Carol Platt Liebau: The Man to Beat?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Man to Beat?

Pundits like Dick Morris sing paens to McCain's supposed electoral strengths:

His record taps into a latent populism that attracts Republicans, Democrats and Independents. His battle against big tobacco, efforts to address global warming, opposition to torture during interrogations and fight to reform corporate governance and to protect investors and pensioners appeal to voters of all stripes.

Hm. No doubt the press and those of more moderate/liberal persuasions like McCain. He presents the MSM "dream" of a moderate Republican changing the face of the GOP, and reaching out to the supposedly deliberative, middle-of-the-road, ever-so-choosy independents.

The question that a McCain candidacy might well answer once and for all is whether a person who is essentially an independent can bring over enough swing voters to compensate for the dispirited, lackluster response that would certainly come from the conservative base of his own party -- which McCain has enjoyed mistreating for years.

Certainly, McCain would have some luck in a race with Hillary Clinton, just because she is so viscerally disliked by so man Americans, Republican and Democrat alike. Against Clinton, there is indeed a chance that many who otherwise have no use for McCain would hold their noses and vote for him. But against Barack Obama -- who, for now at least, many Republicans seem to like personally -- the story could be a little different. Think how the media could frame the narrative: Past vs. future, a living reminder of a divisive time in our history (Vietnam) vs. making history (with an African-American president), a grumpy, abrasive old Republican vs. a likable, cool Democrat.

And if anyone out there thinks that McCain would continue to get a free ride from the MSM when he goes up against a Democrat, think again. Fairly or unfairly, we'd start hearing a lot about his age, his health and history of melanoma and prostate cancer, his involvement with the Keating Five, his temperament -- even, perhaps unfairly, speculation that his legendary temper is a result of psychological trauma.

Once the press got done with him, independents wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole. And conservatives already, largely, despise his stands on policy issues and his dismissive behavior of them, even though they appreciate his service in Vietnam and persistance on Iraq-related issues.


Blogger LQ said...

I like McCain for the same reasons I dislike the Clintons: character and integrity.

Despite having some policy disagreements with him, I think he stands up for what he believes is right, whatever the political consequences. I admire that.

I'd be grateful, Carol, if you ran some posts with your thoughts on how the GOP candidates compare on character and integrity.

5:18 PM  
Blogger stackja1945 said...

Carol, is this the same Morris who left Clinton after some incident with a lady? McCain has enought problems and does not need such supporters.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem for the Republicans, Carol, is that no independent is going to touch any of their candidates with a 10-foot pole come November.

You claim most independents don't like angry old men. Historically I'm not sure either of the major parties ever nominated a cantankerous coot for President, so there is not test for your theory, but it sounds about right.

We know from 2000 and 2004 that people who are labeled "serial exaggerators" and "flip-floppers" suffer electoral hits. The difference this time is that Mitt Romney actually is precisely the serial exaggerator and flip-flopper that right wing imagination projected unto Gore and Kerry.

Putting aside Mike Huckabee's public comments on religion (which even Fox News think need explaining), the Huck has plenty of other disqualifiers for independents. As bad as Willy Horton was for Michael Dukakis, wait until independents actually get acquainted with the curious case of Wayne Dumond. That alone is enough to sink the Huck campaign.

That leaves the Republicans with...who exactly? Rudy Giuliani and his uncontrollable urge to mention 9/11 twice per sentence? Fred Thompson and his belief that he should be coronated as President without having to actually work for the nomination? Ron Paul who is Ron Paul?

6:44 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I have no idea who the Republican nominee is going to be. But I wouldn't be so quick to exclude Mitt Romney from consideration.

6:51 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

A solid win for Romney in Michigan!

But this is a tough and unpredictable campaign. South Carolina may shuffle the deck yet again. Or, it could finally provide some clarity.

We'll see.

5:36 AM  

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