In a recent article on Politico Alex Isenstadt reveals that John McCain is going around the country promoting candidates and trying to shape the field of GOP hopefuls for the 2010 election in his moderate conservative model. Clearly the GOP is ripe for change and there is a great push from the grassroots, but where John McCain got the idea that he should guide that change or that he even retains any political relevancy is absolutely mystifying.
As a leader McCain has a legacy of having doubled back on virtually every admirable position he ever held, running a truly incompetent presidential campaign and losing one of the most humiliating defeats the GOP has suffered since World War Two. His current political philosophy appears to be one of tolerating excessive spending and pandering to the religious right, pretty much the same policy as George W. Bush which got us into the mess we are currently in and paved the way for the extreme left to take the White House, Senate and House. When this is what he has to offer, why would anyone listen to him.
Isenstadt pegs the answer pretty well. It’s money. McCain is tied in to the corporate donors and wealthy country club Republicans who are the last of the old guard. They don’t see him as threatening the way they see rogues like Palin and the rising grassroots elements in the party. McCain is safe and predictable and can be counted on, and when all you want is influence with a party desperate for power, you’ll pay for that. So McCain can raise milliions for his hand-picked candidates and give them a financial advantage to offset their ideological bankruptcy.
To me it seems like those donors are throwing good money after bad. McCain sure didn’t give them value for their investment in his campaign last year, and though he may have an easier job delivering results next year, those results are unlikely to really strengthen the party. Now don’t misread me. I’d rather have McCain’s kind of candidates in office than Democrats, but they will be weaker candidates than those who are rising fromt he grassroots with youth and enthusiasm and a dedication to real Republican principles of smaller government and individual liberty. If we get a mix of the two types of candidates elected that’s not so bad. But if McCain’s hacks start squeezing out better candidates in important races that’s going to hurt the party in the long run.
The real question is what gives McCain the authority to do this. He shouldn’t have enough legitimacy to hail a cab, much less pick candidates. The party ought to be watching his efforts very closely, because his interests and the best interests of the party as a whole may not be the same. Official party organizations like the NRSC and the NRCC and the RNC should be fulfilling this role, not McCain, and they should be basing their decisions on what the party membership wants, and overwhelmingly that is not more of the same and certainly not more of the failure which taints McCain’s career. The rank and file want real change and a return to core Republican values and that’s not what McCain is offering.
McCain thinks he can steal a victory in 2010 based on the failures of the Democrats and spending a lot of money on key races, but that’s not going to be enough. The Democrats are not the only enemy. The complacency and loss of focus of the Republican party is as big a problem. We need to put our own house in order before we will really beat the Democrats, and we can’t do that so long and McCain continues to promote the failed politics of equivocation, pandering and corruption which has marred his career and which so clearly failed during the last 8 years.
McCain is not someone Republicans who want a great future for their party should be listening to. He’s like a noisome ghost who needs to be exorcised, embodying all the mistakes which need to be undone and all the bad ideas which need to be cast aside. McCain represents the status quo and the status quo is currently one of abject failure. Anyone who cares about the GOP and its future ought to be shouting for McCain to get out of the way and let the party go through the change and renewal which it so desperately needs.