Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 28, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

McCAIN vs. THE BASE....The conservosphere is up in arms over John Fund's report in the Wall Street Journal that John McCain would be squishy on conservative appointments to the Supreme Court:

More recently, Mr. McCain has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito, because "he wore his conservatism on his sleeve."

Over at The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez has Fund's back:

For what it's worth, I've been told the same thing John F. reported — that at a private meeting McCain said he would appoint justices like Roberts, but not like Alito — who wears his conservatism on his sleeve. The report of the comment — first in D.C. conservative circles and now in the WSJ — has set off alarm bells with conservatives who've worked on the judicial issues, for obvious reasons. We already got Alito despite a president who wanted to go in another direction. This time, folks feel like they're being warned beforehand.

McCain's team, so far, seems to have issued only a nondenial denial. But it doesn't really answer the question. Sure, McCain supported Alito's nomination once Bush sent it to the Senate, but has he privately told conservative audiences that he wouldn't have nominated a guy like Alito in the first place? Inquiring right-wing minds want to know.

POSTSCRIPT: This, by the way, is one of the reasons I'm not nearly as nervous about a Hillary-McCain contest as some people. Sure, McCain might be able to peel off some independents. But more than any of the other Republican candidates, he's also going to have to reassure the conservative base. This is obviously a balancing act that every presidential candidate has to go through, but McCain has it much worse than most. Once the right-wing pandering gets into full swing — and it will — is he really going to be able to hang on to independents too?

Kevin Drum 2:13 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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I work with a bunch of older volunteers at our local library (age 70 plus). They are all Republicans and all convinced that McCain is just too old to be president. Considering that older voters turn up more than younger voters, this could hinder McCain as well. I know these volunteers would have to be dead before they didn't find a way to drag themselves to the polls.

Posted by: Teresa on January 28, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't McCain have an illegitimate gay black welfare-recipient Islamic daughter from outer space?

What?

Posted by: craigie on January 28, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'll grant that McCain might have trouble with the base, but I'd still prefer Romney. He'll most certainly have problems with the evangelicals, who think he's going to Hell for being a culty Mormon. And, with his very, very politically motivated flip-flops and his history of being, or at least appearing, socially liberal, I think he also might have some problems with the base.

Posted by: Mike D on January 28, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives *and* independents will walk 10 miles in the snow to vote against Hillary, even for McCain. She has a vajayjay, you know.

Posted by: Zippy on January 28, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Facing a choice between Hillary and McCain repubs and indies will turn out in droves for McCain period.

Posted by: markg8 on January 28, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Sure, McCain might be able to peel off some independents. But more than any of the other Republican candidates, he's also going to have to reassure the conservative base."

"More than any of the other Republican candidates"??????

Uh - says you!

No - past the media filter; regular republican voters would have to be much more "assured" of a Giulianni social liberal or Romney (up until last night) social liberal then of a McCain!

Why do you think their not voting for them??

Posted by: Fitz on January 28, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think you've got it dead wrong. Just as Hillary would not need to pander to the left, but move to the center in her appeals, McCain would do the same. Conservatives -- for whom the prospect of Hillary in the West Wing is the one uniting factor in their lives -- would still come out to vote for McCain as by far the lesser of two evils. Centrists independents and disaffected Democrats could be tempted to vote for the "moderate," "maverick" McCain. Hillary would be the weakest candidate the Dems could put up against McCain. McCain would be the strongest Rep running. But I also don't go along with the conventional wisdom that Romney would be easy to beat. Since he has no core convictions (kind of like Hillary) he could backtrack on all his conservative pandering and move to the center, too.

Posted by: Frappo on January 28, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

I don't buy into the concept that McCain, or anyone else, is going to have trouble getting the base out.

Social conservatives hate Democrats -- would open concentration camps for Democrats if they could. They may not like McCain, but they will do what they can to make sure Clinton does not get elected.

Underestimating wingnuts is how Bush got two terms. making sure this doesn't happen again is how we can give Bush a life term.

Posted by: Dicksknee on January 28, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

This, by the way, is one of the reasons I'm not nearly as nervous about a Hillary-McCain contest as some people. Sure, McCain might be able to peel off some independents. But more than any of the other Republican candidates, he's also going to have to reassure the conservative base.

Not if he's up against Hillary, he won't. She'll galvanize the conservative base all by herself.

