Monday, December 13, 2004

Keeping It Real Politik: McCain in ’08?

I was over on 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.


The Sore Loser said...

McCain's appeal lies in the perception that he is not just another politician. But as the 2004 campaign showed, he IS just another politician. He is willing to sell his soul just to slightly raise the prospects of being nominated for president. Just like the rest of them, he'll say anything to get elected. I've completely lost respect for him.

After the John Kerry debacle, I don't think there's any way that the Democrats are going to nominate Hillary for president. They're going to look for a charismatic Southerner to carry their platform. Right now I'd put my money on Edwards.

Eric Berlin said...

It seems like nowadays, you have to sell your soul to some extent to reach the presidency... unless you're Bush.

In all seriousness, I think the debate within the Democratic Party over the coming years will be: partially sell our collective souls and cater to the ever-shifting "middle" or take a Dean tack and stand for something again, and strongly.

I would argue that we can look back and see four years of steady erosion for Democrats in going after the middle. In fact, it may take someone with the superior political skills of Bill Clinton to hold together a Triangulated Electoral College. Therefore, Dean was the wrong man for 2004, but may be the right man to lead the party for the next few years, at least.

As for Hillary: don't count her and her husband out. They'll both have a lot to say about how things go from here on out. Frankly, I think Hillary would wipe the ground with Edwards in the Democratic primaries, especially in the North and West. Edwards may have been a media darling, but sometime around Super Tuesday, he began a long fade.

We could well wind up with Hillary as the DLC centrist candidate against an upstart liberal like Obama (or perhaps, Dean, who isn't really that liberal, but that's another argument) in the '08 primaries.

Can you tell I'm looking forward to it being three years from now?

The Sore Loser said...

Really? I don't think Hillary has a chance in the primaries. Kerry won the nomination only because voters thought he was more "electable" than Dean. After losing again to W, Democrats are going to put even more emphasis on who is electable in 2008. And there's no way it's Hillary. No matter how much Democrats may like her, they know if their heart that she has almost no chance of winning outside of the usual liberal enclaves.

You'd best be getting on the Edwards bandwagon now, son.

Eric Berlin said...

Hillary's positioned herself as a centrist since she's taken the New York Senate seat, and even her detractors have given her points for the job she's done, working across the aisle, etc. And there's going to be a big push over the next several years from the Clinton camp to push her squarely in the spotlight whenever possible.

Now, in the wake of Kerry's loss and minority status across the branches of government, there's a rather large power vacuum in the Democratic Party.

Enter HRC, with the best political adviser this world over at her side.

When 2007 or so rolls around, she'll have an enormous advantage in name recognition, free media, news profiles, support from women's groups, Clinton staff/aides/donors, etc.

In other words, she'll have a huge institutional advantage, almost that of an incumbent. Can it fall apart by events or a nifty/loaded-with-money challenger? Sure. But I don't see Edwards as the guy.

Maybe another governor, like Ed Rendell, or more likely one of the border/Southern govs (see: Clinton and Carter) can knock her off.

But right now, I think you have to put Clinton as the front runner.

Of course, it's still the top of the first.

Come to think of it, I'm heading over to the beer vendor for a couple of "value sizers." Care to join me?