McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

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."

Tags: 2008, General 2008, John McCain, Republicans (all tags)

Comments

36 Comments

Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

Not so sure. McCain is unpredictable, damaged and too old. And if you think that Americans don't support the war now, just wait until 08. I don't think picking a candidate who's supportive of, or wishy-washy on, the war, is going to be viable by then. Even Hillary may have to actually take a stand!

by anastasiap 2006-03-22 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

I agree.  But McCain will be 72 by the election.  

If we are really still in an "open ended commitment" in Iraq, a vote for McCain is a vote for the draft.  If there were ever an election  for young people (which to me, at 63, means under 40-45), it is McCain vs any Democrat.  The past versus the future.

by Mimikatz 2006-03-22 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

In other words, if that is their strategy, let them pretend.  It is hard for me to believe they could win on that, even with McCain (or maybe especially with McCain).

by Mimikatz 2006-03-22 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

Old equals "the past"

McCain would make it much easier for a Democrat to run as the "future" candidate.  

Last time a candidate really talked about the future was in '92; one candidate right now has it as a central part of his message, Warner.  Others would do well to pick this up.

by Andmoreagain 2006-03-22 11:42AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

I don't think the Bush faithfull will ever rally around McCain to the extent that he thinks they will. I think McCain has lost and humiliated himself in a futile quest to win acceptance by the Bush supporters. I have a feeling that they won't support him. I could be wrong, but I don't see it happening.

by jiacinto 2006-03-22 07:26AM | 0 recs
Does Bush's endorsement even matter

within the GOP? Even if it does today, will it matter come 2007 and the primary season? I don't see his polls getting any better.

That said, McCain is not to be taken lightly. He can and should be brought down and being Bush's heir apparant could be just the ticket.

OT: Matt, fix the spelling of hear (should be here). I don't normally believe in being the spelling police, but since this is a front page post on an influential blog...

by molly bloom 2006-03-22 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

Don't forget Jeb.

Just as dead eye dick finally and reluctantly admitted that he was the best man for the job and accepted the "draft"for veep so. I predict, the thugs will play out a similiar scam to get Jeb in.

by Rational 2006-03-22 07:37AM | 0 recs
McCain Is Not the Heir Apparent

John McCain may be sucking up at the moment, but he is not the GOP heir apparent. Nor is he the frontrunner. He is significantly more moderate than the President on everything except Iraq. His nomination by the GOP would be a disaster on most everything Bush has done.

McCain would also beat almost every democrat in a walk. His story is a great one and americans would love it.

The GOP will not nominate him, b/c it cannot control him like Bush, Jr. and Reagan. He has strong opinions on a lot of things, something that Bush does not. If he had won the GOP nomination and then crushed Bush, we would probably win the Iraq War.

McCain is a real conservative, the reason I would not ever vote for him, but he is not a GOP faithful. If you remember in the 1st term, he consponsored every bill a democrat wanted to pass.

by optimist 2006-03-22 07:52AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is Not the Heir Apparent

"McCain would beat every Democrat in a walk."

I don't think so.

Maybe Hillary, but not everyone.

by JackBourassa 2006-03-22 08:05AM | 0 recs
I am not even sure he

could beat Hil.

by molly bloom 2006-03-22 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

Am I the only one who thinks that McCain is not as strong as some others (especially in Washington) think he is?

by JackBourassa 2006-03-22 08:03AM | 0 recs
He is overestimated

In my view, he could be a formidable opponent. But he is by no means invincible.

by molly bloom 2006-03-22 01:56PM | 0 recs
I don't see it

and I think you calling this way early and with very little backing you up.  

I think liberal activists tend to give their opponents on the right far too much credit.  Getting McCain nominated would mean changing the entire culture of the conservative movement.  They have and still do see themselves as soldiers in a war.  Its an almost Leninist mindset for them: you don't criticize the leadership publically, you don't break ranks.  Conservatives will always be convinced that McCain at heart isn't with their program, and they'll be right.  And they can smell pander better than we can.

