Monday, July 16, 2007

McCain In Free Fall

I have a confession to make, I've always admired John McCain. I don't agree with many of his positions, but I think he comes by them honestly. More trouble, for a campaign that appears to be in free fall:

John McCain's top communications aides and several staffers in Iowa and South Carolina quit on Monday, the latest departures to hit the Republican as he struggles to rebound from financial and political woes.

Brian Jones, McCain's communications director, and his two deputies, Matt David and Danny Diaz, stepped down but plan to stay on through the week. Two others in the communications shop at the campaign headquarters also are leaving, as are two staffers apiece in Iowa and South Carolina.

Also Monday, Iowa Republican Party officials said they had been told McCain was closing his campaign in the state. But officials at McCain's campaign headquarters in suburban Washington disputed that, saying the Iowa headquarters remains open and the senator plans to campaign in Iowa this weekend.

In suburban Des Moines, a handful of staffers milled about McCain's Iowa headquarters but they said no one was authorized to issue statements.

I was thinking about McCain last week, as it related to Harper's flip flop on Afghanistan. Iraq has been an albatross around McCain's neck, which will most likely prove to be his undoing. Despite the drop in the polls, the opportunities to distance himself from the war, McCain has NEVER wavered, to his determent. In an age when politicians massage rhetoric and positions to curry favor with a changing landscape, McCain holds steadfast.

Ditto on immigration, where McCain favors policy which is clearly at odds with many in the Republican base. A political animal would calculate the pitfalls and adjust accordingly to feed personal ambition. McCain is different in that regard, he proposes what he believes, without attaching political advantage.

McCain looks mortally wounded, within a Republican field that is beginning to look decidedly weak. McCain may well deserve to fail, given his continued support for "Bush's war", but I will at least give him the credit of conviction. It is an interesting contrast to our domestic "hawk", who seems to view principled, moral obligation through a political weather vane and acts accordingly.


Canadian Tar Heel said...

True. McCain is sincere and consistent, but Republicans don't like what he's sincere and consistent about.

His campaign seems to be stuck in quicksand. Unfortunately, I don't think he'll cut his losses, and instead opt to stand, even if alone. Call it courage. Call it political suicide.

nbpolitico said...

It is truly the saddest thing I have ever watched in politics.

Steve V said...

I heard a couple of pundits suggest his campaign will end by the fall. The problem with bad fundraising numbers, it tends to feed on itself, with people moving away because they don't think the campaign is viable.

If McCain can hang around, he could stage a "comeback", primarily because there doesn't seem to be any enthusiasm for Guiliani and it remains unclear whether Thompson is just the flavor of the month.

KSM said...

I think the albatross around McCain's neck is his support for the immigration reform bill which conservatives have labeled as amnesty. Remember that we're dealing with GOP primary voters here -- it's the base. They still support Iraq, by and large, to one degree or another. As does the rest of the GOP field.

So, before you say that McCain may deserve his fate because of his support for Iraq, remember it's not Iraq -- but his support for liberal immigration reform -- that has doomed him.

Steve V said...


Did you happen to read the post?

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

Everytime I hear "McCain," I can't help but think of this SNL cartoon (especially the last 2/3). It aired in October 2004.

Karen said...

I have to admit it is rather sad. Perhaps it's too early to speculate, but it sure looks like the end to me.

While I did at one time have a level of respect for him, I've rarely agreed with any of his policy.

As it relates to conviction, being steadfast is one thing, but to take that position on the war, in view of all the evidence is quite another.

He just looks old an tired now though. Is their anyone who is vibrant in the GOP line up?

Would any of the contenders choose him for VP?

Anonymous said...

The US desperatly needs change and McCain doesn't represent change. It would be more of the same.

McCain is stubborn and tempermental - they've got a guy like that in the WH now.

Karen said...

anon @ 6:21, at least he has brains though. Bush does not.

It will remain a mystery to me until I die, how he was elected, not once, but twice!

Steve V said...


That's hilarious!


I'm not going to defend McCain on Iraq, for obvious reasons, but if the President had listened to his early criticisms, it might be slightly less of the clusterfuck than it is presently.

Karen said...

Bush was never prepared to listen Steve.

That is what is so bizarre about McCain's position. He's been brushed aside by the idiot Pres, yet supports him.

That vid, godammitkitty, was hilarious, in a kinda Shakespearean sort of way.

Steve V said...

Early on, McCain was easily Bush's biggest Iraq critic on the Republican side (Hagel too I suppose). When the war really started to go south with the public, it was like the administration really went to great lengths to keep McCain on board. It was then that McCain started parroting much of the rhetoric and started to sound like a Bush apologist.

Anonymous said...

"It was then that McCain started parroting much of the rhetoric and started to sound like a Bush apologist."

McCain has been a Bush apologist from day 1, Steve. It only took YOU several years to figure it out. Not that I'm surprised.

Scotian said...

McCain lost any respect from me as a man of "principle" when he did not take to task the Bush team in 2004 for creating and organizing the SBVfT to smear his fellow hero of the Vietnam War John Kerry. He didn't even have the option of saying that there was no clear/provable link between the Bush/Cheney 04 election campaign and the SBVfT since this was one of the rare times Rove left a fingerprint on one of his smear operations. McCain stood up for Kerry repeatedly in the past whenever such smears were used against him, but not this time. For someone that claims his sense of honour is such that he defends all his true brothers in arms to act in such a reprehensible manner clearly dictated by political considerations instead of principle/honour undercuts/destroys any basis to consider him a man of principle/honour, let alone one that places principle before political considerations.

Up until then I respected McCain as such even though I almost always disagreed with his positions. This though was simply unforgivable and inexcusable and blatantly driven by partisan political considerations instead of any commitment to principles. Especially when one stops and remembers that it was Rove and company that did the same to him in the 2000 primaries with smearing his wife, his daughter and his military service and subsequent capture and torture making him unstable during the South Carolina primary after McCain's win in New Hampshire. So I have no sympathy for him at all, he dug his hole gambling that staying committed to the Iraq mission would be worth its political weight in gold within the GOP and help offset the other issues conservatives would have with him because of positions like on immigration and finance rules on elections.

Sorry Steve V, I simply cannot agree with your assessment of the man being a principles first motivated politico, he lost that right with his actions in 2004, and has since done little to nothing for me to change that view based on his actual actions as opposed to his rhetoric IMHO.

Steve V said...

"McCain has been a Bush apologist from day 1, Steve."

Oh bullshit, he was quite critical of Bush up until the re-election phase, when he became the good, or bad, soldier.


Fair points, and I agree with you on 2004- I lost a lot of respect for McCain too. It was particularly troubling, because Bush was doing to Kerry, what Bush did to McCain in the savage primary battle.

Scotian said...

Steve V:

"...because Bush was doing to Kerry, what Bush did to McCain in the savage primary battle." 7:43 PM, July 17, 2007

I know, I believe I mentioned it in my comment regarding the South Carolina primary after McCain won the New Hampshire one...:) Indeed, it was this that caused my mother (who is also a political junkie of both Canadian and American federal politics) to become completely disgusted with McCain after liking and respecting him for over a decade. I think he really hurt himself there, especially with fellow veterans who recognized the political hit job on Kerry on behalf of someone that refused to serve outside of the TANG let alone in Vietnam and didn't even complete that easy service and a VP who used 5-6 draft deferments because he had "better things to do with his time" (his words). I take things like military service and honourable service very serious, it is a part of my family and personal culture, and what McCain did this time out was unforgivable in those terms.