Also posted at orange
No, it’s not because he is a former P.O.W. and conservatives like that in a candidate, and it’s not because he’s a self proclaimed “maverick”. Harold Myerson thinks it’s because he exemplifies, to conservatives, an alternative to Rovian Politics.
(I think you need a [free] subscription to WaPo to read this, I’ll take a few fair use paragraphs below for those that don’t want to provide WaPo an email address)
After acknowledging that neither Romney nor Huckabee will not be nominated, Mr. Meyerson writes:
McCain’s successes so far reflect not only his appeal as a candidate but also the bankruptcy of the conservative agenda and political strategy that have steered the Republicans for many years.
Not a bad sentence, and I would have said the same thing given a better command of the English language. It seems that conservatives have, over the past few years, become aware of certain facts concerning what was once a very comfortable and smug false sense of certainty in the infallibility of their own superiority.
They “knew” that Iraq had something to do with 9-11.
They “knew” that Saddam Hussein was personally a direct threat to National Security.
They “knew” that Iraq was aiming their nukular intercontinental ballistic missiles at our beloved east coast national monuments and had to be invaded to protect us.
Time has a funny way of shifting paradigms. Conservatives don’t like looking stupid. They don’t like promptly admitting that they were wrong.
They really don’t like being duped by those they trust and the intellectual conservatives have come to the realization that Rove played them like rats following the piper.
Speaking about McCain’s campaign, Harold Meyerson says this:
A more direct affront to the Republican strategy devised by Karl Rove — to build support within the party’s right-wing base and then try to win over just enough moderates to carry elections — cannot be imagined.
McCain’s whole campaign is anti-Rovian. His core supporters are Republican moderates and Republican-inclined independents, and then he picks off enough conservatives to prevail.
Is this an indication that the non-fundamentalists in the Republican tent are finally ashamed that they once supported a liar, a traitor, a chicken-hawk, a VietNam era cover my ass coward?
Is McCain’s VietNam courage the antidote for this shame?
One more bit from Meyerson – ’cause I like his point of view here:
With his preemptive war and seemingly permanent occupation in Iraq, and his attempt to privatize Social Security, George W. Bush pushed American conservatism past the point where the American people were willing to go — pushed them, in fact, to the point where they recoiled at the conservative project. And with that, American conservatism shuddered to a halt. In the 2005-06 congressional session, Republicans still controlled both houses of Congress, yet they introduced no major legislation.
This exhaustion of conservatism has been apparent all along in the Republican presidential contest, where the chief point of agreement among the leading candidates has been to make permanent both the Bush tax cuts for the rich and our occupation of Iraq. The conservative agenda has been winnowed down to supporting what remains of Bushism. That’s not only a losing formula for November, it also means that intellectually, conservatism is running on empty.
There it is, my suggestion for the RNC theme song – Running on Empty.