Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Is the McCain Presidency Inevitable?

The goddess Fortuna does not ordinarily arrange for her favorites to spend five-and-a-half years being tortured in a prisoner-of-war camp. Nevertheless, the Economist may be on to something when it calls John McCain the “luckiest man in American politics.” Not only did he secure the Republican nomination seven months after his campaign nearly collapsed. Now, with a little more than seven months to go before November, it is becoming increasingly clear that Barack Obama cannot lose the Democratic nomination, and cannot win the general election.

In today’s Politico, Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen argue that Hillary Clinton “has virtually no chance of winning” the Democratic nomination. One Clinton advisor, off the record, estimates her chances against Obama as no better than ten percent.

The reason? Race. Clinton’s only path to the nomination requires Democratic superdelegates “to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency. . . . An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else. People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.”

There might be a semi-plausible pretext for the superdelegates to take the trophy out of Obama’s hands and give it Clinton if she wins the larger number of all the popular votes cast in all the primaries and caucuses from Iowa on January 3rd to Puerto Rico on June 7th. The Politico’s Ben Smith got out his calculator, however, and showed that Clinton will need “well over 60 percent of the vote” in the remaining states where she is likely to win. So far in 2008 her best states have been Arkansas, where she was first lady for 12 years and won 70 percent of the vote; Rhode Island, which gave her 58 percent; and New York, which she has represented in the Senate since 2000 and where she received 57 percent.

Why is Obama unlikely to win the general election? Again, race. Even before the Jeremiah Wright controversy became front-page news last week, there was growing evidence that despite all the talk about his post-racial candidacy, Barack Obama is not the Tiger Woods of politics. As VandeHei and John Harris pointed out earlier this week, Obama has won a majority of white votes in several states, including Wisconsin and Virginia – a historic achievement.

In the Ohio primary, however, held before Jeremiah Wright became a household name, Hillary Clinton took 64 percent of the white vote. Similarly, Obama has finished first among Latino voters in only handful of states, none of which have particularly large Hispanic populations.

John McCain is well-situated to appeal to “Reagan Democrats” – working-class whites who didn’t go to college, and Latinos. His heroic patriotism will appeal strongly to the former, especially against an opponent whose pastor invites his parishioners to scorn America. And McCain’s support of immigration reform will allow him to contest the Latino vote.

Obama’s Wright problem, for the general election, is that it gives voters in both these blocs, who might otherwise have felt guilty about voting against a black candidate, a way to do so with a clear conscience. There is nothing racist about voting against Obama anymore. Now, it’s just a matter of voting against a politician who feels comfortable around spiritual leaders whose views are as poisonous as Ward Churchill’s.

Michael Barone recently argued that the polling data are inconclusive as to whether Clinton or Obama would run the stronger race against McCain. His examination of the state-by-state data, however, shows Obama’s general election vulnerability. “Obama may be a stronger candidate than Clinton in Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Iowa,” he writes, “but he looks far weaker in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and Missouri.” The trouble is that the five states where Obama looks particularly strong have a total of 41 electoral votes, while the four where he looks “far weaker” have a total of 67. Thus, McCain would get a net advantage of 26 electoral votes from those nine states voting in November the way their poll numbers look now. By contrast, John Kerry had an advantage of four electoral votes from these nine states, 56 to 52, in 2004. We’ve heard for weeks about the steeper slope facing Hillary for the nomination. It’s getting steeper for Obama in November, too.

Discussions - 14 Comments

Not inevitable...Hillary Clinton beating Guiliani in the general was "inevitable".

Eh . . . I wouldn't get too optimistic, Republicans.



For one thing, keep in mind that the Democrats, regardless of Barack Obama, are poised to do well in the 2008 Congressional elections which will give further leverage to an already Democratic legislature.



In reference to the very probable Obama vs. McCain Presidential election: the noxious tones from Wright will fade. White, working class "Reagan Democrats" are also worried about more than patriotism these days. The economy, the growing gap between rich and poor, the high costs of health care, the poor condition of public schools, the continuous hikes in college costs, and the war are all issues which the majority of Americans still feel can be best handled (as of right now) by Democrats.



"100 Years of War" McCain might be able to deal with some of these topics, but he's going to have to do a lot more than just be a good, white war veteran.

And let's not forget that the MSM is preparing a barrage of negative stories on McCain. And we can be certain they have at least one story designed to create a campaign crisis in the last few days before the election.

I predict in this election cycle we will see the MSM drop nearly all pretense of objectivity and campaign nearly non-stop for Obama.

McCain can win this, but not with one hand tied behind his back. If he chooses to run that way, he loses, barring another 9-11 or worse.

3: Don -- yes. It could get more blatant than ever.

Come late Summer and October, the donks(who have a boat load of cash) are going to start running the same teevee ads over and over again showing bush(the most hated president in modern times) and McCain in one of their "manly" love fests with "Do you really want 4 more years of this?"

And it's true -there is little to distinguish McCain and George W Bush. The EMM-ESS-EMM will jump on this in a heart beat! 3-2 odds now say that the next pres. will be a donk.

I predict in this election cycle we will see the MSM drop nearly all pretense of objectivity and campaign nearly non-stop for Obama.

