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"McCain: Follow the Money"

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McCain: Follow the Money

Copyright 2/2/2008 Zashagalka (Used by Permission, of Course!)

Why has McCain caught on so fast and so far? More important, can he win? Maybe he can win, but not for obvious reasons. In any case, electability is only half the reason for McCain’s meteoric rise. For blue blood fiscal conservatives, McCain is delicious. That faction of the Big Tent has long thought of social, movement conservatives as a bane of the party. McCain is also quite tasty for liberals that view him as completely vulnerable come November.

McCain’s rise has the full faith and credit of the D.C. Republican establishment. The ‘Gerald Ford’ wing of the Republican Party sees the Reagan Revolution exclusively through the lens of the rollback of top marginal taxes. They buy into the Revolution, but not for the same reasons as the Party base. For the base, Reagan was the start of a movement that transformed American politics in general, not just the tax code. Obama understands this and would love to tap into the same emotional current, if flowing in a different direction.

For the blue bloods, the lasting legacy of Reagan is that the Republican Party formed a Big Tent triad that placed them third of three. Movement conservatives dominate the base and National Security conservatives, especially in dangerous times, come close behind. Bush 43 has proven that fiscal conservatism can and has taken a back seat in the Party. Bush hasn’t seen a spending increase he didn’t like.

Then comes John McCain. To be sure, McCain is a social conservative on some issues like abortion and gun control (much less conservative on other issues like gay marriage and amnesty). That’s not the point. He takes things personally and holds grudges. Losing the 2000 nomination made him so angry at the movement conservative base of the Republican Party that he held high level talks with the Democrat Party about switching sides. As a result of that grudge, McCain has thrown several hard elbows at movement conservatives over the years, McCain- Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, and the Gang of 14 being prominent examples. McCain supporters pride themselves on saying that McCain is a solid conservative based on his lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 82.3. Fine. Before 2000, that rating was 88. Since 2000, that rating has fallen to 74 and in 2006 alone, to a mediocre 65.

McCain did not support Bush’s tax cuts, but that does not matter. Far from the Reagan debate about cutting 70% top bracket taxes in half, the current debate between parties is over 4% points, from 35% to 39%. No matter who wins in November, Reagan already won this particular war. McCain IS solid on controlling spending. So what. The point for establishment conservatives is to drive a wedge through the base without actually splintering it, without losing the election. The establishment is gaming that McCain’s attractions of Independents and Democrats turned off by the hopefully Clinton nominee will more than offset any loss of his base. However arrogant and galling 'where else do they have to go' might be, there is an element of depressing truth to it. This is a huge gamble, but the payoff, marginalizing the base and taking control of the Party, is seen as more than worth the risk. So, the mainstream ‘conservative’ commentators have been hamstringing candidates favorable to the base from the outset. The result is McCain, the 'anti-movement conservative' candidate.

For Democrats, McCain represents a win-win. First, they believe that the eventual Democrat nominee can beat him. He is a tainted candidate. He is tainted by his age. He is tainted by his political past (Keating Five). He is tainted by his disenchantment from his base. Most important, he is tainted by his temper. They will play him as much too volatile for an already dangerous world. Even if he were to actually win, Democrats anticipate being able to nudge McCain on all sorts of issues, from global warming to judge selections. All these are side issues.

The real reason Democrats salivate about McCain is the money. Ironically, the McCain-Feingold Free Speech Suppression Law has taught Democrats how to really play with their political dollars. George Soros and the whole MoveOn.org movement is a lovechild of the Free Speech Suppression Law. That brings a whole new analysis of money and politics. This is the essential calculation for Democrats in their media support of McCain as the Republican nominee: McCain might eventually get his base to hold their nose and vote for him, but can he get them to give him money? It’s about the money. Obama raised 38 million dollars last month to McCain’s 7 million. This despite the fact that it can be argued that McCain had more momentum during the same time frame. The Democrats are calculating that McCain cannot match them in contributions considering his dispirited base. Romney wouldn’t have this problem and even if he did, he has his own wallet. McCain is another story.

If you want to understand McCain’s rise, follow the money. Blue bloods longing to triangulate fiscal conservatism to a higher position within the Big Tent see him as the perfect tool to do so. Democrats are betting that McCain’s disenchantment from his base will cripple his fund-raising abilities. Both of these factions account for the recovery and widespread media attention that was vital to a campaign devoid of capital. Like all things political, both vested interests in McCain are calculating dollars.

In any case, only movement conservative Republicans cannot find something to cheer them up about this election. Democrats will nominate a liberal; that is a foregone conclusion. If Republicans nominate McCain, two of its three legs of support will be satisfied. Any which way, movement conservatives will be left out in the cold. For those that approve of this outcome, it is surely sweet that McCain is the New York Times’ pick for Republicans (although the Times would never support him in November). It is so sweet precisely because it is so galling for movement conservatives.

There are two caveats to this calculation. For blue bloods, their last gambit of this type, the nomination of Ford, led directly to Carter. Movement conservatives are already spinning that it might take a McCain to hand the election to a disastrous liberal so that conservatives can rebrand for 2012, ala the Ford – Carter – Reagan arc. The caveat for Democrats is that, while it appears that Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot for November, Democrats seem intent upon getting in the way. It might not be a popular assessment, but it is neither racist nor sexist to point out that race or sex might be a factor in November. The White House has been a close race for several election cycles. I think America has largely shaken off such biases. However, it’s not the majorities that count in close elections. If five percent of the vote is swayed by race or gender, how does that play out in a three percent election? McCain can win in spite of the Republican meltdown he will create. When it comes to the White House, Democrats can melt like no other.

