCain is right.

I deduce from this that you believe yourself to be right about the issues they are wrong, and right, about.

Why not just cut out the middlemen and run for President yourself?

I'm not really being snarky. It's just that I consider myself completely wrong on about half of everything and the stuff I'm right about I'm only partly right about.

This is a little like the time I asked you how you can tell so inerrantly how some reporting in the New York Times is biased and some is not.

What is the benchmark?

You may very well be right about everything and every issue. In which case you have my vote.

I can just never figure out how the people who are right about everything never run for elected office. It's only the ones who are partly right who get elected.

McCain would be a formidable general election candidate, but I have to agree with SCMTim: I strongly doubt he'll get the nomination. Too many other people will be running for the GOP nomination and all of them will have a vested interest in taking down McCain, who has been shown to be take-downable. Also, mentioning McCain on FreeRepublic gets the same response as mentioning Lieberman on DailyKos. That will be a hard habit for many of those folks to break.

"This would be bad, but I also consider it the least likely scenario."

I consider it the most likely scenario. I said the other day the liberals gave to begin the project of destroying John McCain now, and this is the reason why.

The anti-torture amendment is completely phony, and always was. The minute an opportunity to effectively nullify it, McCain jumped on board. He simply wanted a grandstanding appearance of being against torture. He would govern precisly like Bush, except worse.

Charles, Did or Did Not the White House seek Dobson's blessing on Miers?

Yep, and look how much good it did Bush, Jon.

I'm not a biologist, and I admit that children go through dramatic changes as they age, but I'm pretty sure McCain's daughter isn't going to get any whiter.

If you're trying to say that the delegates who will decide McCain's fate are too racist to nominate him, don't go there, SCMT.

Everyone here seems to think that McCain will have trouble winning the nomination, but I disagree. Current polls put him and Giuliani in the lead as frontrunners. McCain is clearly more conservative than the Mayor, and McCain will likely sweep the opening primaries leaving the others begging for cash. He will win Iowa, N.H., and South Carolina. McCain lost it all in S.C. last time and has learned his lesson. Also, his allies (Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Sanford) are now the GOP leaders of the state where they weren't in 2000. Only a strong surge from an unknown social conservative will make it difficult for him, but McCain can blunt this attack by making behind-the-scenes assurances to those social conservative leaders he needs to keep quiet by giving them the V.P. slot. Also, the most important things for conservatives are the war, spending and judicial nominations, all of which McCain has an excellent record of conservative positions. However, I think the Dems will actually do something clever for once and nominate a moderate like Mark Warner, which will cause the electoral map to be pretty different. The Dems might get VA, AR and FL, but McCain could pick up his big neighbor California and Bush's lost cause of Pennsylvania along with some smaller states like Maine for the win.

John McCain? You must be kidding? He has absolutely no chance of getting the nomination. McCain is not a conservative; populist at best. He will not get the support of the base. I'll take Dubya over McCain anyday of the week.

I deduce from this that you believe yourself to be right about the issues they are wrong, and right, about.

Heck, and here I was thinking that anyone who holds positions on issues thinks they're right about their positions. I don't have the winning charismatic personality that politicians have, John.

"Their influence is on the wane, especially Robertson's.

OTOH, Ward Churchill is still at large!!

You know, if the Administration still had confidence in the Iraq adventure, the President wouldn't be "pushing back." He wouldn't be trying to justify the war by saying the Democrats wanted it, too. No sir, he'd be taking--he'd want to take--all the credit he could for his own grand dreams. That the President seems to want to spread the blame for Iraq as widely as possible these days says a lot.

"Everyone here seems to think that McCain will have trouble winning the nomination, but I disagree. Current polls put him and Giuliani in the lead as frontrunners."

While McCain and Guiliani are the front-runners with respect to current support, McCain has far more Republicans saying they would never vote for him. positives and negatives of potential candidates polled

If, as seems likely to me, the 2007 winnowing process reduces the serious potential nominees to Guiliani, McCain and a social conservative to be named later (George Allen? Brownback? Santorum if he survives next year's Senate race?), as Guiliani's socially liberal stands become more well-known to the rank and file, I think it will be a romp for the social conservative, with early wins in Iowa and South Carolina making New Hampshire irrelevant (again).

"If you're trying to say that the delegates who will decide McCain's fate are too racist to nominate him, don't go there, SCMT."

Charles, what would you say were the reasons that McCain lost the South Carolina primary?

