Saturday, March 25, 2006

Thoughts on McCain

The Arizona Senator is probably in as powerful position as he could be. He occupies a unique position in that he holds a lot of Republican support because, well, because he is a Republican and he gets considerable popular support from Democrats and Independents because he isn't afraid of taking pot-shots at the party establishment. The trouble is that if he were elected President, he would be the party establishment. He would no longer be able to snipe at the administration or party leadership who he would need in order to get anything done. At this point his support on the left side of the aisle is likely to fade. Add to this fading support from the left the fact that his support on the right lacks a lot of depth, and you see a situation where McCain actually has more political power as long as he isn't in the White House.

In order for McCain to build a sturdy base of support that can weather his entering the position he has so often criticized, he would need to build support in the Republican base. I believe that any large effort aimed at wooing the more conservative elements would further alienate him from the more liberal elements that have represented a good portion of his popularity. He would find himself no longer the media darling he is now. I believe his popular support would erode very quickly upon taking office as President.

I believe that Rudy Giuliani has a better shot of maintaining his political support after an election and would also draw a large number of cross-over votes from moderate Democrats. Recent polls show him beating Hillary in head to head polls but it is still early. Neither candidate is actively campaigning and neither has managed to put their foot in their mouth so far, though Hillary might have recently come close with her Jesus comments.

My basic gut instinct is that I can't take a McCain run for President seriously. He will be 70 years old this August while Rudy will be 62 in May. Rudy has a track record of being a popular executive who was cool and effective in a crisis. McCain in public office is untested in both that position and condition but overall, I believe it will be a melting away of his pre-election support that would make him ineffective. His approval ratings in his first time might rival Bush's second term numbers if he is unable to keep the moderate Democrats in the fold. That might be hard to do when he is no longer sniping at fellow Republicans and targets the opposition Democrats instead.

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