Posted by: DaveWoo on January 28, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

duh, yes, of course he'll keep independents despite naked appeals to the base. do you think for *one second* the press will stop giving him a tongue bath all the way into the white house? no one will take Mr. "Bomb Iran"'s rhetoric seriously- "well, Wolf, I think McCain is the sort of moderate independent maverick who can break with the past. Unlike those Democratic partisans, the Clintons, who are very shrill about appealing to their liberal base."

Posted by: jim on January 28, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

At the end of the day, nothing is scarier to the base than another President Clinton. Don't assume any more voter rationality than you need to -- these are Republicans we're talking about. They'll gleefully sacrifice their principles for expediency.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on January 28, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

he's also going to have to reassure the conservative base.,?i>

needing to vote against Hillary Fucking Clinton will reassure the conservative base.

Posted by: cleek on January 28, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Once the right-wing pandering gets into full swing — and it will — is he really going to be able to hang on to independents too?"

Would not the "pandering gets into full swing" during the primary and not the general. As one would expect it too?

No - it is "run right (or left) in the primaries AND THEN run to center for the general."

That’s the way it always goes.

General assurances of "judges who judge & not legislate" along with "family values" will be enough to assuage conservatives.

Posted by: Fitz on January 28, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hilary is toast. Her campaign is in the ditch. Check out Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Obama -

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/22882751#22882751

Posted by: cajun on January 28, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Social conservatives hate Democrats -- would open concentration camps for Democrats if they could.

This is quite correct. The likes of Michael Savage have a very large listener base, and the Dems pretend that such people do not exist. The Dems do so at their own peril.

Posted by: gregor on January 28, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is on record about his Supreme Court choice
(via the Daily Women's Health Policy Report):

On the issue of appointments to the Supreme Court, McCain mentioned that Sam Brownback would play an advisory role in helping decide who he should nominate for the Supreme Court. As models of who he would select, John McCain pointed to Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia....

I wonder why this is being attacked by party aparachiks like Fund and Lopez? Brownback is a certifiable christo-conservative loon.


Posted by: Mike on January 28, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

The Fitz has it right. Plus McCain can give an aura of moderateness bacause of some domestic policy moderate stands, but hold onto the R base by being rabidly militarist. And then depending on whom he has to run against he has the CDS swamp fever working to turn out the base.

Posted by: bigTom on January 28, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Once the right-wing pandering gets into full swing — and it will — is he really going to be able to hang on to independents too? - Kevin

I think you've got it dead wrong. Just as Hillary would not need to pander to the left, but move to the center in her appeals, McCain would do the same. - Frappo

I agree that McCain *would benefit* from appealing to the center, holding onto the independent voters and not worrying about the fringe, but he's got this weird jingoistic streak that he just can't seem to put down and he will do it all on his own and crash big time. So Kevin is right, IMO.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 28, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I think both sides in this debate are right, as well as wrong. McCain won't have to pander to the right wing-- he's already done that and they'll happily coalesce behind him to beat a Defeatocrat. But, if it's Hillary, there's plenty of ammo against McCain to bash him with over and over. The MSM won't enjoy it, but they'll follow their instincts and go with the juicy story, even if it slowly scratches the sheen off St. John. McCain is a mean old man with scary right-wing ideas. It'll be ugly, but she can still pull it off.

Posted by: NHCt on January 28, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

As a few commenters above pointed out: any politician will pander to their base to get nominated, then moderate their views for the general. When in the past has this been an issue? There is unlikely to be direct contradiction of statements, so there won't be a story (unless you caqn imagine the press printing a story with nuance and rationality!).

Active, primary voters, in the general, will ONLY vote for their party, regardless. The average low-information voter in the general HAS NO IDEA what policies their candidate supports. This is something that pundits never address - while writers speculate how candidates' statements on, say, marginal tax rates or single-payer insurance plans will affect the horserace, voters can't find the US on a map.

Posted by: luci on January 28, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

The reason this is so funny is that there is no difference, practically speaking, between Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Roberts is an unltrarightwing conservative jurist whose portolio allowed him to be portrayed as a moderate at confirmation time (with help from some liberal senators) and Alito not so much; but practically speaking you'll see the two of them voting on the same side of every case from now to forever.

For the conservatives to get upset at McCain's statement speaks not only to a misunderstanding of Justice Roberts' conservative credentials but to the conservatives' strange fear of McCain.

