Sunday, October 4, 2009

John McCain: Republican Kingmaker?

Somebody get me a stake and handful of garlic. The unprincipled, desiccated corpse of John McCain has risen from the grave to suck the life from our party once more. It’s not enough that he gave us Barack Obama by running one of the worst campaigns of all time, it’s not enough that he did immeasurable damage to the Constitution, it’s not enough that he’s rushed to give aid and comfort to the left every chance he had. . . now he’s filling the party with his own Manchurian McCandidates.

Before we get to what he’s doing now, let’s talk about how he became our nominee, because that has direct bearing on his current actions.

Most people don’t realize how John McCain became the nominee. Despite the fact that McCain could never win over the core conservative base that makes up the Republican Party (because he insults and betrays them at every turn) and despite the fact that he had little support among the party hierarchy (who were all Bush people who had feuded with McCain for years), McCain somehow came in at or near the top in state after state. How did he pull that off?

Some have suggested that McCain won because the alternatives stunk. Looking at the candidates most cynically, this seems an easy answer: Giuliani and Thompson had great credentials, but ran campaigns that defined the word “lackluster,” assuming you could even call what either ran “a campaign.” Romney, a man whose conservatism seemed of recent vintage, came across like a used car salesman rather than the professional businessman he was. Huckabee, the most magnetic speaker of the group, mixed a poisonous populism with hard-core religion into an unelectable potion. Ron Paul, while often standing on solid conservative ground, also likes to hang from lunatic rock when the mood strikes him. And Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo and the other dwarves ran single issue campaigns or just ran to get their names known for future runs.

So it sounds plausible that the problem was a poor field. . . McCain was merely the tallest dwarf. Yet, despite this rogues gallery of second raters, McCain could hardly be called the best choice among the group. Heck, let’s be honest, he probably wouldn’t have been the best choice among the Democrats.

Others have suggested that the party faithful simply wanted a moderate. But then why did they continue to clamor, then and now, for a conservative? Others have suggested that we just chose McCain because it was his turn (an irritating and stupid Republican tendency)? But that doesn’t hold water either. We moved beyond the idea the McCain was next in line when we chose faux-conservative George W. Bush over McCain in 2000.

So how did he do it? Back in 2000, McCain thought his time had come. There was no incumbent and the field was light. But out of the blue came Bush II and crushed McCain in a hard fought primary. What made the difference for Bush was not anything about Bush, who had little to offer personally, but the overwhelming support Bush drew from the party establishment. An idea was born. McCain spent the next eight years crossing the country campaigning for every Republican candidate he could find. He helped them raise money, he endorsed them, and he even showed up for photo-ops and campaign rallies. No race was too small.

The benefits of this became clear in 2007, when seemingly mysteriously, Republican after Republican, even solid conservatives, threw their support behind McCain. People you never would have suspect of supporting McCain suddenly raced to the podium to endorse him. In each state, McCain had cleverly cultivated relationships with the true power brokers, politicians like Charlie Crist in Florida -- whose endorsement of McCain essentially killed off the zombie campaign of Giuliani and finally put McCain into an unbeatable lead.

With all the right people assuring primary voters that McCain was the best choice (and vouching for his conservatism), and with the power brokers supporting him in caucus states, McCain had the support he needed to finish at or near the top in just enough states to put the nomination out of reach.

So what does this have to do with the present? Well, for one thing, this highlights the power that behind the scenes back scratching can have to frustrate the natural inclinations of the party. In other words, this proves that if you can get enough of the right people on your side, you can control the outcome of party processes like the nomination process even though you would normally be unacceptable to the majority of party voters.

Why does this matter? Because McCain has silently embarked on a campaign to fill the party with McCandidates. . . mini-me’s: he’s trying to get as many McCain-like candidates elected around the country as possible. As the Politico puts it, “McCain is working behind-the-scene to reshape the Republican Party in his own center-right image.”