Personally, I think long run McCain would be great for American and Liberal politics.  He would be the sort of transitionary leader that would give the just now reemerging New New Left time to consolidate their policies and message to America, and reposition the Conservative side away from the fanaticism Rove and the Neocons have given it.    

by Jonathan Schwartz 2006-03-22 08:48AM | 0 recs
If we see it, it will be very bad

Personally, I think long run McCain would be great for American and Liberal politics.  He would be the sort of transitionary leader that would give the just now reemerging New New Left time to consolidate their policies and message to America, and reposition the Conservative side away from the fanaticism Rove and the Neocons have given it.

That "straight talk" media conventional wisdom gets around. Too bad for you that it has no resemblence to reality, eh?

The Real McCain

Yeah, a John McCain presidency, based on his record, should warm the cockles of everyone's heart:

....Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)...

....Ten Commandments would bring virtue to our schools. (Jan 2000)
Confederate flag is a "symbol of heritage". (Jan 2000)
Allow, but not mandate, school prayer. (Jan 2000)....

....Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001)
Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
Voted YES on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women. (Mar 1998)
Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business. (Oct 1997)
Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)....

....Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore. (Mar 2005)
Voted YES on reforming bankruptcy to include means-testing & restrictions. (Mar 2005)
Voted YES on restricting rules on personal bankruptcy. (Jul 2001)....

...Voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals. (Apr 1996)
Voted YES on limiting product liability punitive damage awards. (Mar 1996)...

...Teach virtues in all schools. (Dec 1999)
Decisions on teaching evolution should be made locally. (Aug 1999)....

....Voted NO on $52M for "21st century community learning centers". (Oct 2005)
Voted NO on $5B for grants to local educational agencies. (Oct 2005)
Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education. (Mar 2005)
Voted NO on funding smaller classes instead of private tutors. (May 2001)
Voted NO on funding student testing instead of private tutors. (May 2001)
Voted NO on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction. (Apr 2001)
Voted YES on declaring that memorial prayers and religious symbols at sch. (May 1999)....

....Voted YES on requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer. (Jul 1994)....

....Voted YES on reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act. (Dec 2005)
Voted NO on restricting business with entities linked to terrorism. (Jul 2005)
Voted NO on restoring $565M for states' and ports' first responders. (Mar 2005)
Voted NO on adopting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. (Oct 1999)...

.... Voted YES on deploying National Missile Defense ASAP. (Mar 1999)...

....Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex basic training. (Jun 1998)...

...Voted YES on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress. (Mar 2001)...

....Voted YES on confirming Samuel Alito as Supreme Court Justice. (Jan 2006)
....Voted YES on confirming John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. (Sep 2005)

 

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-22 10:37AM | 0 recs
Illustrating that McCain has a conservative voting

record isn't going to come as a surprise to me or anyone else.  I assume that any republican is going to be basically fairly conservative, and I would be surprised if anyone else didn't.  That's not really my point.  What I'm saying is that McCain would be a shift from the kind of radical neoconservatism that's been in ascendance since Reagan, and preponderantly since '94.  His nomination would illustrate that Republicans starting to move away from the sort paranoia of the left its been engaged in basically since the start of the cold war, and which I think most truly concerns most liberals.  Sure, I'd love to have a democrat in '08, but if not, I really don't see McCain as the sort of disaster some do, and in fact think it will help shift the terms of political debate further to the left and therefore support the movement we're all hoping to establish.

by Jonathan Schwartz 2006-03-22 12:18PM | 0 recs
"Just" a conservative voting record?

Try "one of the most conservative" voting records in the Senate.

I really don't see McCain as the sort of disaster some do, and in fact think it will help shift the terms of political debate further to the left and therefore support the movement we're all hoping to establish.

Oh, I see. You're one of those "if the people suffer enough they'll rise up overnight and smite their oppressors" progressives. Either that, or you work for McCain's campaign. Are you sure you didn't vote with the "no difference" naderites in 2000?

by Michael Bersin 2006-03-22 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

McCain is the front runner.  I'd bet on him over most of the Democrats.  It's still early.  There may just be some political blood in the water during the GOP primary process.

