Sunday, March 06, 2005

Candidate Profile Twelve: John McCain

NOTE: If you have landed here from a Google search for John McCain's resume, welcome. I'd also like to invite you to visit my new, improved blog here. Come join the conversation!...

Presidential Primaries 2008 has a post on John McCain's possible entry into the presidential derby; close friends are calling it a 50/50 proposition. There is much wisdom to be found in the comments to the post; I recommend you read them as well. One factor overshadows all others when talking about a McCain run: can the Senator appeal enough to the conservative base to last through the primaries? As Kevin Murphy posts, McCain would have a pretty good shot in a general election, given his appeal to centrists, moderates, and the press, but the primary season would be rough sledding indeed.

John Sidney McCain, III - official homepage, with a really weak biography - I suggest this one, instead

Although there are plenty of blogs commenting on McCain in 2008, I could find no unofficial McCain 2008 blogs of substance; suggestions are welcome

Resume: United States Navy pilot, 1958-1981; prisoner of war in Vietnam 1967-1973; recipient of the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Flying Cross; United States Congressman for Arizona, 1983-1986; United States Senator for Arizona, 1987 - present

John McCain is a genuine war hero; any man that survived 5 1/2 years of captivity, including one year of torture and two of solitary confinement, is deserving of our eternal gratitude. To have survived such an ordeal, and still kept one's sanity and ambition, is nothing short of a miracle. War heroes, of course, have a undeniable political appeal, and that certainly works in McCain's favor.

Also on the positive side of the ledger is McCain's real and quite apparent efforts to heal some of the ruffled feathers of Election 2000 with his unwavering support of President Bush's 2004 bid. Bush played rough with McCain in 2000, no doubt, and McCain seemed to crack a little under the pressure; to his credit, he swallowed his pride and took one for the team this time around, and that's bound to have earned him some political capital.

I consider McCain a heavyweight candidate for the above reasons, and for his enduring appeal to the press corps, who seem to genuinely enjoy McCain's somewhat overblown 'straight talk'. His appeal to the center means he would win some crossover voters from the Democratic side, particularly if the progressives begin to dominate the 2008 season.

Great, then, let's call it a day and hand McCain the nomination...that was easy, and thanks for dropping by...but hold on a second, there's a big elephant parading around the room, and it's not just the GOP symbol. Does McCain have the bonafides when it comes to the Republican base? The media has overplayed the 'Religious Right' as an entity, but as a description of a good chunk of solid Republicans, religious right (lower case) fits as well as any. John McCain will have a LOT of work to do to win this group over; he had a famous dustup with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell in 2000, and this has resulted in the perception, whether fair or not, that he is somewhat antagonistic to evangelicals.

In a perfect world, or at least my version of it, Republicans would not require litmus tests of our candidates, but campaign finance reform is going to haunt McCain, and, in my view, probably sink his candidacy (and I do think he'll run). Most conservatives, myself included, view McCain-Feingold as an unacceptable infringement upon First Amendment rights (and this past week's 'will-they-or-won't-they regulate the blogosphere' kerfuffle didn't win McCain any friends among the bloggers).

McCain's candidacy is going to well-covered; it's going to suck a lot of oxygen out of the room; and it's going to spark some pretty ugly skirmishes; ultimately, though, it's not going to succeed.


UPDATE 05/25/05 8:22 a.m. central: McCain's stance on the judicial deal has once again alienated the base.


UPDATE 06/15/05: McCain's making nice again, and I'm making an improbably wild swing in the odds and bumping him up big on the heels of the trial balloons he's beginning to float.


UPDATE 07/24/2005 10:56 p.m.:

see here...

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