The Drudge Report played a nasty joke on Tuesday with the headline “McCain Eyes 2016 Run”, the implication being that the 2008 GOP presidential nominee was entertaining a possible third campaign for the White House.
And as absurd of an idea that is considering McCain’s pitiful record as Republican standard bearer and his advanced age, just the thought of him seeking the presidency almost sent me into a state of apoplexy.
But upon clicking on the link, Matt Drudge’s punchline became apparent: that the Arizonan was mulling a fifth term in the United States Senate, not a presidential bid.
Not since Wendell Willkie (a former Democrat and one-time FDR campaign contributor) has the Republican Party made the mistake of bestowing its presidential nomination upon someone with so much contempt for the party base.
McCain defined the last gasps of his 2000 battle with George W. Bush by trashing evangelical leaders in a desperate attempt to gain traction with moderate voters in states that haven’t voted Republican since the Rubik’s Cube era. He followed that up by not immediately squelching John Kerry’s overtures that he join him on the Democratic ticket in 2004.
Having been a registered Republican since the day I turned 18, I have seen the GOP put up some awful candidates for president; all of them received my vote but the only one I truly regretted voting for was McCain.
Not that I would have under any circumstances supported Barack Obama, my conscience weighed heavy on me while standing inside the voting booth as I contemplated voting for the Constitution Party slate or the petitioned ticket of Ron Paul and Barry Goldwater, Jr. (who appeared on the Louisiana ballot without their consent).
However, I justified pressing the button for McCain as a technical vote for the bottom-half of the GOP ticket (the same logic I employed in voting for Bush-Quayle in 1992). But in light of the manner McCain has conducted himself since 2008, not even Sarah Palin’s shared presence could get me to reenact that vote today.
Though his candidacy was marginalized by the party establishment, I was hoping J.D. Hayworth would have knocked McCain out in the party primary in 2010. It’s easier to rotate a clod out while it’s hard to change out a permanent fixture.
After posing as a conservative, promulgating insincere rhetorical gems such as “build the danged fence” and receiving assistance from the woman his top aides savaged in leaks and “make up all” interviews, McCain reverted to old form as the most prominent Republican critic of conservative Republicans.
My first hope is that McCain will choose not to run as he will turn 80 before election day.
Though this is probably the main reason why he will seek another term as he has nothing else to do but bask in the limelight of established media and feel important.
Also his departure from the public eye means his media-star wanna be potty-mouthed daughter Meghan will finally slip into the political oblivion she would have never emerged from had her father not been the kind of man she decried Congressman Mark Sanford for being.
So McCain will most likely stand for re-election in 2016.
My second hope is that conservatives will leave him alone.
Now unless you didn’t read the first 500 words of this column and just skipped to this part, go back and read it. For those who have been reading from the beginning, allow me to explain this seeming logical incongruity.
McCain will be on the ballot in a presidential election year. Being a former party nominee (with my grudging consent), any full-scale attempt to dislodge him from office during a primary will turn into a media circus, transforming an Arizona US Senate primary into a national campaign and further highlighting the divisions within the GOP.
At a minimum it will be an enormous waste of money spent by grassroots activists in a near hopeless campaign when that money could be better channeled in winnable house and senate primaries in other states. One stodgy establishment politician is not worth a dozen new constitutional conservatives.
At worst, McCain is defeated and he becomes a martyr paraded around by the Democrats much like how Republicans exploited the primary defeat of Joe Lieberman to make the other party look foolish and extreme.
And I do not want to give McCain any excuse to hit the Sunday morning shows touting his “former colleague and good friend from New York” in the general election, or worse yet at the Democratic convention.
Rather than challenge McCain in the primary, conservatives should hit him where it will really hurt by fielding a TEA Party independent in the Arizona general election to ensure McCain behaves throughout the general election.
Out of pure necessity, McCain should be tolerated yet ignored to the point he is consumed by cobwebs. Not one red cent should be wasted on giving him the attention he craves via support or opposition.
McCain should be treated as relevant of a figure in this party as Walter Mondale is across the aisle.