I still don't understand what they're frightened of. McCain is a really really rightwing guy. He passed a couple of bills that seemed moderate, but 98% of McCain is as conservative as anybody. As evidenced by his support for John Roberts!

Can anyone tell me: what bothers conservatives about McCain?

Posted by: Tom Burka on January 28, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

I forgot to mention - Hillary or Obama will beat McCain (but have more trouble against Romney). But McCain won't lose because of his loony, far-right political positions, he'll lose because he IS a loon. Middle swing voters choose on personality, appearance, and perceived character, not issues. They don't have a clue about issues. They're apolitical. (And while voting on personality and character isn't the best heuristic to use, it's also not so bad).

But McCain's got a loony personality - it'll show in debates. The longer he is in front of cameras, the more incompetent and screwy he will appear. He really does have a screw loose. He's no threat.

Posted by: luci on January 28, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "But more than any of the other Republican candidates, he's also going to have to reassure the conservative base."

McCain will reassure the conservative base by choosing Mike Huckabee as his candidate for Vice President. McCain/Huckabee will not win the election, but they'll get close enough to steal it, as the Republicans did in 2000 and 2004.

And in January 2009, following the third stolen Presidential election in a row, President John McCain and Vice President Mike Huckabee will be sworn in to office.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 28, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

As other people have pointed out, in a race against Hillary he will definitely go to the center. Probably far-far into the center, ignoring the right-wing-base, in a hope of getting any mildly-anti-Hillary libertarians. The conservatives won't have a choice but to vote for him or risk a Hillary win.


Posted by: kis on January 28, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

I heard a self-identified Republican caller (middle aged female) from Florida on C-SPAN yesterday, say she could not vote for McCain because of his stand to provide 'amnesty' to immigrants. She said McCain made her out to be a racist for her view that undocumented immigrants should be deported. Then she said her parents immigrated from Germany the right way.

Posted by: Brojo on January 28, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

It wouldn't be a McCain/Hillary contest. It would be a McCain/Clinton contest.

There is a very, very big difference, and I hope more Democrats recognize this.

Posted by: cazart on January 28, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK
one of the reasons I'm not nearly as nervous about a Hillary-McCain contest as some people. - Kevin

I agree. I despise Clinton, but I have to admit, any Democrat would beat McCain. He'll make many more juvenile remarks like "100 years in Iraq" and "bomb bomb Iran", which will sink him.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 28, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Just expanding on casart's comment above: I don't think it's an issue whether McCain can energize the base by himself. Hillary and Bill will do it for them. The Republicans are licking their chops at the prospect of a Clinton nomination, because when it comes down to Obama or Clinton, they'd much rather have Clinton, who raises the base for them, whereas Obama really doesn't. This is something that I think the national head-to-head numbers obscure.

Posted by: Jack on January 28, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Every single Republican candidate is wedded to one and only one economic solution --tax cuts for the rich. If tax cuts for the rich were the solution to today's problems we wouldn't have any problems. We have been there and done that.

None of the Republicans (McCain least of all) is positioned to provide any answer to the real problem which is the loss of good, high paying jobs in America. Solving that problem will probably require America focus on infrastructure restoration and energy independence. Have you heard any plans on how any of the Republicans are going to address infrastructure and energy independence? Me neither. All I have heard is that making the Bush tax cuts permanent due to expire in 2010 will make all things better. Total Bush Shit.

McCain is the worst of the Republicans on economic issues. He will be easy to beat.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 28, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

As models of who he would select, John McCain pointed to Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia....

But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito

We have a McCain flip-flop then. Hillary and Obama should be taking notes.

Posted by: JS on January 28, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

My conservative, ditto-head Mom who has never skipped a vote says she'll skip this one if it's McCain/Clinton. And she'll vote for Obama if it's McCain/Obama.

Of course, by the election she'll have listened to Rush some more.

Posted by: Lindata on January 28, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is a really really rightwing guy. He passed a couple of bills that seemed moderate, but 98% of McCain is as conservative as anybody. As evidenced by his support for John Roberts!

Can anyone tell me: what bothers conservatives about McCain?

Exactly. I don't get it, either.

Posted by: Lucy on January 28, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Once the right-wing pandering gets into full swing — and it will — is he really going to be able to hang on to independents too?"

