McCains ABCs

John McCain is effectively the nominee of the GOP. He has more than 700 delegates of the 1,191 needed and his closest rival Mitt Romney dropped out of the race yesterday. Mike Huckabee may make a last attempt to rally the conservative base, but he faces two problems. He only has 195 delegates and much of the base is as concerned about Huckabee’s economic views as they are about McCain’s immigration policy. McCain’s campaign would have to collapse for him to lose at this point. Looking ahead, however, McCain faces two large difficulties as a general election candidate, his age and the GOP base, but there is also an easy solution to both those difficulties if he is lucky enough to get it. All the candidates looked exhausted by Super Tuesday, but the strain on McCain was especially evident. He is 71 years old, and the too-short nights and the sheer, strange combination of repetition with exhilaration that comes from delivering a stump speech to enthusiastic crowds for the umpteenth time had taken their toll. Ronald Reagan was 73 when he ran for re-election in 1984 against Walter Mondale. After a meandering answer to the final question of the first debate, questions were raised about Reagan’s lucidity but he squelched them in the second debate. When asked if he thought age was an important concern, Reagan promised "I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience." The Reagan magic was back. He was a very young 73 and he looked it. John McCain is not a young 71. Five years in a prisoner-of-war camp would take a toll on anyone’s physical and mental state. He has had a couple of bouts with skin cancer. His much younger second wife accentuates his age. And, the wear-and-tear of a presidential campaign, the re-circulated air on the airplanes, the hurried meals, the need to be always "on" would sap the strength of a much younger man. McCain’s other problem is his base. Rush Limbuagh has said McCain will "destroy" the GOP and Ann Coulter has said she would vote for arch-enemy Hillary before she would vote for McCain. (This is Leninism – the conviction that things must get worse to get better.) They are loud and they have their followers, but McCain’s real problem is with the anti-immigrant fervor among average Republicans. In debate after debate, the issue of illegal immigration dominated all other issues because poll after poll showed that this was an issue that moved voters. McCain may or may not be able to appease the base on this issue, but if he tries to, he will forfeit any opportunity to reach out to moderates and to Latinos. George Bush took 44% of the Latino vote in 2004 and 31% in 2001. That number could plummet for the GOP this year. Even more importantly, pandering to the right will thoroughly compromise his reputation as a straight shooter and maverick. What to do? Pray that the Dems nominate Hillary. As former Bush spokesman Ari Fleisher said on CNN Tuesday night, "There is no doubt ... we hope and pray every night to run against Hillary Clinton." Though younger than McCain, her candidacy does not represent a generational change. And despite the excitement about electing the first woman president, Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton just doesn’t sound like change. And, she is the one person that can do what McCain, Romney and Huckabee can’t: unite the GOP base. Michael Sean Winters
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 7 months ago
I agree that it would seem contradictory to support a candidate who feels differently from us in terms of Abortion Issues. But in heckling over abortion, have we made it the only issue that matters. For the most Prolife candidate made a comment to the effect of "If I took office, I would abolish the IRS." So tell me, how do we effect change of any kind without tax dollars to fund change. Have we forgotten in our search for a candidate, that Politics that set out to destroy the dignity of mankind through political Mukracking are not the issue here but restoration of dignity to those who deserve it and promoting a good educational platform also are things that play a huge role in at the very least my vote.
9 years 8 months ago
I'm a conservative and I feel we have been abandoned by the RNC and Mccain. Sometimes a house is so delapidated that it must be torn down to the foundation before being rebuilt. This the case with the RNC. The RNC wants our votes but caters to big business and special interests at our expense. My parents survived the depression, so I figure I will survive 4 years under a democrat. We need to start building for 2012.
9 years 8 months ago
Dear Howard, There is not much to survive after Bush and republican politics, both fake and vacuous in word and deed. The experience from a previous depression ought to tell you that democratic administrations got your parents out of trouble - Be a good Christian and convert from your Republican party-catholicism to the realities of your baptism - It is called Christian initiation and Lent is there - Republican politics sustained by bishops are a dead-end - You won't survive the moral loosers, rightist, extremist bishops included - Convert and vote with a better informed conscience - Louis de Strycker - Brussels
9 years 8 months ago
I'm glad to see McCain not pandering to the right; hopefully he can continue that, and the right will get a good tempering; that would be good for the Republican party, in my opinion. McCain isn't the ideal candidate, but then none of them are. But Joe Schriner gets awful close to ideal...
9 years 8 months ago
As devout and practicing Catholics we would hope they would all vote their conscience and vote for the one candidate that is pro life. We cannot call it right conscience and vote for anyone who is not pro life. It is ridiculous for any persons, especially clergy and religious, to even entertain the option of voting for any pro-abortion candidate such as Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama. The radio celebrities should not be considered as persons to follow either. They are entertainers, not credible on faith issues. No right conscience should ever promote such wrong doing without harming themselves and others. Think before you speak and write. Shame on you
9 years 8 months ago
God help us if the right wing zealots above, and their like, vote for a president using abortion as the sole litmus test. Shall we look at the morality of an unjust war that's destroying an entire country and its people, initiated by half-truths at the bequest of a corporate petro-military machine? Shall we examine the right wing's treatment of the poor and disenfranchised in our own country? Shall we examine dismal trends for health care availability in the US? So many "Christian" conservatives would rather our nation go to hell in a bucket of deluded self-righteousness than accept a leader who has a stance on abortion that may be contrary to their own. It's time that we embrace progressive change. The politics of the wealthy and greedy few must transition to a government of, by and for the people. All the people. And perhaps when that spirit of shared responsibility and shared reward permeates throughout our country we can sit down together to reach a solution on some of the more fundamental issues that divide us.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

It is astonishing to think that God would choose to enter the world this way: as a fragile newborn who could not even hold up his own head without help.
Ginny Kubitz MoyerOctober 20, 2017
Protestors rally to support Temporary Protected Status near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 26. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Around 200,000 Salvadorans and 57,000 Hondurans have been residing in the United States for more than 15 years under Temporary Protected Status. But that status is set to expire in early 2018.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 20, 2017
At the heart of Anne Frank’s life and witness is a hopeful faith in humanity.
Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J.October 20, 2017
Forensic police work on the main road in Bidnija, Malta, which leads to Daphne Caruana Galizias house, looking for evidence on the blast that killed the journalist as she was leaving her home, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Caruana Galizia, a harsh critic of Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat, and who reported extensively on corruption on Malta, was killed by a car bomb on Monday. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
Rarely does the death of a private citizen elicit a formal letter of condolence from the Pope.