McCain might just win in November.

Sigh.

~faith,

Timothy.

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Though I disagree with McCain on Iraq, he's relatively palatable to me, as well as many people who would really rather have Ron Paul in there but know it's not going to happen. We'd like to see the social conservatives get a life instead of trying to run everyone else's, but we also want sound fiscal policy, immigration enforcement, respect for the Constitution, and perhaps more than anything, we want the government to get the h-e-double hockeysticks out of our bedrooms, doctor's offices, computers, and cosmetics cases.

Being of a moderate/libertarian bent, I don't want a liberal in the WH any more than I do a social conservative. If McCain wins the nomination, I'm far more apt to vote for him than any of the Democratic contenders; if Huckabee or, God forbid, Romney gets in there, I'm afraid I'll have to vote for the Democrat. It's sad........here we are, a country of over 300 million people, and this is the best we can do for leadership??

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I have voted for McCain in every election that I've ever voted in-even back when I was a democrat. I am a big fan and will vote for him in November.

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I'm leaning heavily towards voting for Thompson in the primaries. He should still be on the Texas ballot, even though he withdrew. He withdrew AFTER placing himself on our ballot. (That way, come November, I can replace my Bush/Cheney '04 sticker with the one I just bought that says, "Don't blame me, I voted for Fred!")

I could see the rationale for Huck or Romney being the alternative to McCain. With both in the race, they will just divide the resistance.

I think, at this point, resistance is futile. Sigh.

McCain has a grudge against my core beliefs. He cannot represent me. I doubt I will vote for him in November, either.

His only chance of making things palatable is to nominate Fred for his VP. That's not so far out there. First, they are friends. Second, he will need a movement conservative from the South to shore up his fundamental weakness.

It comes down to this: McCain has made it a point to be a 'maverick' for those parts of the Big Tent that I agree with the most. He is the anti-movement candidate. What that means is that, so far as the GOP is concerned, he is the anti-ME candidate (and those like me).

I'm supposed to swallow hard and vote. How can I vote against myself?

It won't be nearly so easy for the base to suck it up and just vote. Not nearly so. I hope there are plenty of Democrats and Independents willing to jump their Party ship for McCain. He'll need them to win. His base support will be lukewarm, at best.

Worse.

His fund-raising will be lukewarm, at best.

I'm not sure if I CAN swallow hard enough to vote for him. Sending him money? No chance.

~faith,

Timothy.

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Sending him money? No chance.

You actually send candidates money?

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You actually send candidates money?

Money IS speech.

You might not have guessed this about me, but I'm a talker. . .

~faith,

Timothy.

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I noticed that, at least one time I loaded this page, the banner ad at the top was a McCain ad.

Funny.

~faith,

Timothy.

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Money IS speech.

You might not have guessed this about me, but I'm a talker. . .

~faith,

Timothy.

:up: Money IS speech.

Hey, I may have to consider voting for Thompson too since I also got my t-shirts in the mail a couple of days ago "Don't blame me, I voted for Thompson". ;);)

Oh, this will be hard for me too. I really don't trust McCain and I don't agree with many of his stances.

steph

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Yes, I think it is a great idea that all the anti McCain conservatives vote for Thompson, that will ensure that votes get taken away from McCain making it more likely we Democrats get our Clinton /Obama or Obama/Clinton in the White House! :yeah:

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You might not have guessed this about me, but I'm a talker. . .

Nah. Hadn't noticed it. ;)

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Yes, I think it is a great idea that all the anti McCain conservatives vote for Thompson, that will ensure that votes get taken away from McCain making it more likely we Democrats get our Clinton /Obama or Obama/Clinton in the White House! :yeah:

The paradigm of the left and right, sadly enough, still fools many....keep on buying into the illusion, and the usa will continue to plunge downwards.

Bill Clinton: John McCain and Hillary are 'very close'

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/01/25/bill-clinton-john-mccain-and-hillary-are-very-close/

PRESIDENT George Bush says Bill Clinton has become so close to his father that the Democratic ex-president is like a member of the family.

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2006/01/30/1138590441186.html?page=2

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Yes, I think it is a great idea that all the anti McCain conservatives vote for Thompson, that will ensure that votes get taken away from McCain making it more likely we Democrats get our Clinton /Obama or Obama/Clinton in the White House! :yeah:

McCain. . . Clinton. . . Obama. . .

From a conservative point of view, what's the difference?

I understand YOUR point: you'll win if Clinton or Obama defeats McCain.

MY POINT is that the selection of McCain as the nominee is itself a defeat for the Republican Party. After that, does it really matter what happens in the General?

McCain will sellout to the left early and often.

It would be MUCH better to at least be able to be the opposition Party as opposed to participants to the sellout.

Incidentally, THAT is why Clinton would be the much better candidate, from MY perspective. That will be the subject of my commentary next week. Clinton will be easy to oppose. Republicans will be able to rally the base and Independents consistently against a President Hillary. Anything and everything she advocates will be met with fierce opposition.

Obama, much less so.

GO HILLARY!

Obama was absolutely correct to bring up Reagan as his idea for a movement change. EVERYTHING you dislike about the GOP derives itself from the 'movement' conservatism founded by Reagan. Democrats can only dream of such a 'movement' Statesman. Hopefully, Hillary and her 'machine' will keep it that way.

~faith,

Timothy.

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