Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How the HELL did we wind up with John McCain?

McAmnesty? McClimateFraud? This is our nominee?

Thomas Sowell observes the media fawning over John McCain (at least until Barack Obama showed up), and notes a historical parallel.

Mark Steyn observes that McCain could sure *sound* like a real Conservative, even when he wasn't, while Mitt Romney didn't sound like one, even though he was much closer to the real deal:
When a guy starts running for president, a few of us tend to hear the lyrics — what's he saying about the war, abortion, taxes. But a lot more people respond to the tune — how he's saying it.

That was part of the problem with Mitt's campaign: When the sheet music came rolling off the fax machine from the Romney press office, it looked great. Good policies on the economy, national security, social issues — all three legs of the Republican coalition. But, when Mitt put the sheet up on the stand and started to sing, it wasn't quite what the broader GOP electorate wanted to hear.

Mitt is a smart, talented, successful man, but he has a clean-cut mien, and he says "Golly!" quite a lot. I found that goofily endearing. When someone raised the old polygamy question about Mormons, Mitt could have snidely pointed out that, in contrast with certain former New York mayors and Arizona senators, he was the only candidate still on his first wife, but instead he just took Mrs. R's hand and said "Golly, I hate polygamy." I don't know whether I'd want to be married to someone who said "Golly!" quite that often, but that's Mitt: not a polygamist, but a gollygamist.

A decisive chunk of the Republican primary electorate didn't find this goofily endearing. When Mitt stood up and warbled, they didn't like his tune. They wanted something meaner and rawer and tougher, and there was John McCain....the defining McCain moment came back in the fall when he responded to Hillary Clinton's support for public funding for a Woodstock museum. If you're under 70 and have no idea what "Woodstock" is or why it would require its own museum, ask your grandpa. But McCain began by saying he was sure Mrs. Clinton was right and that it was a major "cultural and pharmaceutical event." Which is a cute line. And McCain wasn't done yet: "I wasn't there," he said of the 1969 music festival. "I was tied up at the time."
And that's the music a lot of Republican voters want to hear. For a certain percentage of voters, McCain is tonally a conservative, and that trumps the fact that a lot of his policies are profoundly unconservative. He won New Hampshire because if you stuck him in plaid he'd be a passable Beltway impersonation of the crusty, cranky, ornery Granite Stater. The facts are secondary that, on campaign finance, illegal immigration, Big Pharma and global warming, the notorious "maverick's" mavericity (maverickiness? maverectomy?) always boils down to something indistinguishable from the Democrat position.

No comments: