The McCain Staff Mutiny

July 10, 2007

Aides are departing John McCain’s struggling presidential campaign. For a while I believed McCain would be the eventual nominee on a last-man standing theory: Rudy would lose because he’s pro-choice, and Mitt would lose because he’s Mormon. But that seems to have been stupid of me.

(Who the hell can the Republicans actually nominate? I have no idea as they all seem terribly flawed. A Giuliani-Romney primary showdown will be too hilarious.)

Iraq is obviously a disaster and that has hurt McCain terribly (nice of the aides to depart today just in time to steal McCain’s thunder for his big Iraq speech from the Senate floor). I find the theory that Bush called McCain’s bluff on saying we needed the 20,000 additional troops rather interesting. This one was floating around the internets a while back, and I think I remember reading about it on Daily Kos. In any case, the idea is that McCain was calling for more troops last year in the expectation that the administration wouldn’t actually do that that and instead would go along with the Iraq Study Group. Then when Iraq inevitably continued to be a hellhole, McCain could blame others for not putting in the troops he said were necessary to fix things. He could use that criticism to springboard his campaign and set himself up rather well for the primaries — a Who Lost Iraq? strategy, if you will.

McCain hugs Bush

Of course, Bush called McCain’s bluff, the surge isn’t working out, and McCain’s campaign is being dragged down by the whole thing.

There’s also immigration, the political ramifications of which I probably haven’t adequately considered all along. The Republican base really, really hates them some illegal Mexicans. It’s the kind of thing northeastern liberals like me might never fully grasp, much like I can’t understand why red state people are so damn protective of their gun ownership rights.

Anyway, I started writing this post intending to conclude that my prediction — oft-repeated to family and friends in the last year or so — that McCain would be the Republican nominee looks pretty wrong right now. I’ve been in denial about this for a little while, often invoking the Kerry campaign’s back-from-the-dead nature in 2004; remember that Kerry fired his campaign manager in November 2003 . Hell, Howard Dean was looking strong for a time, so figuring out how things will happen this far in advance isn’t an exact science. And who knows, with Rick Davis back as campaign manager maybe McCain can rekindle some of his 2000 momentum yet. As long as he can scrape by financially, McCain may yet come out of this because, as I said, the GOP field doesn’t have a clear winner in it.

So I guess I will stubbornly cling to those previous claims, albeit with less certainty.

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Romney Won

May 3, 2007

I didn’t like any of the GOP candidates in the debate tonight (and there were ten of them!), but I think Mitt Romney turned in the most polished and “presidential” performance. He didn’t get tripped up or seem on the defensive, as Giuliani and McCain did at times, and the others are just background noise.


Obama Has Bigger Fish to Fry

April 11, 2007

The fact that Don Imus hurt the Rutgers basketball team’s feelings isn’t exactly at the top of the agenda for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and some blacks are upset about that, the Boston Globe reports.

The episode is the first test of how Obama — who is of mixed-race background — is handling the contentious issue of race in his presidential campaign. Even as polls have shown other Democrats attracting a large share of the black vote, Obama has steered clear of the kind of activism symbolized by Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who were both highly visible in the Imus episode but whose aggressiveness on race issues has alienated some white voters in the past.

But with Obama battling other Democrats — most notably Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York — for the support of black voters, the candidate’s reticence on the Imus issue set off alarms yesterday among some black activists who are anxious to see him more forcefully push for racial justice.

The Globe’s analysis sees this approach as a conscious choice by Obama to be different from Sharpton and Jackson, but I would suggest that it might just be that there are more important things happening in the world and in his campaign — for instance, the spat with John McCain over Iraq this morning.


Politico Still Living in the Past

March 15, 2007

Joe Lieberman is not a Democrat any more. Did they not get the memo on this one?

A Democratic attempt to set a March 2008 goal to begin withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq failed to win majority support in the Senate this afternoon as three Democrats – Sens. Joe Lieberman (Conn,), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) – crossed the aisle and voted with Republicans.

Lieberman, of course, lost the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary last year, only to come back to win the general election as an independent. It was in the papers, I’m pretty sure.

I tried commenting over there, but they don’t seem to want to accept a comment from me, hence my complaining over here.

ADDENDUM: Here’s how to recap the 50-48 vote properly.

Only one Republican, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, voted in favor of the measure. Two Democrats, Senator Mark Pryor or Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against it, as did Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut. Senators Tim Johnson, a Democrat from South Dakota who is ill, and John McCain, an Arizona Republican who is in Iowa, did not vote.

Don’t McCain’s people realize how bad this looks? That his absence on Iraq votes will be used by opponents to attack him?

UPDATE: Politico changed the text but it’s still not right. It now reads, “three Democrats – Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn,), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).” ID is not a party designation; it is part of Lieberman’s campaign rhetoric that he is a so-called “Independent Democrat.” In reality, his political party is called Connecticut for Lieberman. Anyway, the man is an independent, if we define that as anything other than an R or D, and not a Democrat.