By the way, I've met McCain.  He sure looks a lot older in person than on TV.

by howardpark 2006-03-22 08:48AM | 0 recs
Age

I'd love to see polling on how McCain's national support moves when people become aware how old he is.

by Andmoreagain 2006-03-22 11:39AM | 0 recs
Whoa, hey! McCain a Bush Republican

Man, those are strong words.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-03-22 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Whoa, hey! McCain a Bush Republican

But 100% accurate ones.

by yitbos96bb 2006-03-23 07:52AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

McCain is a real threat to common decency. But I doubt he'll ever overcome that way over-baked Barry Goldwateresque Arizona winginess.

More likely it will be the dapper scoutmaster from Utah, our Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. He proves that, with enough money, you can fit a grinning ogre into a Brooks Brothers suit.

by blues 2006-03-22 11:06AM | 0 recs
not sure why

I'm not sure why it matters who Bush wants as a successor.

One gets the feeling that Bush was more selected as someone to be pushed forward as a Presidential candidate by groups within the Republican party than he really drove for the job.  I mean he had a ton of backing when he appeared in the race.  It wasn't something like Jimmy Carter in 1976 where he traveled around almost all on his own building up support for his campaign.

So its more a question of whom the coalition of groups that supported Bush will choose to support than it is who Bush wants to support.

I suppose Bush could become really vocal about whom he likes or doesn't like.  But I don't see him doing that.  Sitting Presidents usually don't.  And since his approval ratings will be down around Dick Cheney's by early 2008, I'm not sure it matters.  Having Bush not like someone may be a plus by the time that race happens.  Even in the Republican party.  

The thing that struck me about the recent polling numbers was that when asked for one word to describe Bush, 1 out of 5 Republicans said "incompetent".  He's losing his base now.

by COBear 2006-03-22 12:12PM | 0 recs
That's the media spin, all right.

I think you've bought the conventional old wives tale.

At this point, all McCain has is name recognition.  If the base has an opinion of him at all, it's "Viet Nam POW, outsider, campaign finance something or other".  

But people (non-poliwonks) haven't really started thinking about the election yet.  They'll wait until the ads start appearing on American Idol and endorsements start coming from Rush Limbaugh and Charles Dobson.  Not that those two hold sway, but they do get people talking at the gas station.

Between now and the summer of '08, a lot can happen.  The election is over 2 1/2 years away, an eternity in politics (though preparations are of course underway).  It's also a long time in a war, which means that Iraq could either be a heap of rubble or another Egypt, or anything in between.

And that will determine the victor more than who the candidates are.

by lheal 2006-03-22 02:19PM | 0 recs
Charles => James

Oops.

Charles Dobson is a progressive author.  

Pyschologist Dr. James Dobson is the conservative talk show host.  

by lheal 2006-03-22 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

McCain's strategy is to make himself acceptable to the GOP base which is the Religious right. I don't think he'll ever get any real support from these folks no matter how much he kisses Bu$hCo's butt. Maybe he's just trying to gain the owners of Diebold et als. support who knows? In any event he's almost totally discredited and shamed himself in the process. Let him tie Bu$h around his leg he'll soon find out Bu$h is a concrete block not support hose.

by Blutodog 2006-03-22 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

He is, after all, the perfect choice.  I've been worried about McCain for a very long time.  Welcome to the club.

by eRobin 2006-03-22 06:45PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

The fix is in.  McCain will be president before 2008.  Bush is going down like Mussolini (just after Cheney takes a walk and gets replaced by McCain).

by steve expat 2006-03-22 07:56PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

The Rove-direct smear campaign against McCain in South Carolina was truly one of the most disgusting things I'd ever seen...