Current polls put him and Giuliani in the lead as frontrunners.

And at this stage of the campaign, that corresponds precisely to name recognition and very little else.

"Heck, and here I was thinking that anyone who holds positions on issues thinks they're right about their positions."

I'm pretty tentative about many of my opinions, actually, and mildly tentative about the rest. I'm pretty sure of a few, but not to the point of surety.

At least, I think that's the case; I can't be entirely sure, you know.

George Allen.

I really doubt that McCain's adoptive daughter will pose a problem the second time around. In S.C. in 2000, wasn't the problem that Rove circulated the rumor at the last minute, before McCain had a chance to neutralize it? And since then the general, and widespread, concensus seems to be that that was the dirtiest political trick ever used.

"I don't have the winning charismatic personality that politicians have, John."

That's a good thing, Charles. Because a leader who is both right and charismatic simultaneously is going to be a dicey thing some day once we compromise habeas corpus.

It's odd. I'm extremely charismatic, but nearly never right. Or: It's charismatic, I'm extremely odd but nearly never right. Or: I'm charismatically extreme, so who cares if I'm right.

Maybe we could run on the same ticket.

And since then the general, and widespread, concensus seems to be that that was the dirtiest political trick ever used.

To the extent there is such consensus (and not merely a reported consensus), it only matters if it is reflected in the South. That I'll doubt until further evidence is offered.

julie writes: "John McCain? You must be kidding? He has absolutely no chance of getting the nomination. McCain is not a conservative; populist at best. He will not get the support of the base. I'll take Dubya over McCain anyday of the week."

Julie, if this is true, you apparently don't have th faintest understanding of what "conservative" means.

me: Charles, Did or Did Not the White House seek Dobson's blessing on Miers?

Charles: Yep, and look how much good it did Bush, Jon.

That's not because Dobson lacks influence. It did Bush no good because Bush left a flaming turd on Dobson's doorstep.

"And since then the general, and widespread, concensus seems to be that that was the dirtiest political trick ever used."

It is? What ignorami are saying that?

"Ever used in the presidential race of 2000," maybe. I mean, it's not even as if accusing a candidate of having a "mixed race" relative or baby, or being of mixed race, or being attacked through one's children, hasn't gone on in countless races in America since at least the 18th century (how quickly they forget freaking Thomas Jefferson). Let alone the endless list of far dirtier tricks. (Setting aside the at least dozens of times candidates have been, you know, killed; that strikes me as a tad dirtier, as does simply rigging the election, which has been done countless times, let alone all the mere smears.)

I'd like to have Charisma Carpenter on either my right, or left, John. Could I be your running mate if that happens?

I'd be much better at being a strolling mate who has to sit down frequently, though, to be honest.

"Julie, if this is true, you apparently don't have th faintest understanding of what 'conservative' means."

I'm intrigued to learn it has a single, universally-agreed-upon, meaning. I guess it's just like "liberal" that way.

I'm not sure it's such a longshot for McCain to get the nomination. He might be able to position himself in front of moderates, or Republicans who think Bush himself (not the radical right and the Robber barons) is the problem. But I don't know how Republicans think.

A Republican needs at least some portion of the base to win, especially in 2008. McCain will not deliver that, unless the religious right somehow starts remembering what Christianity is all about (viz., love, giving food to them that are an hungered and drink to them that thirst. visiting the least of these in prison, etc.), in which case they will become Democrats in any case.

But a Republican also needs the support of the GOP gatekeepers, whoever they are: the people who, early on, before candidates have really emerged, meet with potential candidates and decide who they will support. There are always such people -- someone has to determine who, of the scores of people who run for President, emerge as "plausible candidates" -- but my sense has always been that they are much more powerful in the GOP, partly because the GOP tends to be less fractious, and partly because they are more cohesive.

(These are the people who provided GWB with his huge war chest before the 2000 campaign had really gotten under way, thus narrowing the field to him and McCain before it had really started.)

Based purely on hunches, I doubt they will go for McCain. They have already had their chance, and passed on him. Based also on hunches, I tend to agree with CharleyCarp: Allen is a strong possibility. Partly because, as Matt Yglesias said at some point, he's the only person whose name is routinely floated in these discussions for whose candidacy there is nothing obvious to be said, and so I suspect that there is something non-ibvious, like his having a lot of support among the gatekeepers. -- There was nothing obvious to be said for GWB either, at this stage: feckless son of a former President who had very little experience of any kind, and all of that as the governor of a state with an extraordinarily weak governorship. And yet his name always came up.