With the corporatocracy-owned mass media in the tank for McPain, of course he'll win (if he's their nominee, which remains to be seen). They'll lie cheat and steal his way to the WH, and lie cheat and steal Hillary's (or Obama's -- no difference at all to the MSM at that point) way to at least a 1.5% loss, which will then be portrayed as a landslide win for the Rethug. Have you really been paying no attention at all?

"Can anyone tell me: what bothers conservatives about McCain?"
Posted by: Tom Burka on January 28, 2008 at 3:36 PM

I could be wrong about this, bcs there's only so much I can take of reichwing sites at any one sitting, but their main complaints seem to boil down to three things.
1: "illegals." McCain was one of the most visible supporters of immigration reform that the wingnuts view as "amnesty." On this one issue, the rank and file rage at perceived (and actual) job loss, and perceived (and actual) taxpayer expenditures going to support the "illegals," is far greater than the delight of the business wing in having low-cost and uncomplaining serfs ready to hand. (Those "actual"s are because the studies that demonstrate the contributions of undocumented labor to the overall economy carefully elide who gets the benefits and who pays the costs. The Rethugs are not wrong in noticing they're getting screwed on this, and we allow our prescribed policies to ignore this at our peril. Google "Eliot Spitzer" and "drivers' licenses.")
2: Campaign Finance Reform. Ths is ironic, since AFAIK, the actual workings of the "reform"s have been to favor the Rethugs even more than they already were favored under the old system, and work against Dem's even more. The fact that the political $ flow is going the opposite of the usual way is not a function of CFR, but of the complete and total FUBAR that the CheneyBush cabal has been for the past seven years. Even the most strongly Rethug of corporate masters doesn't appreciate seeing the dollar lose, what, 30, 40% of its value? or the utter loathing of all things American by people who used to at least like, if not respect, us, and either way, buy our goods and services.
3: Because Rethugs are good little authoritarians, and they were previously ordered to loathe and scorn McCain. It started (correction: became an issue -- it began well before) in the 2000 campaign, and came to fruition in South Carolina, with whispering campaigns that claimed that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black daughter (the McCains have an adopted daughter from Bangla Desh), and had both betrayed his country and gone crazy during his capture and imprisonment by the North Vietnamese (he famously refused an offer of earlier release than other POWs, all tortured, that the NV had made because he was the son of a high-ranking Admiral). I guess one does have to appreciate that even the Rethug brainwashing can run up against limits, when some of the very same powers-that-be who only four years ago said "hate this man" are now trying to say, "but now we must support him."
These cannot be easy times to be a wingnut; my heart does go out to them, the poor dears. Or is it supposed to be, "bless their hearts"?

Posted by: smartalek on January 28, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know ...

Conservatives are good at frothing at the mouth whenever they don't get their way, which is quite often, but they sure do have a habit of showing up to the polls and voting.

Don't underestimate their hatred of Clinton. I bet it will trump their hatred of McCain and they know that McCain beats Clinton easily in the general.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on January 28, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's amusing the way everyone takes as an article of faith that the entire Republican electorate will take to the steets in droves to vote against Hillary. There's a group within the Repunblican Party that lives to hate the Clintons. But they hardly represent the mass of Republican voters. I'm not saying that Republicans will vote for Hillary in significant numbers (although there could be an appreciable number of moderate Republican women who support her) but where is the indicator that Republican voters are sitting around waiting to refight the battles of the 90s? Everyone keeps citing one poll that says something like 48 percent of voters will never vote for her. Well guess what? 48 percent of voters will never vote, period. People are extrapoalting "would never vote for her" to mean "would be energized to see her defeated." Those are two very different things, particularly when the primaaries have shown that Republicans are much less motivated to vote than Democrats. After the way this election season has gone, it's a little bit disingenuous to cling to one poll, now months old, and insist that it is the unvarnished truth. Is there any other poll result that is viewed with such an air of infallibility?

Just because you hear pundits repeating this stuff about Hillary endlessly doesn't make it true. And it certainly hasn't risen to the level of certitude that it should just be repeated as accepted fact, the way so many Obama supporters use it.

Posted by: ChrisO on January 28, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it is likely that the conservatives will demand penance from McCain once he is the nomines and about to face Hillary or Obama. They will keep their eye on the ball.

Posted by: brian on January 28, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Can anyone tell me: what bothers conservatives about McCain?

Exactly. I don't get it, either."

Can anyone tell me: what sends conservatives into a rabid froth about Clinton?

