Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review March 13, 2000/ 6 Adar II, 5760

Charles Krauthammer

Ch. Krauthammer
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
David Corn
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports



McCain in 2004 -- FROM THE 2050 EDITION of the "History of the English Speaking Peoples," revised, by Winston Churchill VI:

Most interesting of all was the American election year 2000. On Jan. 1, there were four plausible candidates for the presidency. At which point John McCain sequentially (1) destroyed Bill Bradley, (2) bloodied George W. Bush and then (3) immolated himself. The last man standing was Al Gore. On Jan. 20, 2001, he was sworn in as president, sporting the grin of a man who could not believe his dumb luck.

Why did McCain commit hara-kiri, gratuitously throwing away a quarter of the Republican electorate with his attack on the Christian right? It was not tactical--he forfeited the support of social conservatives while gaining nothing in the center. (In Ohio and California, those who found McCain's views of the religious right important voted 8 to 1 against him.)

It was personal.

McCain made the cardinal mistake of any presidential candidate. In politics as in the Mafia, there is business and there is personal. McCain could not make the distinction.

The one essential quality of winning candidates is discipline. Al Gore is so disciplined he acts like an android. George W. Bush does not quite have Gore's steel, but he had enough old veterans around him to sit him down and march him out with a new mantra after New Hampshire (the shamelessly plagiarized "reformer with results"). That was his story, and he has had the wisdom to stick to it ever since.

John McCain does not sit down for anybody. He improvises. He reacts. Willfully. And willfulness--the very quality that kept him alive as a prisoner of war--brought him down as a presidential candidate. When he sustained all those low blows in South Carolina, he took it personal, as they say on "The Sopranos." And that's when he lost it.

In the aftermath of Super Tuesday, there was some loose silly talk about McCain's running as a Reform Party candidate. Surely Ross Perot would love to have him. It would give respectability to a party of kooks and cranks. But it would just as surely be the end of McCain. Not just because Perot's party is the last refuge of the politically disturbed but because McCain gave his word that he would support the Republican nominee.

One of this week's losers--either McCain or Bradley--has a political future. One of them is going to see the man who beat him suffer defeat in November. If it is Gore, Bradley, who ended his campaign on the classy high road where he started it, and who is still young, would be a plausible choice for 2004. Al Gore, after all, was soundly defeated in 1988; Nixon (for the California governorship) in 1962.

If Bush loses, it is McCain who has a future. If in November the party establishment brings down on Republicans their third consecutive defeat, the man who charted a different course for the party, more centrist and less beholden to the social conservatives, is going to look very good the morning after Election Day.

McCain is in a position to be the Ronald Reagan of 1976: the insurgent making a run at the establishment, falling short, grudgingly supporting the nominee, and then having his vision of the future of the party vindicated by his rival's defeat in November.

Like Reagan, and unlike Bill Bradley, McCain is in no great hurry to endorse the man who beat him. McCain is not very good at obeisance. He can bide his time and deliver the endorsement after a decent interval--at the convention, for example, when it will have maximum impact. Reagan, after all, kicked off his '80 campaign with his stunning '76 convention speech.

McCain, 63, is just young enough for that.

Reagan was 65 in '76. McCain, however, has suffered physically more than most men his age. He might think that this is his last chance. It isn't.

For six months he ran a brilliant campaign (until South Carolina). He remains a national figure with a national following.

If what he said about George W. Bush's weakness turns out to be true, he is the Republican front-runner as of Nov. 8.

And as he learned to his chagrin, campaigns are infinitely more forgiving for front-runners.

Comment on Charles Krauthammer's column by clicking here.


03/06/00: McCain off course
02/28/00: Profile in Courage
02/16/00: Europe's Austria Hypocrisy
02/14/00: A Winner? Yes
02/07/00: Politics in a Golden Age
01/31/00: Why Elian Should Stay
01/21/00: A Network Sellout . . .
01/14/00: Screwball Psychologizing
01/07/00: Desperately Seeking a legacy: Peace of the Anti-Semites
12/10/99: Born to Run
12/03/99: Keep Bubba home --- and his mouth shut
11/29/99: Not for Moi, Thanks
11/19/99: Where's the 2000 Buzz?
11/12/99: Reluctant Cold Warriors
11/08/99: Federalism's New Friends
10/29/99: The Phony Battle Against 'Isolationism'
10/25/99: Still With the Soul Of a Candidate
10/18/99: Nixon On the Couch
10/11/99: Slouching Toward The Center

©1999, Washington Post Co.