How would that be different than what they did for Kerry in 2004?

Some people forget, or do not know, that in addition to surviving as a POW for five and a half years, McCain also survived the US Navy's greatest catastrophe since World War II--the near loss of the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal on "Yankee Station" in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam. 134 sailors died as a result of this tragedy

As a strike was being readied for launch on 29 July, 1967, an electronic malfunction on an F-4 Phantom on the flight deck caused the accidental launch of a Zuni missile, which slammed into the 400 gallon belly fuel tank of an A-4D Skyhawk, fully loaded with ordnance. The ruptured tank spewed JP-5 aviation fuel, which ignited and spread over the flight deck. This began a chain reaction as bombs and missiles exploded, leading to a conflagration. The ordnance that didn't explode right away "cooked off."

The first two fire fighting teams were wiped out by explosions. Volunteers then manned the fire hoses. Many of the volunteers perished as well. But the amazing bravery of the sailors prevented the fire from spreading to the magazine. Had that happened, it is likely the ship would have been lost.

The goddess Fortuna was smiling on the US Navy that day, as well as Lt. McCain. That has to mean something, don't you think?

Mac Owens: "That has to mean something, don't you think?"

Matt Mingus: "Nope."

I agree with Matt ... what McCain did 40 years ago is of almost no consequence to the race coming up. Recent behavior weighs more heavily.

Ohio Voter: "How would that be different than what they did for Kerry in 2004?"

It's a matter of degree. I recall the 2000 election and noting with some surprise how the MSM was becoming more obvious in their support for Gore. It was much more obvious than it was in 1992 (1996 doesn't count -- that wasn't a race so the MSM didn't need to do any heavy lifting).

And then in 2004 the MSM notched it up even more in support of Kerry.

They have discovered that the public more or less accepts the bias, and -- most noteworthy -- their efforts still produce results. The MSM can in large part steer the narrative of the election.

The MSM is going to beat on McCain like a cheap drum ... his age, his "anger issues," his lack of support among "the Republican base," his lack of support among "evangelicals," his problems with conservatives over immigration, his connection with Bush, and his support for the war in Iraq. They'll revisit the Keating episode and suggest there are lingering ethical issues today.

It's going to get ugly.

"Now, it’s just a matter of voting against a politician who feels comfortable around spiritual leaders whose views are as poisonous as Ward Churchill’s."

And voting FOR, who, exactly, Mr. Voegeli? The guy who feels comfortable around, and seeks endorsements from, spiritual leaders with poisonous views like John Hagee and Rod Parsley (both of whom, I hasten to add, surely have far more influence than the axed professor Ward Churchill)?

"And let's not forget that the MSM is preparing a barrage of negative stories on McCain. And we can be certain they have at least one story designed to create a campaign crisis in the last few days before the election."

Say, Don in AZ, why don't you indulge in a little conspiracy-theorizing while you're at it?

Come on that's just silly on its face, particularly in a thread that mentions Obama's "Wright problem" - a problem which, let's face it, the "MSM" (cue Dittohead booing and hissing) hardly avoided giving plenty of coverage to. I read and saw a lot of coverage regarding Rev. Wright in various MSM sources, some time before Obama's speech.

what McCain did 40 years ago is of almost no consequence to the race coming up.

I find this interesting and strange. (Of course, Don in AZ says "almost no consequence.") But what I did 40 years ago has a lot to do with who I am. You?

McCain never said he wants 100 years of war in Iraq.

He said we might have a presence there for a long time (100 years was more a metaphor for "a long time" than a literal time projection), comparable to our decades-long-and-counting presence in Germany, Japan, or South Korea NOT that he would want us waging war in Iraq for a century--waging war and having a military presence are two very different things, and McCain was talking only about the latter. Not only that, but retired USAF general McPeak, Obama's military advisor, made a very similar statement about Iraq a few years back. Maybe Obama should check with the general before repeating this distortion of McCain's position.

The center-right blogosphere has known about and reported on the loony Reverend Wright for some time, but the story didn't "break through" to the MSM till Brian Ross's recent televised report on ABC News, which featured video clips. So either the MSM is lazy and inept, and was scooped by a bunch of much less heavily resourced folks in the blogosphere, or the MSM is filled with people who are in the tank for Obama and who were accordingly ignoring the Wright time-bomb, desperately hoping that it would somehow just go away if they maintained omerta about the racist psycho who has been their favorite candidate's "spiritual advisor" for 20 years.

A good thread, mostly. As to the Duke's last comment, all I can say is however many there were in the MSM who knew about the Wright stuff and who understood how radioactive it was, (and the second requirement of intelligence there might have made that a pretty exclusive club, given innate MSM bias-blindness) that this was VERY low-lying fruit. ANY one of us could have broken this story. But as we non-journalists have lives to live, every political journalist in America, perhaps especially the conservative ones, should be hanging their heads quite a bit lower after this one. I will even gently suggest that someone like our own Joe Knippenberg, given his Obama/religion expertise, would benefit by asking himself, "How did I miss this? Why wasn't I the one, despite my full-time non-journalist job, who broke this story?"

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