Exactly. I don't get it, either

Posted by: CT on January 28, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

"There's a group within the Repunblican Party that lives to hate the Clintons. But they hardly represent the mass of Republican voters."

Hope so. Anyway, it's probably more important how those folks who are independents or evangelicals feel. If the indy's don't hate her, it doesn't much matter if all the Republicans do. On the other hand, if the evangelicals hate here, they vote in numbers, and swell the number of Republicans. Right now, the number of people who say they are Republicans is at low ebb.

Posted by: David in NY on January 28, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

I bet it will trump their hatred of McCain and they know that McCain beats Clinton easily in the general.

Where on Earth do you get that from? No way that any Republican, particularly a raving old man Republican who's pro-war and anti-economy, wins the general this year, particularly "easily." Look, for example, at the latest Rasmussen poll:

Friday, January 25, 2008
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds New York Senator Hillary Clinton with a two-point advantage over Arizona Senator John McCain in the race for the White House. It’s Clinton 47% McCain 45%.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/john_mccain_match_ups/election_2008_mccain_vs_clinton_and_obama

Posted by: Stefan on January 28, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

McCain hate goes back to his role in dissing those upstanding patriots that were making a living trumpeting the myth of US POWs left rotting in NVA jungle camps, followed by his trip to Vietnam, and followed more recently by his dissing of those that want to torture anyone who might or might not be a terrorist - sort of like they did in Salem MA a few centuries ago. McCain sensibly wants to close Gitmo, if only to help clear our record; Romney wants to expand Gitmo, presumably to facilitate more torture.

Posted by: gene on January 28, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

someone upthread claimed indys vote on personality not issues. I used to be an indy, and I always voted based on issues. I don't think I was typical though.

What to wingnuts hate McCain for:

lets see:
He tried to do something about global warming.
He at least claims to be against torture.
He doesn't support massive deportaions.
He has shown a propensity to fight against the republican mainstream.

Posted by: bigTom on January 28, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

I note all these postings concerning how Sen. Clinton will energize the Republican base in a Clinton/McCain contest. Two questions:
Since when do we listen to Republicans as to whom we nominate?
And secondly, so what if Clinton "energizes" the Republican base? That base alone will not win elections. That's why the Republicans have had to lie and hide behind faux patriotism to win elections.
It's the independents that will decide the 2008 election and once the campaigning begins I can see the Republicans having a much harder time trying to angle toward the center with all bytes that are floating around to contradict them.

Posted by: Doug on January 28, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Burka: Can anyone tell me: what bothers conservatives about McCain?

Let me count the ways:

1--He's more or less sensible about immigration.

2--He considered running with Kerry.

3--He is sort of Episcopalian rather than true-red evangelical.

4--He has a black love-child (which I choose to interpret as a child he and his wife decided to adopt because they loved it).

Posted by: anandine on January 28, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin...nothing about the Kennedy endorsement? Seriously?

Posted by: Boorring on January 28, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the problem beyond the press liking him is that he likes them. He knows how to wink while hosting SNL, and that's good for millions of votes from people who never read from one year to the next.

Pray for Romney. Pray for Romney.

Posted by: Kenji on January 28, 2008 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Vote for John McCain, a lousy pilot and a lousy American. He will fight for ustedes.

Posted by: Luther on January 28, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

I believe Kevin is wrong about Hillary vs McCain. In that matchup, McCain doesn't *need* to mobilize the base. Hillary will do that for him. He just has to show up and grab the center, which he will.

The McCain vs Obama matchup is the one where the conservatives stay home.

Posted by: Nick on January 28, 2008 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

A Hillary vs. McCain general election -
that's an enormously difficult decision for the likes of me ( Independent ).

As of now, he's less of an apparatchik than Hillary Clinton. However, if he starts grossly pandering - and if he campaigns similarly to the Clintons, I just may not vote for either one.

And, I suppose that speaks to the effectiveness of pandering to the base - by both Hillary and McCain ... They'll actually hold their nose and vote for one or the other.

Posted by: jackifus on January 28, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

A b ig factor in McCain's appeal to independents has been his absurdly adoring treatment by the media. There are signs that's changing, and in the lights of a general election, with a slowly awakening blogosphere, you really have to wonder how red the media carpet would be for Saint John. Will independents continue liking him when he isn't always introduced by his media fanboys as the "Maverick straight talking moderate war hero Senator John McCain"?

