Problem #2: For the Republicans, a Weak Party and a Strong Candidate
Calling John McCain a “strong” candidate is, as are all things in 2008, relative. He is strong because he is the anti-Republican candidate in an anti-Republican year.
The year 2008 is a very bad year for Republicans. Some of that is the peril of being the party in power. Republicans held Congress for 12 years from 1994 to 2006. They have held the presidency for the past 8 years and 20 out of the past 28. There is a certain fatigue that comes with that, especially when times get difficult and the public is looking for someone to blame.
Add to that the fact that many Republicans got comfortable with power and forgot the fiscal responsibility that put them into power in the first place. President Bush’s low approval ratings and the unpopular war have also contributed to Republicans' problems with the electorate.
The Republican base is divided and disillusioned. The frustration that Republicans feel shows up in the paucity of donations to candidates for the fall. Normally, a Republican candidate can count on a large advantage in contributions. This year, John McCain will probably accept public financing while Barack Obama, flush with cash, will not (despite his promise to do so).
The Republican base has been frustrated by the big spending ways of Republicans in Congress. That frustration extends to President Bush because he failed to restrain it. President Bush has faithfully defended the country from attack in the post-911 world. For that, Republicans, as well as all Americans, owe him a debt of gratitude. However, President Bush did his part to divide the base. His nomination of Harriet Myers to the Supreme Court and his support for the amnesty bill caused great frustration and raised mistrust. The conservative base desperately needs someone with a clear conservative voice to unite them. Unfortunately, John McCain is not that man.
Most conservative Republicans are apathetic toward McCain, at best. His support for amnesty for illegal aliens (McCain-Kennedy) and campaign finance reform(?) (McCain-Feingold) are just part of his problem. He has jumped on the global warming bandwagon and supports cap-and-trade which has great potential to hurt the economy. His support for stem cell research makes many pro-lifers uneasy. McCain is far from the ideal candidate for Republicans. Still, by and large, conservative Republicans will vote for McCain because they simply have no choice. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention said it well:
“What I hear from people is, 'John McCain was not my first choice, John McCain was not my second choice, John McCain was not my third choice. However, I would rather have a third-rate fireman than a first-class arsonist.' And they view Obama as a first-class arsonist."
That will be in many conservatives’ minds this fall and will compel them to vote McCain, despite their misgivings.
As weak as McCain appears to be from a Republican standpoint, those very things make him a strong candidate in an anti-Republican year, especially against Barack Obama. His “maverick” reputation helps him with an electorate that, for whatever reason, does not want to vote Republican. Also, when compared to the radical views of Obama, McCain looks like a right-winger.
To McCain’s credit, he is a true patriot and will never sell out
To paraphrase Dick Morris; “In the Democrats you have a candidate that can’t win and a party that can’t lose. In the Republicans, you have a candidate that can’t lose and a party that can’t win.” Morris sees it as a toss-up but thinks that the election will not be close either way.
I agree and disagree with Morris on this problematic election. I do not believe the election will be especially close but I think the winner will be John McCain. I have a difficult time believing that the general public will turn the reins of the
the American public will not like it.
At least that is the way I see it. I certainly hope I am right.
--Submitted by B. Bryant