How is he doing this? McCain is recruiting “moderate”/“pragmatist” candidates. But even more so, he's raising money for them, donating money to them, giving them access to his donor list, connecting them with political advisors, and endorsing them in primaries against conservative competitors, and he is taking sides in primaries for House races, Senate races, and even gubernatorial contests. Every one of these people will owe him. Thus, if he pulls this off, McCain will become the Republican king-maker for the next decade. He will control nominations and party leadership elections.

** Consider yourselves warned. **

At this point, McCain’s list of Manchurian McCandidates includes:

• Meg Whitman (eBay), who is running for the governorship of California. You may recall Whitman as McCain’s presidential campaign co-chair, and as a supporter of racist, Marxist Van Jones, whom she described as doing “a marvelous job… I’m a huge fan of his. He is very bright, very articulate, very passionate. I think he is exactly right.”

• Gov. Charlie Crist (Fla.), who is running for Senate in Florida in 2010.

• Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), who is seeking the Senate seat vacated by McCain BFF Barack Obama.

• Vaughn Ward (Ida.), who ran McCain’s Nevada campaign, is now running in Idaho for Congress.

• Van Tran (Ca.), who is running in Orange County, California for Congress.

• Rep. Jerry Moran (KS), who is running for the US Senate in Kansas.
There are more -- possibly as many as forty, but I have not been able to find out who they are yet. This is also not to say that these may not be good candidates, that remains to be seen. But the fact is that McCain is building an army of McCandidates who “owe” him and that could let him control the nomination process and the leadership process. That alone makes this association too dangerous to accept.

Indeed, while I too argue for reform of the Republican Party, as you’ve all read, McCain’s proposed reformed clearly would take the party in the wrong direction. Like the other RINOs, e.g. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Lindsey Graham, McCain mistakenly believes that the party must move left to attract voters (not to mention that he seems to suffer from a reflexive need to please his opponents). Yet, as you’ve all seen, the public actually lies to the right of most recent Republican policies.

The problem with the party is not that it is too conservative. The problem with the party is that it is inconsistent about its conservatism, that it lacks balance between the conservative factions, and that its leaders and elected members have no clue how to apply conservative principles to create solutions nor do they know how to explain those principles to the public without sounding like they are out of touch with reality.

If McCain builds his army of McCandidates, you can be certain that our party will be lost in the RINO wilderness for years.

I repeat, consider yourselves warned.


Anonymous said...

Worst fact of all - his efforts are being treated approvingly by libs and dems. He fits the model that dems like; genial old duffers who make good concession speeches after clumsy campaigns.

AndrewPrice said...

Absolutely right. He is absolutely the kind of Republican the left likes -- happy losers. The Politico article was glowing about how great this whole thing is. I just hope people are paying attention to this and don't let this happen.

Writer X said...

I'd like to think that the growing groundswell of discontent that's building across the country is on to McCain. But your post should still set off alarm bells. And I'm always very leary of anything I read in Politico, especially after they fawned over Meghan McCain, his daughter, who is as dumb as a box of rocks. (Quite literally. I know several of her former high school teachers.)

McCain is another politician who is so completely disconnected. He is not popular here in AZ at all; however, he continues to get re-elected because no one ever runs against him. It's frustrating. It's also frustrating to see him behave like a kid in a candy shop--reshaping the Republican Party in his own delusional image.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X,

I agree that this is very frustrating. If he pulls this off, he will destroy the party for a decade, because politics is as much about who "owes" you as it is about what you believe.

Sadly, I'm not sure people would be on to this because it's being done so quietly.

I never have understood how he hangs on in Arizona, but I figured it had something to do with people not running against him. Plus, it's very difficult to get rid of an incumbent.

I have no respect for his daughter either. She parrots his more leftish thought and she does so incompetently.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Thanks, I wasn't depressed enough. I'd seen some of the trends you mentioned, but I certainly hadn't gone in-depth the way you have. Good article, fair warning!

StanH said...