Posted by: Martin Gale on January 28, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

As a staunch right-winger, I'm too busy thinking about how best to kill baby-killers to think about which judicial candidates will best enable us to shit on the Constitution.

Posted by: Anon on January 28, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

But more than any of the other Republican candidates, he's also going to have to reassure the conservative base

Stage III Smog Alert in OC today? Weird coming right after such a huge storm.

Posted by: jerry on January 28, 2008 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Every progressive person in this country who is concerned about the makeup of the SCOTUS should assume that any nominee will seek to replace all vacancies with Alito clones. To make any other assumption is exceedingly unwise. Pandering to centrists to lure independents is a given for both parties -- but it doesn't mean squat in the long run.

As for Hillary being an automatic loss against McCain, I think that is pure bullshit. It's absolutely true that she will motivate otherwise apathetic GOP voters to get off their asses and go to the polls, but I imagine Obama would do likewise.

The real factor is who will motivate the non-voters who lean Democratic or even independent to get out and vote. Young people and single women come to mind. Another factor will be minorities who often don't vote because they "feel" disenfranchised. This is a more significant issue than actual vote suppression in my view. The Democrats have an historic opportunity here. However, never underestimate the capacity of Democrats to shoot themselves in the foot via circular firing squad. I really hope we don't see the "losers" in the Hillary vs. Obama contest sitting this out. Personally, I would feel a lot better about the Dems chances if the various camps would start talking about common ground NOW, rather than waiting to hastily patch things up after the convention when it may be too late. Of course, that would mean Barack, Hillary and perhaps even Bill would have to repress their huge egos and do what is best for the party. I sincerely hope they will. Right now, they are just providing fodder for the media's high school popularity contest narrative.

As for McCain, he has several negatives as other posters have noticed. Frankly, he'll have a hard time escaping the legacy of GW Bush and appealing to the base at the same time. Republicans may regret the Bush presidency, but they won't admit it to the rest of us. That would demonstrate weakness, which naturally leads to the assumption they have small perpetually flaccid weenies. Can't have that.

McCain will have to run as a continuation of the Bush regime's world view. He's blown any claim to the "maverick" label over the past 8 years.

I honestly think Romney, a complete cipher, has a better chance in the general than McCain.

Posted by: lobbygow on January 28, 2008 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Doug, you need to remember that no Democrat has gotten more than 50.1% of the vote since 1964. So it is important, when considering who the Demo nominee should be, what effect his/her nomination will have on the GOP. Republicans are more reliable voters than Democrats. Older people, who more often vote Republican, are more reliable voters than younger people. If Hillary's the nominee, you're looking at best at a very close victory -- and if their base is energized while a lot of ours is pissed off or apathetic, and moderates just split down the middle -- well, the GOP wins.

Posted by: Traven on January 28, 2008 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are more reliable voters than Democrats. Older people, who more often vote Republican, are more reliable voters than younger people.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Posted by: lobbygow on January 28, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone tell me: what bothers conservatives about McCain?

Exactly. I don't get it, either.

bigTom and anandine had good starter lists that apply to rank-and-file conservatives.

It's worth mentioning that the real players in the GOP, however, hate McCain most for McCain-Feingold. They are still absolutely incensed about it.

Posted by: shortstop on January 28, 2008 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

This, by the way, is one of the reasons I'm not nearly as nervous about a Hillary-McCain contest as some people. Sure, McCain might be able to peel off some independents. But more than any of the other Republican candidates, he's also going to have to reassure the conservative base. This is obviously a balancing act that every presidential candidate has to go through, but McCain has it much worse than most. Once the right-wing pandering gets into full swing — and it will — is he really going to be able to hang on to independents too?

It won't necessarily go that way though, in terms of the general election. If McCain wins the nomination, unless conservatives mount a credible 3rd party candidate, McCain is assured of most if not all conservative votes, especially if Hillary is up against him, as "best of the worst", so John will be free to court the independent vote.

The biggest concern for the GOP then would not necessarily be the independent vote, but turnout from its base, who might be less than enthused to vote for the "best of the worst" candidate, while the Democrats will probably be coming out in hordes after 8 years of BushCo (especially again if it's Obama).

In many ways, you can look at this thing with Obama having the edge in almost every way over Hillary, but pure voting demographic dynamics (except women), though without saying it necessarily will be such a way - if Obama wins the nomination, and goes up against McCain, McCain will have to fight harder for the independent vote, depressing conservative turnout even further than if Hillary was the anti-candidate, and Obama would also likely cause the biggest turnout for the Democratic side, further making a lower turnout on the GOP side that much more lethal.

