Carol Platt Liebau: Can McCain Still Pull It Out?

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Can McCain Still Pull It Out?

Fred Barnes thinks so.

For my part, I'm not so sure. The dislike of McCain in conservative circles is so entrenched for his stands on issues ranging from campaign finance reform to the Bush tax cuts to illegal immigration that it's hard to see how he overcomes it, quickly, without painting himself as a flip-flopper of the worst kind. What's more, his contempt and dislike for religious conservatives really does seem to come through clearly, and has won him few friends.

As Barnes points out, a lot of the enmity between conservatives and McCain springs from a lack of trust -- a sense, as he aptly notes, that McCain cares more about what The New York Times thinks than about what conservatives do. One of President Reagan's most charming qualities was his utter disregard of the opinion of elite media -- and in that, at least, Rudy Giuliani is reminiscent of the Gipper.

And for those who have been touting McCain's ability to reach across party lines, it's worth noting that the press will (and has been) turning against him in direct proportion to his attempts to identify himself as more of a Republican and less of a maverick. Who doesn't believe -- if McCain wins the Republican nomination -- that a slew of damaging stories will appear, wherein, for example, McCain's legendary temper is presented as new evidence of "instability" or "lack of presidential temperament"?

There's no doubt that McCain's redeeming virtue has been his support for the war. But if one is looking for a well-known champion of the war on terror, pragmatic Republicans might ask, why not then support Rudy -- whose support has been no less unwavering but who lacks some of McCain's baggage of Senate votes? And if one is willing to understand and overlook shifts on important policy issues, why not go with Mitt Romney -- who, with his staunch fight against gay marriage, has at least demonstrates that when he adopts conservative principles, he sticks with them?


Blogger Greg said...

There is an obvious and very funny remark here. But it's also potentially offensive, so I'll resist.

7:53 AM  

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