John McCain — McCain didn’t just win Florida — he won the GOP nomination. Though many pundits, bloggers, and radio hosts will spend the next week trying to deny this obvious fact, it is the reality that we must face. Huckabee was critically wounded in South Carolina. Florida has finished off Giuliani. And Romney’s chances have also been crushed, though he thinks he is rich enough to buy an alternative reality. However, Romney can’t overcome the fact that when he faced McCain in NH, SC, and FL he was thrashed every time.
We have to give credit where its due. Team McCain has found a way to carry their candidate to victory. McCain’s campaign manager released the Path to the Nomination video back in December. At the time it seemed overly optimistic. Today, it appears prescient.
I’ll admit that I’m troubled by the idea of a McCain presidency. He still seems to me to be a cross between Conan and Charles Foster Kane: A fascinatingly flawed and haunted man whose main goal in life is to crush his enemies and see them driven before him.
Still, as John Mark Reynolds notes, “The good news is that unlike any Democrat running McCain is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, against torture, and for winning the War on Terror.” True enough. Also, having McCain as the nominee really ticks off all the people that unfairly trashed Huckabee (Rush, Mark Levin, et. al.). It may not be enough to ease my discomfort over McCain, but it nevertheless brings me great pleasure.
°°°°°°Mitt Romney — One of the reasons that McCain will be the nominee is because the establishment tried to sell Mitt Romney as the “full-spectrum conservative” candidate. Apparently, the pro-Romney pundits thought we GOP voters are either extremely gullible or, more likely, that we have very short memories.
As primary voters in IA, NH, and FL discovered, Romney has previously supported many liberal positions, including abortion rights, the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a ban on “assault weapons”, government mandated health insurance, etc., ad naseum. Holding these positions today, however, would make him unelectable so he had to discard his deeply held pro-choice, pro-gay principles in favor of ones more palatable to the GOP base.
While it’s difficult to discern when the
flip-flopping metamorphosis into a “full-spectrum” conservative was completed, we can be generous and say that it occurred in 2003, the first year he was Governor of Massachusetts. That would have given him a few months to backtrack from all his campaign promises. Now let’s put that date into perspective.
When Romney became a conservative he was 56 years old (4 years older than Mike Huckabee is today). The year Romney became a conservative we invaded Iraq and captured Saddam Hussein. The year Romney became a conservative Ruben Studdard won American Idol, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won the Oscar for Best Picture, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy premiered on Bravo. The year Romney became a conservative is the year I started this blog.
Think about that for a moment. Not only have people being reading blogs longer than Romney has been a conservative but people have been reading this blog longer than Romney has been a conservative.
Personally, I prefer to have a President who has spent a bit more time becoming familiar with conservative arguments, principles, traditions, and values. I suspect that outside of the elite pundit class, most conservatives feel the same. Romney may have been endorsed by National Review. But most conservative prefer to endorse a candidate who has actually read National Review.
°°°°°°Rudy Giuliani — Back in March I wrote about Irrational Exuberance and the Rudy Bubble:
On November 13, 1998, a little-known, privately-owned web portal called TheGlobe.com went public. Although the company had never made a profit and had a net loss of $11.5 million for the previous nine-month period, the stock jumped to $97. The first day the stock price rose 606%, setting a record for an initial public offering. In order to buy $1 of the company’s earnings—not profit, just earnings—investors were willing to pay roughly $1,388. (In comparison, people now pay around $47 for $1 of Google’s earnings.)
Eventually investors came to their senses and priced the company at its true value. Today you can buy a share of stock in TheGlobe.com for 4 cents.
How could otherwise sane investors pay so much for a company that was worth almost nothing? The answer is that they convinced themselves that the rules had changed. The internet had ushered in the “new economy” making the old valuations and metrics obsolete. Companies no longer had to make a profit in order to be worth billions; they just had to have a website.
It’s easy to look back on that era and scoff at such absurd behavior. But while we may not be so easily fooled by internet stocks the stock in political candidates is prone to bouts of “irrational exuberance.” Consider, for example, how otherwise serious people believe that Rudy Giuliani can actually be elected president. Many people have convinced themselves that the rules have changed and that social conservatives will discard their principles and embrace a candidate who has never held national office because of his imaginary credibility on “national security.”
In Florida, sanity prevailed and the Rudy bubble popped.
°°°°°°Mike Huckabee — The Huckabee campaign has taught us two lesson about election finances: (1) Having the most money doesn’t ensure an easy path to victory, and (2) Having the least money does ensure that the path to the nomination will be nearly impossible. As John Mark Reynolds says, ” Mike Huckabee would have been a major contender with the kind of money that either Rudy or Romney spent on the race.”
Fortunately, he still has enough money to stick around and bleed votes from Romney. That won’t be enough to secure the nomination but it will help show that he is a contender for 2012.
Ron Paul — What’s in a name? Consider that Paul received 60,000+ votes in FL running as a Republican. That’s enough for a weak fifth place showing. But what if instead of running as a Republican he had garnered that many votes as a Libertarian candidate. Then the achievement would have been much more impressive. (Counter-argument: Paul could not have sparked that much interest running as a third-party candidate.)
°°°°°°Outlook Last week I said, “A Clinton-Obama/Obama-Clinton ticket would be unbeatable in the general election. While McCain would do slightly better than Romney, both would be crushed by the Democratic landslide.” I’d modify that somewhat. An Obama/Anyone ticket would be a disaster for McCain. An Obama/Hillary would be a tighter race, but not much better. A Hillary/Obama matchup against McCain/Huckabee would be a nail-biter. But as of now, I’d still think the Democrats would win.
I’ll be posting my own analysis later of where the GOP stands and how the party got to this point. It is a bit of delicious irony that the unfettered vituperative attacks by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, National Review, Michelle Malkin, et al derailed the Huckabee momentum coming out of Iowa and has given us the ascendancy of the McCain campaign. Now Limbaugh et al are frothing at the mouth at the prospect that the GOP will nominate someone whom they view as a moderate and not a genuine conservative. Well, folks, you’re getting what you deserve!