"There’s been plenty of speculation since self-described Democratic-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman started stumping for Sen. John McCain in December that Al Gore’s 2000 runningmate might reprise that role for his Republican friend," the WSJ reported three weeks back. In the wake of McCain's "monster lead" following Super-Duper Tuesday, Scott Ott of ScrappleFace is suggesting Fred Thompson's the one. Above, former Senate colleagues John McCain and Fred Thompson (AP photo)
"Nothing in America is inevitable. We are the captains of our fate. We can overcome any challenge as long as we keep our courage and stand by our principles," Super-Duper Tuesday's Republican man of the hour John McCain told supporters and the immediate universe in his Victory Party speech last night [via A Second Hand Conjecture]. The words were what we disaffected freedom-loving, small-government-embracing, invisible-hand-holding types thought we'd never hear from the free-speech-restricting, anthropogenic-global-warming-proseletyzing, economics-challenged frontrunner who is enjoying what Shepard Smith is calling a "monster lead" over rivals Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Who knew the proprietor of the
Fast-Talking Straight Talk Express had principles? According to Reason Magazine's Michael W. Lynch [via Transterrestrial Musings] in a 1999 profile of McCain, "The Good Soldier," it depends upon what your definition of principles is:
"I'm fundamentally a deregulator, a free-trader, a free-enterpriser," says McCain, as he begins to rattle off a list of libertarian bona fides. "Most of my efforts have been to reduce the size of government. I spend weeks every year trying to turn back pork-barrel projects. I fought 10 years for the line-item veto. I believe in smaller government, the best government is local government . . ."
Yah, except when it isn't:
"The tobacco deal, and perhaps for some, campaign finance, is not in keeping with my [conservative and libertarian voting record]," McCain admits, in a bit of an understatement. The question is what this high-profile apostasy says about a man who clearly wants to be president . . .
Asked what he wants people to think when they hear his name, he says "principled" without hesitation. Press accounts are salted with quotes from McCain and his admirers about how he "does what's right."
As with principles, it depends upon what your definition of what's right is, as Lynch explains:
For John McCain, principle is fundamentally about honor -- personal honor: about keeping his word, about doing what is right and doing it well. "Principle" combines honesty, stubbornness, and loyalty. This notion of principle is very different from adhering to a consistent political philosophy. It explains McCain's popular appeal, especially in contrast to the exceptionally dishonorable Clinton administration, but also accounts for the distrust, even contempt, he inspires among the ideologically committed.
"In the end," concludes Lynch [this was 1999, remember] "it looks likely that McCain's maverick sense of virtue will keep him from any serious run for the presidency":
Although his bravery and charisma might serve him well in a general election, GOP primary voters care about political consistency. The party's traditionalist and libertarian wings may bitterly oppose each other, but they both profess a definition of principle that is bourgeois, impersonal, and quite foreign to McCain. It is not enough to be honest, stubborn, and loyal.
Our principles are bourgeois and impersonal? We beg to differ. They are heartfelt and based upon a lifelong study of human nature. As for McCain himself, we're sure he's stubborn and loyal. Honest? Once again, we guess it depends upon what your definition of honest is. Then there's what George Bush Pere called "the vision thing":
When the [Weekly] Standard's [Andrew] Ferguson tried to nail him down on his vision, McCain replied: "The first thing I'd do is convene the best minds I know of in the field of foreign policy . . . I'd say, `Look, let's figure out where we are, where we need to go, and what our conceptual framework is. Let's work out a cohesive foreign policy.' I'm sure that those people, with their collective brilliance and a lot of experience, could come up with a very cohesive foreign policy."
Relying on experts "goes well with a military background," says Rahe. "The Navy and Air Force see the world as engineers, a series of technical problems that need to be fixed." McCain, who repeatedly calls on the authority of experts to justify his positions on issues ranging from foreign policy to tobacco, fits this pattern well.
In that context, Scott Ott's "Team America Strategy" on how McCain can beat the Democratic nominee begins to make sense:
A Democrat-nominated inflatable porpoise would pull at least 49 percent of the popular vote in a general election. So, what chance does maverick McCain have against a ruthless machine like Hillary '08, or a well-organized, well-funded messianic movement like Obamamania?
Short story: Sen. McCain can't do it alone . . . but Team America could. The Team America strategy calls for the war hero to run as Commander-in-Chief, and to surround himself with Lt. Generals who compensate for his weaknesses in almost every other area.
Fred Thompson on as vice president to serve as the Constitutional conscience of the administration -- an ideological gravitas behemoth -- who can do for President McCain what Dick Cheney has done for President Bush on foreign policy . . .
Mitt Romney reminds voters of "the guy who laid them off." This is, of course, precisely the kind of guy we need to tame our bloated bureaucracy . . . as director of the Office of Management and Budget . . .
Rep. Tom Tancredo, the stalwart champion of secure borders and respect for the rule of law, would naturally serve as director of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (formerly the INS). Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani could head up the Department of Homeland Security.
Now that's an administration we could get on board with. One final note -- as we ourselves suggested here the other day for the self-professed economics-challenged Senator McCain -- from Betsy Newmark: "I think a lot of politicians would benefit from getting a tutorial from Thomas Sowell."
Update: Welcome, Instapundit readers! If McCain's nomination doesn't kill us, it will make us stronger.
Update II: Welcome, Maggie's Farm readers!
Update III: Welcome, fellow asylum inmates. Dr. Sanity is in.