Saturday, April 19, 2008

TPH: How is he doing this?!

The Political Hoedown
Just a few words to tide you over...

John McCain is holding up well in the With President Bush's approval rating at a stunning 28% (and, even more awe-inspiring, that isn't the lowest Presidential approval rating since they were measured...), support for continuing presence in Iraq faltering (to be kind) and Obamamentum barreling past controversy and missteps, McCain should already be half-beaten in the gutter waiting for November to put him out of his misery.

What magic devils doth he implore to keep him neck-and-neck in virtually every national poll?

If you guessed gypsy magic, you'd be wrong. Flashy and tricksy, but wrong. Simply put, he doesn't look that bad in comparison to his fellow contenders. Hillary is making up her international experience faster than an imaginary sniper's bullet. Obama is suffering from a variety of negative stories in the press, and this brings a hint of doubt to his audience. So what is left?

John McCain.

I've spent a lot of electronic ink (electro-ink? e-ink? eeenk?!) talking about the Democrats and peppering my "reporting" with commentary. What about that other guy, you know, Old Man John 'Soon-I'll-Gum-My-Food' McCain? Do I think he's The One? No, of course not, but I am a fan of his approach to politics and the world. Obviously, I have to ask myself if a Cold War Warrior, a Reagan Footsoldier, is right for the 21st Century. More than GWBush's 3rd term in McCain, might it be Reagan Mark 3? What does that even mean?

Right now, everything bad that happens to the others casts better light on him. He's not being very loud right now, not very divisive. He can't be, since a chunk of Republicans are, to say the least, wary of him as their candidate. It's worth mentioning that though he isn't losing, nor is he gaining. Aside from that, he's solidifying his political base.

Not the Evangelicals, but the broader Republican base: the libertarians, social conservatives, economic conservatives and the hawks. I don't factor in the Evangelical vote this year because while it will play a part, it's role will be less than in 2000 and 2004, simply because McCain isn't Bush. And he probably doesn't like those guys all that much. They have to realize that you can play for the same team without liking every player, but you pull together for that last drive down the field (hey, a successful sports metaphor!).

Bush cast himself as a crusader, and McCain is too pragmatic to wear that armor. Reagan was the Cold War Warrior, fighting against the Big Idea of Communism around the world, through its most powerful proxy, the USSR. McCain could take a page from this book and, instead of bringing to mind half-hearted images of Bush-as-Woodrow Wilson, espousing broad freedom around the world through intervention, envision himself as the inheritor of Reagan's mantle. There is a difference between stubbornly following an ideology and structuring an argument for one as The Better Choice. See our protesters not being jailed, hear our church bells and imans and spinning dreidels, and etc.

It's about positioning, McCain proving he's a conservatives the likes of which Reagan was, not a polarizing extremist some in the party have become. While a conservative in many ways aready, he confounds them also by not walking the straight party line and sometimes approaching policy and legislation from other than the far right. Will the internecine warfare of the Democratic Party last long enough to see him hit 50% in the polls when put head-to-head with Obama or Hillary? Good question.

Ask me again after the Pennsylvania primary.


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