I like what you’re saying Andrew …but! I’m with WriterX I think the electorate is paying attention in ways Washington wishes weren’t the case. This conservative movement in this country is real and we’re not in the mood to accept any wooden nickels (John McCain). Michael Steele needs to move immediately to close all Republican primaries. Mischief from liberal groups like ACORN and SEIU cannot be underestimated on the outcome in close elections. In ’79 the power brokers in the Republican party did everything that they could to keep Reagan out, we know the results. I do business all over the country, and I’m hearing the same anger at Washington in general. I believe in my eternal optimism, 2010 is going to be brutal on Washington, keep the faith, and as you say Andrew, keep your eyes open.

Tennessee Jed said...

geez, Andrew thanks a bunch. I'm not sure what to do about it other than try and get the loudest voices in the alternative media to read your post and help stop it. In the immortal words of Barney Pfife, "nip it Andy, nip it in the bud."

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Glad I made your day. :-(

Stan, I sincerely hope that you're right. I feel it as well that people "are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore." I just hope that something like this doesn't trip them up -- politicians have many tricks up their sleeves and it's unnerving that he's being doing this so quietly.

I like your ideas, by the way. I think we should close the primaries and (frankly) I'd like to be done with the caucuses.

(P.S. I do share your optimism about the people, I just figure it's worth putting out the warning.)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I don't know what to do about it either except to tell people and hope that they tell people and that soon enough people start paying attention.

Maybe if these guys know that associating with McCain is seen as a bad thing by party voters, they won't feel that they owe him anything?

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

Good stuff Andrew. GRRRRR!!! I've got so much to say.

I read that Politico article, and I noticed another gem of a quote from Mark Kirk: "I actually love service in the House, whether it’s in the minority or not." Happy loser indeed. Keep in mind, folks, that this happy loser is also one of the eight House Republicans who voted for "Cap and Trade" back in June. I hope Illinois remembers that.

Writer X: I understand your frustration with McCain. We've had the same problem here in Pennsylvania for years with Arlen Specter. He was just too tough to beat. And what do we do, vote for the Democrat? Well, this year finally is going to be different, I think. Specter may even go down in the primary. Actually, is there a possibility of the Democrat winning in Arizona? Are people so sick of this guy that they'd cross over to the other side?

This story may also grow some legs in talk radio. I heard both Rush and Mark Levin mention the Politico article last week. Mark was pissed. He actually was calling for people in Arizona to vote Democrat. There's an awful lot of McCain hatred out there. Maybe he won't ultimately succeed with his plan, MY FRIENDS.

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, Good point on Kirk being one of the eight. That's the kind of information that we may need to collect to show people why these guys cannot be trusted. I know that McCain has endorsed Kirk already over a more conservative candidate.

The Politico article also had typical quotes from Lindsey Graham about McCain trying to make the party appeal to a broader base, i.e. leftist.

I didn't know that Levin or Rush had talked about this, but I'm glad to hear it. I hope Levin and Rush keep up the heat and point out who these guys are so that the voters know who they need to watch out for.

Writer X said...

Pittsburgh, I think there is a slim possibility that a Democrat could beat McCain, even in Arizona. However, it would need to be a moderate Democrat as Arizona is still largely conservative. Frankly, a moderate Democrat is no different than McCain (and hopefully doesn't say "my friends" ad nauseum.) That said, I think people in Arizona (judging by the state polls) are so stunned by Obama's performance that I don't think any Democrat has a chance in AZ in the 2010 election. You may have already noticed that McCain spends very little time in AZ simply because his own constituents find him irritating. He did two townhalls in August and they did not exactly go over very well. The retired people in Sun City read him the riot act. As usual, he acted like a bumbling fool.

patti said...

all i kept thinking while reading this was HOLY SMOKES. and now i'm feeling sick. time to put a stop to his sneaky creepiness.

even his eyes seem to follow me.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, I had the same feeling when I first learned about this.

MegaTroll said...

Why can't he just go into retirement like he's supposed to? He had his run, he failed. Time to retire and go live in all his homes.

patti said...


AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Patti!

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