McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent
by Scott Shields, Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 07:05:23 AM EST
I think we've been leading up to this conclusion here at MyDD for quite a while. Now with Ryan Lizza of The New Republic jumping on board, I'd say we can officially call it. John McCain is George W. Bush's pick for President in 2008. (Emphasis mine.)
There seems to be only one issue in the Bush primary. Whatever Bush may have once stood for--tax cuts, social conservatism--it all seems puny and ephemeral compared with the way he defends his decision to invade Iraq. So which 2008 Republican has the sort of total commitment to the war that possesses Bush? Only John McCain springs to mind. And with the notable exception of the use of torture, McCain is also the staunchest backer of Bush's self-proclaimed wartime powers.
Of course, most political things for Bush are also personal. The second trait he is likely looking for is someone he can personally trust. He has been careful about turning to loyal lieutenants as the guardians of his national security decisions. ...
Given their history, McCain probably doesn't quite pass Bush's trust test. But unless Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, or Condi Rice change their minds about running, neither do any of the other declared (or all-but-declared) candidates. That leaves Bush with only one obvious protector and defender of his legacy. It is a strange irony: John McCain as the last Bush Republican.
The 'rifts' between Bush and McCain over the past few years have been carefully stage-managed. Take, for example, McCain's "torture amendment." Very publicly, McCain railed against the Bush administration's unwillingness to refuse torture. Eventually, the White House "came around" to McCain's position and signed it into law. Immediately afterwards, they declared that it didn't actually apply to them. McCain and Bush got what they wanted -- McCain looked like a winner, Bush looked like a compromiser, and the status quo remained intact. As I said at the time, it was little more than kabuki theater, designed to make McCain look independent.
None of this is to say that the fight between Bush and McCain in 2000 was anything less than authentic. The Rove-direct smear campaign against McCain in South Carolina was truly one of the most disgusting things I'd ever seen, only to be duplicated nationwide against John Kerry in 2004. For McCain to cozy up to Bush after that says a lot to me about his character and his hunger for power, no matter what kind of ethical compromises it takes.
The way I see it playing out, the Republicans are going to pretend that 2008 is a complete changing of the guard -- from Bush to McCain. But it will just be more of the same. McCain will no doubt put a friendlier face on the politics, but the policies will remain bad none the less, because as Lizza says, at the end of the day McCain really is "the last Bush Republican."