McCain has a history of breaking rank, rather than leading
the way. From his near-flunkout at
the Naval Academy
to his 2000 election run, his Quixotic crusades and questionable
failures led to wonderful press and cheerleading by traditional
enemies. Particularly the press themselves, certainly considered
the “enemy” by most conservatives. In fact, when
considering McCain’s path, it’s difficult to
determine which has led the way.
McCain’s latest gambit is a particularly stellar example
why conservatives shouldn’t listen to accolades from
enemies, and should pay closer attention to history, and
at least consider the conscience of their own party.
Since banishment to Senate minority, Democrats
apparently decided to stop at virtually nothing to save
power. Unfortunately, faced with a bare-knuckles Senate fight
over judicial confirmations, Senate Republicans have dawdled
and wrung hands day after day, month after month and year
after year. Should they capitulate to Democrats? Or eliminate
the filibuster and pull the trigger on the so-called “nuclear
Or, was there a way out? Some sort of (ahem) compromise?
That’s the word, “compromise,” which to
Democrats roughly translates, “we’ll screw you
a little less.” But to Senator John McCain the word “compromise” is
the Call of the Sirens.
The media began the drumbeat, gushing for
their hero. Can the great conflict be resolved? Who
will stop the meltdown?
Only one man can save the Senate! It’s time for The
Maverick…John McCain!!! Yayyyyy!!!
McCain perked to attention, slobbered, and
reached for his toes, leading 14 Senate “moderates” to craft
the Great 2005 Compromise, and save the world. Dazzling!
Brilliant! Why don’t all Republicans emulate this amazing
man? And see? Those right-wing nut jobs have been stumped
by Presid…uh…Senator John McCain.
It took Democrats exactly three days to break the agreement.
The John Bolton appointment to the United
Nations was supposed to be the first example of McCain’s
agreement in action, where up-or-down Senate votes would
once again determine
the fate of Presidential nominations. But on the very first
test, Democrats, shall we say, bolted, refusing to allow
a floor vote.
On one hand, upholding a promise for three
a bad record for Democrats, who have been known to reneg
before the ink is dry and press conference microphones are
set up on the Senate Triangle. But it was definitely a bad
day for Republicans. Especially McCain.
Obviously, John McCain still covets the White House. His
strategy is clear. Abandon the far-right, capture the middle,
infuriate the status quo, and find yourself sitting in the
Oval Office. But while shifting positions for political expediency
might work for Democrats, who essentially stand for nothing,
Republicans generally vote on principle.
However, the coming 2008 election offers
a unique chance for McCain’s ploy. The likely Democrat nominee is Hillary
Clinton, the most polarizing candidate since George Wallace.
She’ll simultaneously motivate liberals and power up
conservative opposition with incredible verve. But Clinton
shrewdly spent the last four years cloaking and dragging
her far-left legacy towards the political middle. McCain
is gambling that his right-wing base will stay loyal despite
his checkered record of appeasement, and moderate dolts will
embrace his reputation as a Great Compromiser, rather than
the bitter-tasting Hillary.
But after this fiasco, McCain-Clinton election
will feature three fascinating battles: 1) between a Republican
between rising up against Hillary and abandoning the sell-out
McCain, 2) between the first right-wing debate remnants versus
the exuberant liberal base, and 3) within the muddle-headed
middle, musing over a semi-popular Clinton cult of personality,
and McCain, King Of Compromise. It sounded like a good plan,
until Thursday. Now, doubts are creeping. How can McCain
handle the world’s treacherous leaders when he gets
snookered by mere Democrats?
Ironically, McCain would have been best served
by embracing the far-right approach to the filibuster issue.
If he helped
keep quivering Republicans in line, Bill Frist may have had
the luxury of shoving the nuclear option down Harry Reid’s
shorts and threatening detonation, forcing Democrats to consider
a position of zero Senate power for probably a decade or
more. McCain’s right base would have been strengthened.
Instead, McCain put Republicans in a weaker position, certainly
losing a chunk of the GOP base, and a few points from the
John McCain’s ploy may cost Republicans
the White House in 2008. Or perhaps McCain knows how to
without holding office. Of course, Democrats just schooled
him on that subject. tRO