John McCain: Switching teams,
April 17, 2002 5:03 PM   Subscribe

John McCain: Switching teams, or a look into the future of the Republican Party?
posted by BlueTrain (22 comments total)
Also here at the New Republic and here at the Washington Monthly (although this page seems to be broken), and a counter-argument from Mickey Kaus.
posted by nicwolff at 5:21 PM on April 17, 2002

Whoops — those first two links are already in the linked Wash Post article. Sorry!
posted by nicwolff at 5:23 PM on April 17, 2002

Well, that would be pretty sweet, since then I could vote for him. But I think McCain'll stick with the republican party until '08. McCain is still a pretty conservative guy, I don't know if the dems would go for it.
posted by delmoi at 5:24 PM on April 17, 2002

delmoi: What prevents you from voting for McCain even if runs as a Republican if you truly think he's the best candidate out there?
posted by gyc at 5:38 PM on April 17, 2002

gyc: primaries.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:39 PM on April 17, 2002

This is rather interesting though I tend to agree it's a non-starter. McCain has long been derided as a RINO, i.e. Republican In Name Only; and the conservative chat site Free Republic reached new lows of nastiness and vicious infighting during the 2000 GOP primaries. If he in any way runs against Bush, he's not only up against the usual charges of party traitor, but against the charge of challenging a sitting president on at least a low-level war footing. (Who knows by 2004, but McCain would have to be campaigning long before that, probably laying the groundwork by the end of this year.)

That said, there's a lot of merit to the idea that McCain and like Republicans will be happier in a rejuvenated Democratic party. There might be some appeal here for the disaffected, moderate-libertarian center.
posted by dhartung at 6:09 PM on April 17, 2002

McCain seems to me to be more likely to try to reform the Republican Party. During the presidential primaries I really hoped McCain would win the Republican nomination and the election. Not because I particularly agree with all of his policies etc, but because he appears to be that rarest of all rare birds: an honorable politician. He's conservative from a time when conservative meant courageous, honest, willing to die for one's country but more importantly, willing to live for what it stands for. Rule of, by and for the people. Freedom. Justice. Honesty and accountability. Equality before the law. In other words, everything the Bush Corporation isn't.

I don't watch West Wing much, but it seems to me that part of the inspiration for the character of Bartlett comes straight from John McCain. Perhaps it's just an act on McCain's part, but if so it's a pretty good one. I find it hard to believe that McCain would employ Ari Doubletalk Fleischer as his personal spokesmodel, let Dick Cheney run around subverting government to the benefit of oilmen, prostitute the legislative process to the likes of Ken Lay, stir up coups in Venezuala, turn an indulgent smile onto Israel's excesses, etc etc.

posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:43 PM on April 17, 2002

John McCain, please stay away from the Democratic party. Conservative in sheep's clothing, indeed.
posted by owillis at 7:18 PM on April 17, 2002

aeschenkarnos: John McCain has, in the past at least, been super-hawkish.
posted by raysmj at 7:41 PM on April 17, 2002

Conservative in sheep's clothing, indeed.

Who would know better?
posted by y2karl at 7:54 PM on April 17, 2002

There's no way McCain could ever make it as a Democratic presidential candidate. He may be a maverick by GOP standards, but he's still enough of a Republican to fail a whole host of DNC litmus tests. A far more likely counterargument from John Ellis:
I have no doubt that Kaus is correct that the Beltway will soon be talking this up, but it isn't going to happen. McCain won't run for the Democratic presidential nomination; he'd never get it and the party's left-liberal core would never have him (the press would, but they're not yet delegates to Democratic National Conventions).

McCain will run for president in 2004 as an Independent. He'll run as the "not crazy" Ross Perot. His biggest boosters will be the national press corps. And he will be a problem for the White House.
I agree with the last sentence in theory, though I don't know if he'll last long enough to still be a problem by November 2004. He's liable to blow at any moment in some fashion from which he could never recover. As it is, he's having big-time trouble dealing with his own constituents in Arizona right now over a bunch of issues; his own personal platform is steadily evolving into something in which every voter seems to be able to find at least once stance they can't tolerate. That's not a good sign.