If the GOP is dumb enough to nominate Allen, though, they deserve him.

But I don't know how Republicans think.

I can see at least one unwarranted assumption in there.

McCain is charismatic and, as such, provides curb appeal to a lot of voters. However, while his current views are "right" on a lot of issues, the thing that will be hardest for him to overcome in making a run for the White House is his inconsistency. Throughout his military and congressional careers, he has been consistently inconsistent -- in personal behavior, in idealogy and on the issues. In addition, he has repeatedly demonstrated his tendency to be a "loose cannon". I don't believe a majority of Americans will support such instability at the top.

SCMT, you may have confused this for a snarkier, more cutting blog...

hilzoy,

I don't think the gatekeepers annoint a single candidate, as I don't see them as being monolithic. Rather, one needs a threshold level fo support among gatekeepers to make it to the finals. In 2000, both Bush and McCain had it (and Steve Forbes needed only himself to be the gatekeeper, due to his bankroll), while Quayle and Liddy Dole, both of whom had significant advantages over Bush and McCain, didn't. I suspect McCain will have the level of support to make it to the finals in a way that Hagel will not, in spite of obvious similarities.

I agree with both you and Charley that Allen is fairly likely to be the social conservatives' choice, assuming Casey knocks off Santorum next fall.

Dtm: I think they are more monolithic in the GOP than in the fractious Democrats, but I may be just thinking of the recent past.

> i wonder who Rove is going to end up working
> for in 2008...

Used to be times when Frist seemed to be Rove's candidate. The way things are going, they both have to hope they do not end up campaigning from inside the gaol. Just sayin'.

Quick question, CB: You wrote, re Presidential communications:

"Fluent and articulate communication is too much to ask, but regular and consistent and coherent is not."

Just out of curiosity, why, exactly, is "fluent and articulate communication" "too much to ask"?

Do you truly have such low expectations of expected communications skills from a President of United States? Do you really NOT think that being able to put across ideas in a clearly comprehensible manner is some sort of desirable trait in this nation's Chief Executive? (a position, needless to say, of paramount importance in the world).
Or, despite the perfunctory Bush-bashing in your opening sentences, are you still trying to make excuses for George W. Bush's general inarticulate doofus-ness and seeming inability to formulate a coherent sentence in English without someone else's writing it for him?


"A Republican needs at least some portion of the base to win, especially in 2008. McCain will not deliver that, unless the religious right somehow starts remembering what Christianity is all about...."

Speaking as a non-Republican (save for that brief John Anderson period, and not counting a handful of votes here and there), this seems to be making the mistake of implying that there is a single Repbulican "base," and that it's the socially conservative Christians, evangelical or not, who make it up. I suggest this is akin to discussing the Democratic base as if it were all people who opposed attacking the Taliban.

But I don't know how Republicans think.
I can see at least one unwarranted assumption in there.
Can't imagine why Moe quit, or Sebastian and Charles feel cranky, myself. Apropos of nothing, you know.

What do we want? Content free insults!: when do we need them? Now!

Because that's the way to attract intelligent Republicans and conservatives for productive discussion. Fer sure.

(Of course, perhaps I'm entirely misreading what I'm responding to; perhaps I'm making an unwarranted assumption.)

This scenario would have seemed a bit more plausible before McCain spent the last year and a half slavishly sucking up to Bush. Maybe that's won him enough Republican base support to make up for the number of independents and centrist Democrats who are disgusted by it, but I doubt it.

I am surprised by the amount of folks who seem to think the GOP nod is going to go to any senator other than McCain. McCain is the only Senator of either party who has any chance of being elected president. If McCain doesn't get it, then the nomination will go to a governor like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour, or some other outside the beltway insurgent. Senators make lousy presidential candidates. In fact, there are only two presidents who came directly from the Senate and neither of them lived to see the next election (Warren Harding and JFK).
Also, yes, I do mean to say the Senator Clinton has zero chance of being elected president and only a small chance of getting the nomination. While Hillary is the supposed frontrunner for the Dems, that status is usually a curse to Dems in the primaries. In fact, no frontrunner (excluding incumbent presidents and V.P.) has ever won the Democratic nomination. Dean was beaten by Kerry in 04, Clinton arose from nowhere in 92, and so on and so forth with Dukakis, Mondale, Carter and McGovern.

"I think they are more monolithic in the GOP than in the fractious Democrats,"

It's not as if we could discuss a much lower standard.

