Tuesday, 4 November 2008

McCain: eight years too late?

Here's a good piece which looks at the campaign (assuming an Obama win...) and asks whether how the Republican campaign has gone is the fault of John McCain.

It makes a number of good points about McCain - points which serial-commenter Sam has made in the comments on previous posts.

These concern McCain's past incarnation as:
  • anti-establishment
  • anti-Republican
  • anti-conservative
  • pro-immigration reform
  • pro-media
  • pro-bipartisanship
But during the election, Obama's team have succeeded in tagging McCain as:
  • pro-Bush
  • too status quo
  • too conservative
  • anti-Hispanic
  • anti-media.
I've argued before that he was forced right by the media's love affair with Obama and was never going to win this election on the centre ground, meaning there was only one place he could go - right. And he did, with his VP pick, his attacks on Obama as a 'socialist' and his politics.

I'm not convinced it was a mistake to go right. But, if he loses, will the margin of defeat be any consolation? I doubt it.


The Watcher,  4 November 2008 at 16:44  

Your blog title is right. He is the right candidate 8 years too late. McCain lost out in 2000 because of vile rumours spread by the Bush campaign in the South Carolina Primary. The polls at the time showed that McCain would easily have beaten Gore and would have become the 43rd POTUS. Afghanistan would still have happened as a justified response to 9/11, but as McCain would not have had the Neocon holy trinity of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz anywhere near his administration there would have been no Iraq and America's standing in the World would be immeasurably higher today, (Blair might still have been PM though!)

The big loser tonight won't be McCain but moderate conservatism. People like Rush Limbaugh and Ann COulter never wanted McCain as the GOP's candidate, just see how quickly they'll shouting "I told you so!" Just like Labour after 1979 and the Tories after 1997, the GOP will lurch towards it' most extreme elements and will become dominated by the bible bashers and the gay haters. In doin so they will put themselves out of power for at least a decade until they come to their senses and put forward a Blair/Clinton/Cameron figure who can appeal beyond the core constituency. It would have been better for the GOP if it was someone like Romney or Huckabee who is about to be steamrollered by Obama tonight as they would realise that they need to be inclusive. I really like McCain and he deserves far better than to be the fall guy for Bush's disastrous Presidency.

Malc 4 November 2008 at 16:56  

The watcher,

Insightful comment. I think we've already seen some of what you suspect will happen post-election. McCain has been forced right, both by the media AND by the Republican party who wanted to get their core vote out and forget about snaring conservative Democrats.

And you are probably right that IF there was to be a steamroller tonight, it would have been better if a hard-right candidate was to take that beating.

If Hillary had been the Democrats candidate, would McCain have had such problems?

northbritain 4 November 2008 at 17:06  

Interesting argument about McCain going right.

The Daily Politics guests today argued the opposite; that McCain should have went to the centre but didn't and instead appeased the Republican right-wing base.

They also argued that Palin was a gamble that didn't pay-off, but I think everyone agrees with that!

That's what turned me off the Republicans anyway. The idea that an anti-Science pro-creationist nut comes anywhere near the U.S. Presidency fills me with dread.

I've predicted Obama win 369 - 169.

The Watcher,  4 November 2008 at 17:14  


I'm not so sure. The media would have loved Hilary almost as much as they love Obama. She wouldn't have been subjected to the nasty smears about being a Muslim, but nothing gets the bible belt's blood pressure up as much as the word "Clinton!" Hilary would have done very well among women and white working class males. She wouldn't have been able to galvanise the African-American vote in the south in states like Georgia and North Carolina. However, she would have had strong support in places like Ohio, Florida, West Virginia and Iowa so the outcome would still have been the same.

McCain is the only Republican candidate who could possibly have won this year. The mood in America has gone decisively in favour of the Democrats, because of Bush's mistakes in Iraq, Katrina, the deficit and the economy, we know from 1983 and 1997 what happens when the electorate turns on a party. It's to McCain's credit that despite all this he has managed to keep open a slim chance of winning.

Malc 4 November 2008 at 17:18  

the watcher,

I disagree about the media & Hillary. Remember the Primarie season? The smears weren't "Muslim" or "terrorist" but they were fairly vicious and had an enormous effect in turning people away from her.

But in the end, you are probably right. In the general, she'd have galvinised other areas that Obama didn't, and gotten the vote out to win too.

Malc 4 November 2008 at 17:20  


I've said before I think he was forced right. I think he could have challenged Obama in the centre, but ultimately it wouldn't have made any difference. I think the media have annointed Obama as their centre candidate, and whenever McCain speaks to the centre he has that shadow over him - "you're good... but you're not Obama."

Much easier for him to run to the right - where there is a hefty constituency ready to vote for anyone that isn't "liberal" - and get that vote out. It's what continues to divide America.

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