I was over on BlogCritics.org today, where someone made the prediction that Sen. John McCain would likely run for President in 2008, get badly beaten in the primaries by a conservative challenger, which would cause him to break from the Republican Party and seek the presidency as an independent.
My personal view is that if McCain ever in his life would have changed parties, it would have been this year when he had every opportunity to be John Kerry's VP (or Sec of Defense).
Instead, McCain choked down a huge amount of pride and campaigned relatively enthusiastically for Bush-Cheney '04. In my opinion, the only reason he did that (let's remember - Bush tarnished and trashed McCain in the South Carolina GOP primary of '00) was to further his ambitions for the GOP nomination in '08.
However, it's a little curious why McCain would make such outspoken comments about Rumsfeld recently, but my feeling is that McCain’s MO is to lose no time at all in distancing himself from this administration and to set himself up as a reformist/independent conservative.
Let's remember, his chief opponents, right now, look to be people like Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum, all Northeasterners with a degree of clout among moderate voters.
McCain's no dummy, and he's thinking ahead. I don't think he'll go independent. I see him as setting himself up to first wipe out competition among the moderate contenders. Then, using his high standing that he's gained over the last four plus years, he'll go about in fending off the right.
Can he do it? Does he even want to? I think if he wants it, he's the odds on favorite to be the next President of the United States.
But it's very early yet.
The DB Prediction: Look for a possible McCain-Hegel pairing vs. Clinton-Obama in '08.