"...but I may be just thinking of the recent past."

Perhaps you're confusing party discipline in the House with the Party. I can't say I saw a great deal of unity in the Republican approach to Harriet Miers, or see much between the libertarians and social conservatives, or the corporate interests and the social conservatives, or as regards which government programs should be cut, or between the paleocons and neocons on foreign policy, or on, hey, John McCain.

Unity, I've long observed, is easy to see from afar, but becomes strangely harder to discern up close.

But, then, fortunately folks on the Right don't tar "the Dems" or "the Left" with being very homogenous.

And I am Marie of....

You mean that isn't unwarrented for me to think that I don't know how Repbulicans think? Well I don't. For example, "the base" is always referred to as if the members thought alike, but one of my wingnut co-workers has a great deal of admiration for McCain. Also, if Democratic politicians exhibited corruption and/or extremism on the scale exhibited by the Republican politicians, I'd be very wary about voting Democratic, but the polls show that most Republicans aren't withdrawing support from their party. So, no, I don't know how Republicans evaluate their choices. I'm sure all kinds of factors go into play in different ways, but I have no confidence in my ability to make predictions about it.

J.A. Davis, at least with regards to 2004, you're not being very rigorous with your use of "frontrunner." That is, the buzz on Dean in November of 2001 was not so much existent as it was non-existent.

I'm not a biologist, and I admit that children go through dramatic changes as they age, but I'm pretty sure McCain's daughter isn't going to get any whiter.

Charles response:

If you're trying to say that the delegates who will decide McCain's fate are too racist to nominate him, don't go there, SCMT.

No -- he's saying that the many latent racists in your party in places like South Carolina will have a hard time voting for him.

"Senators make lousy presidential candidates."

True.

"In fact, there are only two presidents who came directly from the Senate and neither of them lived to see the next election (Warren Harding and JFK)."

True, but that "directly" is awfully misleading.

Senators make lousy Presidental candidates for a variety of reasons, including among others that a) while an incumbent, they have time-conflicts between doing their job and campaigning; b) as Senators, they commit to lots of votes and statements that can be used against them; c) their rhetoric tends to adapt to the Senate, and away from that pleasing to the public; d) the job showcases no executive experience or executive accomplishments.

B through D can still be problems for former-Senators-turned-candidate, but didn't prevent us from having Presidents Monroe, Truman, Jackson, Kennedy, van Buren, LBJohnson, Franklin Pierce, James Polk, or John Quincy Adams, for instance, nor a considerably larger number of former Senators becoming the Presidential nominee of their party (which is the present subject). (And this isn't bringing in former members of the House who weren't also Senators, who pretty much have the same problems as Senators, but less glory, such as President Fillmore and President Garfield and President Hayes and President McKinley and some guy named Lincoln, among various others.)

So using history to assert the unlikeliness of former Senator becoming the nominee of her or his party is not exactly as sound a choice as the recent cliche would have it.

"In fact, no frontrunner (excluding incumbent presidents and V.P.) has ever won the Democratic nomination."

Really? Who was the frontrunner in 1933? In 2004? 1896? 1900? 1908? 1864? 1832? 1952? 1956? 1928?

That's just off the top of my head. Did history only start after we started paying attention to politics, or something?

"Did history only start after we started paying attention to politics, or something?"

Althought that wouldn't explain the world in which John Kerry wasn't the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2004.

...this seems to be making the mistake of implying that there is a single Repbulican "base," and that it's the socially conservative Christians, evangelical or not, who make it up. I suggest this is akin to discussing the Democratic base as if it were all people who opposed attacking the Taliban.

Are you really saying that the demographics of "socially conservative Christians" in the Republican party and "people who opposed attacking the Taliban" in the Democratic party are equivalent? Do you have any numbers to back this up?

[Even if you modify the former "socially conservative evangelical/fundamentalist Christians", I still don't find this contention remotely plausible in raw numbers, let alone in political influence.]

Althought that wouldn't explain the world in which John Kerry wasn't the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2004.

The real problem with that is, "front-runner" when? To reductio into absurdem, every Democratic candidate was the front-runner for the nomination after the primary...

"Are you really saying that the demographics of 'socially conservative Christians' in the Republican party and 'people who opposed attacking the Taliban' in the Democratic party are equivalent?"

