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February 4, 2008

John McCain Facing Forward

Steven R. Berryman

The Florida Republican Primary contest is now behind us and it certainly was a watershed event. John McCain won large. Rudy Giuliani bowed out afterward despite having wagered heavily in that state, chock-full of retirees from New York. This may have been the arena where McCain’s age was a trump card. What does he face going forward?

Facing former Giuliani supporters and winning them over will be a starter. A Rudy endorsement is not enough to cement the coordination of the two campaigns, and I just don’t see the former New York City mayor as a vice presidential candidate.

Rudy was a very gracious loser. However, show me a gracious loser, and I’ll show you a loser. 9/11 wore out, and his past came back to bite him. His anti-gun posture shot him in the foot.

Facing the guy with the expensive hair won’t be a national problem; gone back to the barber shop. This helps Dems to clarify their side.

Facing the environment will get easier for John McCain. The governator of Cal-E-Forn-ia will nudge him left-wise on this issue for the endorsement.

Facing a handsome young face from Mitt Romney will be first. He’s just a bit too well produced, especially viewed next to the McCain Train candor.

Former Massachusetts Governor Romney became famous for a statement made in August 2007 about Iraq being about terrorists:

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republican presidential contenders sparred over abortion on Sunday but generally agreed the United States must remain in Iraq as part of the war on terror.

"Just come home," countered Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the lone dissenter on a debate stage when it came to Iraq. He said there had never been a good reason to go to war in the first place.

"Has he forgotten about 9/11?" interjected former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.”

Some say that invading Iraq because of 9/11 is like invading Mexico due to Pearl Harbor.

Facing Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is a non-starter. He flipped on taxation and released too many from prisons. Too much video-ready hypocrisy. The Dems may attempt to help keep him propped-up as a soft target for later destruction.

More than likely, Senator McCain’s “keepers” are working hard to keep him in the race up to Super-Duper Tuesday (tomorrow) in order to drain-off potential Mitt-ers. Then look for more “graciousness.”

Fences, borders and immigration policy are potential land mines for Senator McCain, whose loose plans are viewed by some as amnesty. A border fence by him would probably be an electronic one, using spy satellites from Lockheed Martin.

It’s the Economy, stupid!…Meet the Press had Senator McCain running for cover answering his unfortunate comment that he knew a lot more about national security policy than the economy. No worries, as that’s what expert advisors are for. There are very few lay politicians with any useful, really deep, knowledge on this subject.

Facing the truth, Senator McCain sides with President George W. Bush on the rationale for invading Iraq. Maybe that’s one he would flip-flop on. We do “own it” per Colin Powell; so in terms of function, it’s a moot point now.

Looking forward, Senator McCain is facing a Clinton and an Obama, respectively.

Which Clinton? It’s a package deal, no matter how it gets presented. Forget not that former President Bill Clinton investigated whether he could legally run as his wife’s vice presidential candidate. Interesting that Oprah (a woman) endorsed Obama (a man). The novelty must have been lost on her. I guess Hillary should have run more as a woman.

Regarding Barrack Obama, I can already see a Reagan moment where you would hear from Senator McCain: “If you don’t use my senior age against me, I won’t use your youthful inexperience against you.”

A constitutional law professor from the University of Chicago Law School, Senator Obama gets points for mastery of the theoretical side of the law, but that doesn’t buy you experience. For him, that’s a limited commodity, and anyone can get a free Constitution from The Heritage Foundation.

And, aren’t the courts supposed to sort out constitutional confusion anyway? Maybe Senator Obama is confused about the branches.

Seniority in age can be a big plus to Baby Boomers, whose average age is trending ever closer to Senator McCain’s by the day.

Facing Social Security, who better to view it with perspective and win over the AARP?

Facing the National Rifle Association won’t be a problem for John McCain. He gets it.

Facing his senatorial legacy, McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bodes well for what is right and fair, and Senator McCain absolutely stole the issue from the Dems. They are still mad about it.

Now, Fast Forward.

Don’t forget that the real “Bush Doctrine” is that one can enter the White House and operate with impunity regardless of campaign pledges and promises, so expect Senator McCain to pull up the drawbridge with some heartier conservatives. After all, Bush 43’s first win was empowered by “I am not a nation builder.”

Me, myself, I embrace much of what the Libertarian Ron Paul represents, including attitudes on our expansion policy, the American role in the world, size of government, and fiscal policy. He’s right-on with personal privacy and federal government intrusiveness issues and gets it.

Unfortunately, libertarianism is a philosophy and not a process one can govern by. Congressman Paul has a plan to ditch much of government, including the IRS, which plays well this time of year; but his replacement programs, which he would substitute, are without form and substance.

Facing reality, Senator McCain gets the consequences of military aggression, as he has a son in the Naval Academy now. A man with family in harms way makes better decisions about conquest. Don’t forget that Rome fought only “defensive wars.”

I’m not certain that he gets that “terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy” yet; but then the presidency does provide for “on the job training.”

Fast forward to November: it’s a race to the center ground!

John McCain is worthy of consideration within the likely finishing field, certainly on a least-worst basis.

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