But now that he's embraced Rove he deserves to have that campaign repeated against him in full. The race-baiting is unacceptable of course, but you know what, I think I heard that McCain lost his mind when he was tortured in 'Nam.

by rhealdeal 2006-03-22 09:53PM | 0 recs
Move Stop McCain Now

McCain is widely - and wrongly - held to be a moderate, a maverick, and a uncorruptable guy.  He is polling well, and has the ability to peel off a lot of moderate Democrats.

He may not win the GOP nod, and all this talk would be a waste, but if he does win it, waiting until June '08 to go after him would be a huge mistake.   By then the media will have crowned him, and many a moderate democrat will be lost.

Right now is the time to go after the Bush hugger who recently said he would have the South Dakota anti-abortion bill into law if he were the governor (not even Bush said he would).

by dpANDREWS 2006-03-23 04:00AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is Not The GOP Heir Apparent

he would crush almost any democratic ticket. He is not wrongly called a maverick. Remember his 2000 Campaign, he sounded a lot like Al Gore when asked about W tax cuts. He is positioning himself as more conservative, but he is a moderate conservative. He is a sharp break from these nuts.

by optimist 2006-03-23 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is Not The GOP Heir Apparent

Go look at the man's record and then come back and tell us what you find.  You are completely wrong on the guy and have allowed the Bought and Paid for Media to color your view of him.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-03-23 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

Outstanding Article, Scott!!!

I'm with you... I was ok with and even respected McCain (even if I wouldn't have voted for him) before 2004.  I was pulling for him to win the GOP Nom in 2000 even though Gore was getting my vote.  Boy was I snowed.  

The sell out act done by McCain in 2004 was one of the worst things I have ever seen.  It wasn't even the toadying to Bush that bugged me, although I lost a lot of respect ofr the man because of that.. It was the fact that McCain did not come out hardcore against Bush and stop helping him when they did the same sort of attack on Kerry.  It is hypocritical, disgusting and McCain will NEVER receive a vote from me, whether is be for President or Block captain.  Any Democrat in 2008 will have more integrity than McCain.  

I can't imagine what kind of evil smear Rove will cook up for McCain to use...  I'm sure Clark will be made out to be an incompetent traitor who lied about his record... Feingold will be made out to be an adulterer and wifebeater (Yentas for truth?)... Bayh will be accused of sex with farm animals... There is no limit to the sick mind of Karl Rove.  

McCain needs to be derailed ASAP.  

by yitbos96bb 2006-03-23 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

McCain is the choice of the mainstream media, who likes him because he's basically a Democrat. He'll never make it past the Republican base.

Look for Condi Rice to be the 2008 candidate.

Stingray:  a blog for salty Christians

by Stingray 2006-03-23 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

I've been screaming this for months now. McCain has taken his stances in order to be "in favor" with Bush. McCain wants his campaign team. So Bush is giving them to him - with one stipulation. Jebbie must be his VP pick. That way Jebbie can be launched into the next presidency. There will also be a Bush sitting guard on his brother's policies. There have been multiple meetings between Rove/Jebbie/McCain in the past few months. Personally, I think this is a dumb idea, as Jebbie will only hurt McCain's ticket. But something in me feels like McCain might bite the hand that feeds him at an opportune time. He'll end up using the Rove team, then give appearances that he's considering Jebbie, then BAM, pick someone else as VP. Will be so close to election he'll have gotten everything he can get from Rove et al.

by TallyInsider 2006-03-23 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent

Oh, and the good ol' switcherooney keeps in line with a recent dinner McCain had with top Hollywood Dems and Dean. He could be the Inside Man. He's keeping Bush close (keep your friends close and your enemies closer), building a trust, then will yank the rug out from under him when his guard is down. Let's just say I wouldn't be shocked to see a McCain/Feingold ticket. I'm full of conspiracy theories. Feingold did throw the censure thing out there without consulting other Dems. Maybe he consulted McCain? I do really really think McCain is putting on an act right now. Only way to get through the Repub base. Then back to normal.

by TallyInsider 2006-03-23 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Is The GOP Heir Apparent
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