Not particularly. I wasn't discussing demographics at all. I was discussing the fact that both parties have "bases" that are made up of a variety of sometimes overlapping, sometimes not, sub-bases. That neither's "base" is particularly unified save, from time to time, about getting rid of the other party.

"The real problem with that is, 'front-runner' when?"

I was assuming the loose metric of "in at least the year or two prior to the nominating convention," although in many cases it was for a longer period of time than that. (Bryan, for instance, or Stevenson.)

By the monolithic 'they', I didn't mean Republicans, but the very much smaller subset of them who serve as what I called 'gatekeepers'. So the real tests of what I said, I think, would be the degree to which, in years with no eligible incumbent President, they congealed around one candidate; and whether this is greater or less than the degree to which their Democratic counterparts did.

Since, as was pointed out, this sets the bar extraordinarily low, I didn't take this to be that controversial.

McCain? Hell, no. He's showed his colors more often than I care to remember. He voted for Graham's amendment the first time around, and while he may be anti-torture, he sure isn't opposed to trashing habeas corpus in the name of the next great holy war. And even on torture, he wouldn't make noise about it during the campaign - only when it was politically convenient to do so. He knows when it's safe to look like a straight talker. God save us from plastic saints.

Pat Robertson is a nut. And I say this as a pro-life, Christian conservative. I can see how you may disagree with Dobson's views, but trust me, he's not as bad as Robertson. I don't think the extreme right is any more rabid than the extreme left, even though the media likes to portray conservatives that way. There are tens of millions of conservatives like me who, in all reality, are moderates. We shun the rabid right and are disgusted by the looney left. We're sick of the courts interfering in our lives and we want a strong national defense. We care about things liberals do to, like health care for all and a strong economy, we just have a different philosophy to get us there. A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DOESN'T HAVE TO SAY 'JESUS' AND 'GOD' TO GET OUR VOTES. THAT IS OVERLY SIMPLISTIC. All the candidate has to do is stand up against the power-hungry judiciary, protect the country and come up with innovative, market-based ideas to deal with the economic and health care issues. Unfortunately, nothing is getting done right now because of this ridiculous argument about pre-war Iraq intelligence. It seems in many ways, our country is grinding to a halt because of the hatred right now. LET'S GET SOME SH*T DONE!!!

McCain, admittedly for party reasons I assume, supported and continues to support the person who treated him like shit and who he (if not, I don't respect the man) deep down knows is a lousy choice for President on various levels.

This includes, except perhaps on the torture amendment (but consider the Graham amendment which wanted to make it a paper target), not seriously drawing a line on any issue and actually risking drawing a line in the sand when the President and other members of his group repeatedly threatened American security and values.

His maverick label therefore leaves a bit to be desired, sorry. He's eventually part of the problem -- the reason why Bush got away with things for so long.

"All the candidate has to do is stand up against the power-hungry judiciary...."

That's the "power-hungry judiciary" that was overwhelmingly appointed by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Bush, to be sure.

I wasn't discussing demographics at all.

If you're going to be discussing "bases", though, you pretty much have to.

I was discussing the fact that both parties have "bases" that are made up of a variety of sometimes overlapping, sometimes not, sub-bases.

You were? If that's the case, I don't see how the analogy is meaningful unless "people who opposed attacking the Taliban" comprise a comparable segment of the Democratic "base" -- assuming arguendo we can talk about such things in any meaningful capacity -- as "socially conservative Christians" make within the Republican base.

For example, to make up some numbers: if "socially conservative Christians" comprise around 90% of the Republican base (which tracks with most of the numbers I've seen), while "people who opposed attacking the Taliban" comprise only 1% of the Democratic base (beats the hell out me, which is why I was asking for a cite), your comparison doesn't prove anything like what you're attempting to establish. You might be able to refine the argument by, e.g., choosing your categorizations differently (refining the partition, so to speak), or by putting forward numbers that indicate the comparison is apt, but as it is you're comparing apples to orange pips.

Republican appointments are automatically non power-hungry? Someone tell Jesurgislac. ;)

After following a link to this site from Digby, I have a deeper appreciation for why conservatism is dead. Your link to Red State.org is not a set of conservative principles. Russell Kirk was a genuine conservative and you won't find any support for Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles in today's Republican Party.

Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word “conservative” as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.

The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata.

Those were the good old days, when principled conservative was not an oxymoron.

Charles, what would you say were the reasons that McCain lost the South Carolina primary?