I also like what Andrew Sullivan wrote about what these two amusingly perfectly-timed articles truly say:
[The Democrats] have acknowledged that a president they still routinely describe as a moron, a tool of corporate interests, and an inarticulate boob is all but unbeatable by anyone in their ranks. This is a party, remember, that had to win back the Senate by a Republican defection, and now it wants to win back the White House the same way. The truth is, the only people actually excited about the current Democratic Party's domestic and foreign policy ideas are Republicans yearning for the excitement of conversion.
posted by aaron at 8:22 PM on April 17, 2002

Translation of Sullivan: Blah blah blah blah blah, I don't know what I'm yapping about but I do know that I type too much every day blah blah and never mind the essential role of defections in the GOP's rise and blah I'm talking out my a** blah.
posted by raysmj at 9:20 PM on April 17, 2002

aaron, let's put some things into perspective . . .

McCain might have 'problems with his constituents,' but that hardly means much on the national scale. After all, Bush arguably did more harm than good in Texas, but his state record didn't plague him nearly as much as it should have. Also, no candidate's perfect; the goal is to pick the 'best' candidate, not the one that you agree with completely. This leads to a lot of damned-if-you-don't, damned-if-you-do voting in this nation, but I've yet to meet anyone who wholeheartedly agrees with everything that comes out of their favorite politician's mouth. If they did, they'd have to be either completely deluded or wholely foolish . . . And besides -- in modern elections, the voters each party are looking to capture are those that don't vote entirely along party lines.

And before you blow off the Dem's current batch of 'candidates,' consider how much of a contender W was in '98, or Clinton in 1990. Both were little-known governors without a whole lot of political clout. To think the Democrats should already have a candidate handpicked two-and-a-half years before the election would be foolish at best.
posted by dogmatic at 9:21 PM on April 17, 2002

As Bush Sr. can tell you, two and a half years is a looooong time.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:40 PM on April 17, 2002 piss away political capital, that is.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:41 PM on April 17, 2002

I have to mention this, too: anyone remember the Saturday Night Live skit which ran in 1990 or '91, "Democratic Primary: The Race to Not Be the Guy Who Loses to Bush"?
posted by Ty Webb at 10:44 PM on April 17, 2002

> Who would know better?


[I was thinking the same thing, but you were the big meanie who had to go and say it.]

[That there Johnny Otis sure wakes a guy up in the morning.]
posted by pracowity at 10:51 PM on April 17, 2002

gyc: The fact that bush will be on the republican ticket.
posted by delmoi at 11:23 PM on April 17, 2002

Yes, I know, damn me for not toeing the extreme left liberal line. Geez.

As far as Andrew Sullivan is concerned, the man is so in love with George Bush that he would count Jesus as an underdog to Dubya.
posted by owillis at 11:25 PM on April 17, 2002

Ty: But of course. Funniest of all: No Clinton.
posted by dhartung at 1:57 AM on April 18, 2002

Many thanks dhartung.

Congressman Dick Gephardt: Then, I have to ask you, if your husband doesn't think he should be this party's nominee, why didn't he bother to show up here tonight?

Tipper Gore: My husband is with our kids at a gay porno theater.

posted by Ty Webb at 8:48 AM on April 18, 2002

I don't know about his running as a Democrat, but I'd bet money he'll run. And he'll do it while making sure we all know that he knows a little something about this war thing.

I have my reasons for feeling pretty certain on this. I'm a registered Democrat, but back during primary season 2000, I thought, "If there's gotta be a Republican in the White House, better McCain than Dubya," and I sent McCain a check. Not much at all, but enough to get me a lifetime membership on his email announcement list. That list was very active during primary season, but went dead silent after Bush won the nomination. However, within (I'd have to go look) a few days of Sept. 11, I was getting McCain email again. Press releases about media appearances, in large part. I have to believe that those planes hit the Twin Towers and McCain thought something similar to what I thought, namely, Oh my god, is President Tweedledee ever not the man for this job.

I still get media-appearance email from the McCain folks. To me, it looks pretty consistent with the actions of a man who wants to both stay in the public eye, and to position himself as a subject matter expert on the topic of the war on terrorism. In other words: he's campaigning, and has been since September 11.
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:59 AM on April 18, 2002

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