As much of an edge as Hillary may have with women, how would that relate to Obama's likely edge in bringing more excitement and turnout on the Democratic side, while also likely having more impact in terms of getting habitual non-voters and maybe-voters to come out and vote for him?

Anyhow, that's some horse race stuff that I don't really like to engage in that much, in favor of a substantive platform to run on (and which to use as a club once in power, as the "people's wishes"), but in reality you have to balance both of these things, since so much of the actual voting dynamic is psychological, motivational, emotional (some would say irrational), impressionable, etc. and not solely (or some would say largely or primarily) based on a considerate examination of the policies and issues addressed in the platform and how they reflect on an individual voter.

Posted by: Jimm on January 28, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, if thinking about it more, perhaps such a winning case could be made for Hillary too, but the Obama winning case just seems to come naturally to mind with this particular framing of the voting dynamic in terms of base turnout, independent voters, and new/irregular voters (and obviously with John McCain as the GOP candidate, I haven't contemplated Romney's impact on Hillary or Obama's chances).

Posted by: Jimm on January 28, 2008 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

I should add that the preceding was a dispassionate analysis, as I'm only gradually even starting to pay attention to the primaries, and certainly don't have a favored candidate in terms of winnability or electability, though I do favor Edwards from a purely policy and platform perspective (at the moment, but again only as a mostly passive consumer at this point).

Posted by: Jimm on January 28, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Traven and lobbygow above - you both speak my mind. I'm an Independent ( used to be a Democrat, but quit the party when I witnessed corruption ). I tend toward progressive ideals, though am not an apparatchik so I don't equate corruption only with the GOP.

If Hillary's the nominee, you're looking at best at a very close victory -- and if their base is energized while a lot of ours is pissed off or apathetic, and moderates just split down the middle -- well, the GOP wins.

That's absolutely correct ... however
lobbygow's point:

Every progressive person in this country who is concerned about the makeup of the SCOTUS should assume that any nominee will seek to replace all vacancies with Alito clones. To make any other assumption is exceedingly unwise.

Reminds me why, though revolted by the Clintons' Rovian behavior, in the general election I should consider voting for them.

thanks. appreciated.

Posted by: jackifus on January 28, 2008 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, with any luck you wouldn't have to worry at all because Barak will be the nominee and Hillary will be filing devorce papers.

Posted by: Keith G on January 28, 2008 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,McCain won't have to peel off voters from Hillary. She will be desperately trying to peel voters off from him.

Judicial appointmenst aren't an issue outside of the D and R bases. Independents mostly won't even notice.

Besides, and this is the part you really need to process, independents vote for the person they like even if thhey disagree with that person's position on the issues.

So McCain can be as much of a rightwing loon as he wishhes and independents will still vote for him if they think he's the straight talking good guy.

Posted by: wonkie on January 28, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

I see that Republican ass-hat brian is trying to make a joke with his suggestion that Republicans will "keep their eye on the ball."

Hey warmongering asshole, how did that "eye on the ball" help prevent the deaths of thousands of American soldiers? How about the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis?

Hey fiscally irresponsible fuck-head, how did that "eye on the ball" help grow the economy for the common man? How did it take action to prevent the crisis of too many idiots being allowed to pretend that their collection of sub-prime loans were in fact AAA rated investments?

Hey, party of death moron, how did that "eye on the ball" do when faced with the health-care crisis? What did it do to ensure that one's standard of care (and therefore life-expectancy) wasn't entirely based on one's ability to pay?

brian, you miserable piece of garbage, the party you support is the antithesis of America. It cares nothing for the sick, the common man, or even national security.

Sure, the Democratic candidates suck, but the alternative is the continuation of power for people like George W. Bush and brian whose hatred for America is overwhelming.

Posted by: heavy on January 28, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

::I heard a self-identified Republican caller (middle aged female) from Florida on C-SPAN yesterday, say she could not vote for McCain because of his stand to provide 'amnesty' to immigrants. She said McCain made her out to be a racist for her view that undocumented immigrants should be deported.::

NATIONAL REVIEW also has an article condemning McCain for - get this - hiring a Hispanic guy to advise him on Hispanic issues.

Posted by: tam1MI on January 29, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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