Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Clinton and McCain

Lately I have read a flurry of opinions that Hillary will never be president. Big Lizards says it’s time for Hillary to move on. Arianna Huffington is anti-Hillary, as are Andrew Sullivan and Molly Ivins. Democrats don’t like her much.

I still think she is the one to beat, simply because she has the organization and fund raising might. But three years is a long time and anything could happen.

John Hinderaker thinks Hillary can’t win. In that post he also writes some positive words about John McCain:

Yesterday, I heard John McCain on Michael Medved's radio show. It was a reminder of how good McCain can be. And how conservative: the first caller said that McCain is regarded as a moderate Republican, and asked, what is the difference between a moderate Republican and a moderate Democrat? McCain responded, "Well, first of all, I'm a conservative. I have a lifetime rating of 82% from the American Conservative Union, and the only reason it isn't higher is because a lot of conservatives disagree with me on campaign finance reform. So, I'm a proud conservative."

Later, a caller asked McCain whether he was critical of President Bush's telephoning the anti-abortion demonstrators in Washington. McCain said not at all; this was a tradition that goes back to President Reagan. McCain said that he has a 27-year pro-life voting record. He was unapologetic and unequivocal.

McCain's age is an issue, but not an insurmountable one if he comes across as mentally and physically vigorous in three years, as I'm pretty sure he will. We and other conservatives have parted company with McCain on several important issues, most notably taxes and regulation of political speech. But he will be a powerhouse Presidential candidate, and it may not take too much to win over conservative Republicans like me. Especially if the choice comes down to McCain or a Democrat like Hillary Clinton, whom I'm pretty sure McCain would trounce.

This is depressing because it's a sign of how the Republican base will rally around McCain. Their loathing of Hillary Clinton is so great that they will easily forget his weaknesses. His popularity with the media, swing voters and the few moderate Democrats left makes him electorally attractive. He’d wipe out any Democrat. The Republicans, who care about power more than individual rights, will gladly back a sure winner.

I’ve written about McCain here. In a Clinton-McCain contest I’d vote for the Democrat in a hearbeat. A return to gridlock would remind Republicans that they used to stand for smaller government, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I fear I am in a small, small minority among registered Republicans.

I think the next President of the United States will be a man who exhorts Americans to “sacrifice for a cause greater than self-interest.” And he means it. He has suffered greatly for America. He’ll make sure the rest of us suffer, too.


softwareNerd said...

My crude understanding of Presidential elections is that:

1) It's usually going to be close between the Democrats and Republicans. So, victories are based on small margins (a few percent moving one way or the other)

2) There are (very roughly) three major groups that matter:
a) The hard-core Republicans [who will always vote that way, but may not go to the polls for a McCain type]
b) The hard-core Democrats [who will always vote that way unless they vote a protest-vote for Nader or simply stay away]
c) People who can be swayed to vote against their normal pattern.

The ideal candidate motivates their own base just enough to get them to vote, but with subtle promises and a cheerful personality that appeals to the swing voters and makes the opposition's base stay home.

The more a candidate openly promises stuff to their own base, the more they risk bringing out the other side -- in protest, and the more they risk turning off the swing voters.

On his own, McCain cannot convince the Republican base (at the margins) to come out and vote for him. If Hillary stands against him, she might bring out his base, in protest. So, a Hillary candidacy does make a McCain (or Guliani) run more likely.

Like you, if this were to happen, I'll find myself voting for Hillary. Sadly, I know many friends who think McCain or Guliani are the lesser evil.

The bottom line is that a Hillary candidacy makes possible a more middle-of-road Republican candidacy. That could be McCain; but, the Republican king-makers might conjure up a surprise moderate who is better than Hillary.

Myrhaf said...

Interesting thoughts. My sheer speculation is that a McCain-Clinton election would be the biggest margin win since Reagan crushed Mondale in '84. But as Lorie Byrd at Polipundit notes, wait until the media turn against McCain and start demonizing him.

We'll see. Politics is a never ending show.

Blair said...

As distastful as it is, and I can't predict yet who I'll vote for, my pattern is and has been to vote 'against' any Republican [conservative] precisely because of the religious right.
As the left continues to self-implode, the right gains in the culture by default. Sad indeed.

EdMcGon said...

I'd vote for Jack Abramoff before Hillary. At least Jack admits he's a crook!