McCain's downfall in South Carolina didn't have to do with just that one issue, Gary. Yes, he got smeared by "surrogates", but he also got out-politicked, and that was right around the time when he started looking like he was off his feed--he lost his temper and he didn't show presidential temperament at the most critical hour. He also pissed off a couple of nationally syndicated conservative talk radio types.

Do you truly have such low expectations of expected communications skills from a President of United States?

Yes. I'm not sure anyone has ever thought Bush's prose fluent and articulate, Jay.

Do you really NOT think that being able to put across ideas in a clearly comprehensible manner is some sort of desirable trait in this nation's Chief Executive?

I also wrote that it is NOT too much to ask that he express his message regularly, consistently and coherently. Bush has failed at that, and it's own damn fault. Or Rove's. I wrote in an earlier post that Rove basically sucks in off years. He's a liability when there's not an election on the horizon.

I think they are more monolithic in the GOP than in the fractious Democrats.

You should see the response to this post at Redstate, Hil. Granted, several of those supporting McCain are left-of-center, but still, the response from the right-of-center is pretty mixed.

Your link to Red State.org is not a set of conservative principles.

Having read Kirk's ten principles, Gary, all I can is, yup, I'm a conservative.

You should see the response to this post at Redstate, Hil.

The fact that there isn't a Reagan's 11th commandment for Democrats would stand as counter evidence. Of course, when the monolith breaks, it does so spectacularly (cf Miers), and probably will do so when it comes time to choose a presidential candidate for the next election, but I don't think this should be taken as evidence against monolithic-ness.

I am so sick of the religious right and their so-called high morale values. What are the values of christians anyway. If you look at the one's who proclaim "Jesus is Lord", they are no reflection of what Jesus stood for! They are hateful, self rightous, and hypocritical.

One thing you can say for John McCain is that he is real and does not need to stand behind the skirt of Jesus to state what he believes. He will not need to step on gays to win, and take away from the poor to look good. I am so sick of the so called traditional family values men who get caught stealing, cheating on their wives, trying to control right to life issues and everything else. Lets just get some good conservative like John McCain in office and watch this country flourish under his leadership.

By the way, I love to watch interviews when Tony Perkins (President of the FRC) comes on TV. There he sits talking his Jesus talk and wearing makeup, eye liner, and blush. It is so disgusting to see him trying to pretty himself up. I have HDTV and can see it all. It is really gross how he does it. Kind of like how Dan Quayle use wear makeup. I can't help but wonder if this anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-fun Jesus fanatic is really wearing women's underwear under his straight laced suit.

McCain is a good conservative, but a bad Republican. He has the voting record of a religious conservative, but stuck his thumb into the eye of religious conservatives in 2000: He singled out Robertson and Falwell for abuse (deservedly), but never mentioned that they don't represent all religious conservatives. McCain seemed to deliberately split the GOP into factions, hoping that some maveric GOP coalition could carry him to the nomination. This was very politically stupid.
He could get the nomination, but i know he has many fences to mend. He will have to swallow his pride in order to regain the good graces of religious conservatives (which he is capable of doing).
Rice and Giuliani aren't as conservative as McCain, but have also been more respectful of conservatives than he. They have about as good a shot at the nomination as he does. Keep your eye out for some liliputians with potential: George Allen, Mitt Romney.
BTW, FWIW, Blacks and Catholics can do just fine in today's GOP. 2000 South Carolina primary, the most conservative, religious voters went with Alan Keyes, a black Catholic. These were the most GOP loyal, most Southern Baptist voters in the nation. 10% for a fringe candidate, because he had truer conservative ideals than did Bush or McCain.

BTW, FWIW, Blacks and Catholics can do just fine in today's GOP. 2000 South Carolina primary, the most conservative, religious voters went with Alan Keyes, a black Catholic. These were the most GOP loyal, most Southern Baptist voters in the nation. 10% for a fringe candidate, because he had truer conservative ideals than did Bush or McCain.

Inflating 4.5% to 10% weakens this argument considerably

Bob McManus: The anti-torture amendment is completely phony, and always was. The minute an opportunity to effectively nullify it, McCain jumped on board. He simply wanted a grandstanding appearance of being against torture. He would govern precisly like Bush, except worse.

I've never agreed so completely with anything Bob has written here. I'm beyond disgusted.

J.A. Davis: McCain could pick up his big neighbor California and Bush's lost cause of Pennsylvania

Now you're cheering me up, J.A. In your dreams, in your dreams.

early wins in Iowa and South Carolina making New Hampshire irrelevant (again)

Democrats are looking hard at tinkering with the primary sequencing, though admittedly not until after 2008. Is there no similar movement inside the RNC? Seems as if the powers that be could arrange for early primaries where motivated primary-goers wouldn't be the rabid right... Though I'd have thought Iowa and NH were two of those places already.

McCain RULZ!

41.8% in SC in '08 will be a LANDSLIDE in a crowded field!!!


Mitt Romney will probably have problems with the Falwell/Dobson Right because he's a Mormon.

NJ moved thier '08 primary up to FEBRUARY!! McCAIN COUNTRY!!!

The case has been made for and against McCain. As such, I'll make the case for Rudy.

What the GOP needs in 2008 is a politician who can complete the transformation of Middle America into GOP territory. Bush lost the Rust Belt twice, by a narrow margin, due to his red-state swagger and thick drawl. States like MI, PA, WI, and MN are the key to the next few elections. The GOP has maxed out in the red states. We can get all the electoral votes in the south and west and still end up with less than 300. Plus, those purple states in the northern midwest have a ton of swing House and Senate seats that offer the GOP a chance at a filibuster-proof Senate. But just where can the post-Bush GOP find a leader that will appeal to the Rust Belt?

Enter Rudy. A larger-than-life Italian Catholic with a red-state personality and a Rust-Belt demeanor. Like many folks from Jersey, Philly, and Chicago, Rudy grew up in a working class Italian family, went to church with his fellow ethnic Catholics, and worked his way up in the tough-as-nails north. Rudy would have a much easier time connecting with this part of America than a wealthy southerner like George Allen.

But wait! Is Rudy conservative enough for red America? Just look at his record to find out. As Mayor, Rudy was a tax cutter, a budget balancer, an entitlement reformer, a government cutter, and a compassionate conservative who sent needless city employees packing while hiring more cops and teachers which the city actually needed. Plus, Rudy is hardcore on law and order, making him the perfect terror warrior. Like Teddy Roosevelt, Rudy's independent appeal will convince lots of people to give another look to conservatism and show America that it's cool to be Republican again.

Ah, but what about his personal life? Never fear. Rudy will be 64 years old in 2008. His wild youth is behind him. Rudy is now happily married and can easily cite the mistakes that he's made as proof that he's a changed man.

But wait, you say! What about social issues? Surely those will end his campaign! Not so. Rudy may be pro-choice and pro-gay rights on a personal level, but as long as he runs hands-off on cultural issues, he'll be fine. He can simply make it clear that he recognizes that most of his GOP voters disagree with him on these issues and so as president he won't do anything to advance socially liberal causes. The main thing that the president does regarding cultural matters is appoint judges anyway, and if Rudy comes out as a social federalist, promising to appoint champions of judicial restraint to the courts like Roberts and Alito, he'll keep the support of social conservatives while still maintaining his support among moderates. After all, would social conservatives rather have three more Robertses on the Court or three more Ginsbergs appointed by Hillary? The choice will be clear.

If anyone can destroy Hillary in 2008, it's Rudy. He's got the right positions, he's got the personality, he's got the electoral votes. All he needs now...is your support.

Rudy For VP!!! With McCAIN on TOP! Dynamic Duo!!!

Thanks for the info about NJ, buzz. And with that I swear off thinking about 2008 for some time. It produces the bleak, queasy feeling appropriate to facing facts: we live in a theatrical 'democracy' where almost half the population thinks it's fine to torture, and where a few men with money and media outlets decide who will "lead" us.

Charles,

You say that after reading Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles that you are a conservative.

How many Republican Senators can you name that you think are capable of satisfying 6 out of ten of those principles?

Keep in mind Kirk's caveat, which I have already quoted, that conservatism is not a "system of ideological dogma."

I would argue that any Republican who voted for the Graham Amendment Compromise that passed today flunks on both of the first two principles:

First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.

Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.

I do not believe a single Republican Senator can be given credit for meeting the criteria of six out of the remaining eight conservative principles.

Charles,

Interestingly enough, Sen. Specter may be the only Republican Senator who is capable of batting over 500% on Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles.

