Jennifer has a very amusing story from her childhood - well, her uncle's, really - about having to wear an outfit that he did not like, and saying to his Mom "you like it, you wear it."
A lot of Jennifer's best, most pithy advice, comes from observations about fashion. :)
If you ask me what I think about Mitt Romney dropping out, leaving John McCain in a position to consolidate the Republicans, I'd point out that the dynamic looks a lot like that outfit - you like it, you wear it. And the thing is, a lot of Republicans don't like it, and to the extent they wear it, it's not comfortable, or natural.
How this will play out between now and November is anyone's guess... but I'll say as a Democrat, with a few months to go - at least - before things are sorted... I'm not really shaking in my boots about McCain.
More than anything, I think the "McCain Moment" came and went 7 years ago. When John McCain couldn't muster enough "maverick" support within the GOP to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy of anointing George W. Bush (funny how they criticize the "coronation" of Clinton - which of course, hasn't happened - when that's been their mode for at least 40 years), he really became just another Republican who had to play by the rules. And in the year of ups and downs, McCain has shown, more than any candidate, a determination to play by rules he doesn't like to win over people he clearly disagrees with to allow him do things they probably don't want anyway.
And if that's the best GOP strategy going, frankly I'll take those odds with any Democrat - and that includes both the untested new guy and the polarizing Clinton lady.
The case against McCain is most starkly made by the numbers:
- Turnout has been far higher in Democratic primaries across the country, at anywhere from 50-75% more voters on the D side in some places (and in total numbers for Tuesday).
- McCain won South Carolina, for instance, with fewer votes than what he got to lose to Bush in 2000
- On "Super Tuesday" this week, McCain was often little better than 35% ish in states where both Romney and Huckabee were viable; as much as Romney, McCain was almost completely not viable in southern states that Huckabee won
- As George Will points out, McCain's super Tuesday wins of significance came in states where he can't win in November - Illinois, New York, California... just for starters
- In Arizona, his home state, 50% of Republican primary voters... voted for someone else. Hillary Clinton won Arizona with 51%
One could go on - self identified conservatives have broken for Romney in large numbers in almost every state contest (including places like California where McCain won); almost anyone concerned about something other than Iraq and the "War on Terra" picked someone else over McCain. That wouldn't be a big deal, but on the issue where he's supposed to be strongest, McCain faces some of the greatest establishment dissent: despite liberal apoplexy over his "we could be in Iraq for 100 years" sentiments (and boy will that make a great commercial come fall), conservatives hate him more for his anti-torture stances and his opposition to Guantanamo as a terrorist prison. In other words, he'll frighten liberals, and he'll piss off the "attach another electrode to their balls" crowd on the right.
That's impressive, I grant you. But it's also a recipe for electoral disaster.
Republicans seem to sense this. The glum acceptance of Tuesday's results, the grim determination, as always, to fall in line, has led to a lot of "look to lower line races" logic and "now is the time to rebuild" sentiment. That's probably smart... but it's still fun to watch the Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters and Michelle Malkins squirm, as the party they chose chooses something other than them, and their politics.
The point is that Republicans didn't get here because, as some have tried to suggest, they all gradually came, positively, to the conclusion that McCain is the best guy to run. Instead, they've reached a point of desperation because none of the other losers could get it together to give McCain the what for that would have squelched him for good. Tenacious, hard-knuckle, and above all, highly political, McCain essentially browbeat his opponents into submission until only the edgiest and mouthiest remained, and as I've said all along, Coulter et al (including Rush) have been drifting out of the GOP mainstream as the extremes and bitterness they espouse became more and more clear. That the GOP may have managed to marginalize its own talk radio right may well be the story of this election, though no one, I think, realizes just yet what the implications are in that.
The biggest implication of course, is that Republicans - who seem, more than Democrats, to think "not voting" is an appropriate way to participate in an election - will simply stay home, as they have so far, and let McCain flame out. Oh, they're talking a brave game of having a potential Clinton opponent energize them... but in the end, Hillary Hatred™ will not be enough, absent an inspiring alternative, to stop what looks, even now, like a Democrat's dream election. But that's not the point of this post - like everything else, focusing on Clinton is meant to distract from the poor choice they've made in John McCain. And, for a moment, it's that mistake that deserves to be front and center. If they can't muster the energy to really like him, I guarantee Democrats won't, either. You like it, you wear it.