Liberal Japonicus:
You caught me with my pants down. I definitely misremembered those primary results, and should have checked them before posting.
Regardless of the one underwhelming argument i offered, I still believe there are good arguments to bolster my point.
If the GOP had as much blackophobia as some of the posters in this section seem to believe, Rice wouldn't have the support she currently does (check rasmussenreports, the most sucessful predictor of the 2004 pres. race). She's blacker than Powell, but somehow more popular in the GOP. The obvious conclusion -- GOPers care more about her politics than hue.
Obviously, this is not proof that there is no racism in the GOP. Of course there is some. But I think the GOP has the same level of aversion to blackness as the Dems have to orthodox religious faith: it's a negative, but becomes almost negligible when the suspect candidate says the right things, and their opponents of preferred demographic groups say the wrong things.

You R welcome Nell but why so sad? McCain has it made in NJ! He's the least likley to approve of anything featuring torture and the most likely to get the "R" nod in '08!

Rice supports affirmative action and abortion rights, as does Powell. Now go look at the reaction to Miers when there was an implication she felt the same way. Also, no way does Hillary get out of the primaries.

McCain Emergent?

Is this a post about something that is actually happening or what Charles wishes for?

Other than the current torture flap, what is making McCain emergent these days?

As a non-Republcian, McCain used to be one I would consider voting for. But his adherance to the Republican principle of never criticizing one another in public means that he has been a suck-up to a long trend of policy horror. Its inexcusable -- and so I vote with bobmcmanus and DaveL on this one.

He's managed to master the trick of being a sycophant maverick.

I suspect he has little chance of getting the party nomination. He reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt -- too much of a wild card to be trusted by the powers that be.

Dana
No worries, and sorry if my short comment came off as too aggressive. I tend to agree that the most of those who vote Republican don't actually have racist beliefs, but they may have very lazy stereotypes about black americans that are used by Republican politicians. I would also agree that some on the left have some lazy stereotypes about religion. The difference I would suggest is that Democrats are not exploiting those stereotypes to gain an edge (I acknowledge that this is partly because it would be electoral suicide)

As for support for Rice, I think the NO statehouse race between Blanco and Jindahl is a useful window. Jindahl had a lead in the polls going into the race, but lost the election because there was a gap between what Louisianans said in polls and the way they voted. I think that support for Rice might have a similar dynamic.

Not the NO statehouse, the Louisiana state house.

Hillary's done well by her constituents; her re-election seems a sure thing.

People are so wrapped up in hating or loving her, or seeing her only as a symbol, they rarely if ever think about her actual qualities as a politician.

I see her as a technician; a deal-maker and a sail-trimmer. She got an amazing amount of work done during Bill's Presidency, working behind the scenes with the very same people who vilified Bill (and, often, her) in public. She does the same thing now, negotiating with people to get things done, regardless of what they say or do for the cameras. She's results-oriented, and thicker skinned than a rhino.

That behind-the-scenes motif was her downfall during the health care debate. I don't see the secrecy as sinister, more as her usual MO. She knows she's a lightning rod; being a lightning rod gets in the way of getting things done; so she ignores the punditariat and the Hillary Haters and just keeps working the room, networking, negotiating, compromising.

Whether these qualities, that make her a good Senator, also make her Presidential timber is another matter. I'm undecided on that one.

But I don't think I'll need to resolve the matter, since I agree she's unlikely to make it past the early primaries, if she even enters the race at all. A Presidential candidate has to be willing to speak his or her mind to the country, clearly and honestly. It's going to be difficult for Hillary to do that, knowing (as she must) that everything she says will be attacked and distorted - and not having anywhere near her husband's ability to communicate with and charm the public.

For those of you who know Harvey Birdman:

I see her as a technician; a deal-maker and a sail-trimmer.

Ha, ha. Sail-trimmer.

I think he's sincere about wanting to end torture, but he's even more sincere about wanting to get elected President. It's not hard to rationalize this either: "if I want to REALLY make sure to end torture by the U.S. am I more effective as one vote or co-sponsor--and not even the decisive one--or doing what I can now & waiting till I get elected President for the rest? Clearly the latter." Very easy for politicians to fall into this trap. Kerry sure did.

I don't see the secrecy as sinister, more as her usual MO. She knows she's a lightning rod; being a lightning rod gets in the way of getting things done; so she ignores the punditariat and the Hillary Haters and just keeps working the room, networking, negotiating, compromising.

Brad DeLong's take on this (as he was in the admin when this was happening) was pretty negative, but I view this as a very good thing because it indicates that she can learn from her mistakes. In fact, the demand of absolute and unwavering consistency from politicians has contributed as much as anything else to the paucity of thoughtful Congressional members.

This is not a Hillary for President observation however, cause I'm close to the point where I don't really care who runs just as long as they win.

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