Senator John McCain, the scourge of many conservatives, won the first primary open only to Republicans. Stunning many observers, the Republican from Arizona won most of the Republican votes, showing that he’s not just the Republican Democrats love, but that he’s the Republican Republicans think can win.
His victory speech was full of important buzzwords: “conservative,” “unite the party,” “come together.”
Sounds vaguely like….Barack Obama?
In fact, McCain, while trying to get well with the conservative base, is also talking the Obama talk about post-partisan politics and “uniting the country.”
Conservatives might be rolling their eyes, but it’s genius. Why? 1. Because it’s working; and 2. Because the mood of the country is inclusive, not exclusive. This is why Obama’s message has gained such traction. McCain—the much-maligned renegade—-is tailor-made to co-opt it. No, he’s not “establishment,” and yes, he’s been off the conservative reservation on a number of important issues—like tax cuts and illegal immigration. But Reagan wasn’t “establishment.” Neither was George W. Bush. Bob Dole was, and look at what happened to him. McCain has spent a good deal of time “fixing” his past positions on the Bush tax cuts and immigration, and he should make a speech centered on those two issues to further persuade uneasy conservatives.
But he’s going to win, not just because he’s got the greatest appeal to moderates and Independents and not just because he’s a war hero, but because he can do the “unity” theme as credibly as Obama can.
His Florida victory speech was gracious and temperate, proving the point.
On the flip side, the Junior Senator from New York gave a most bizarre “victory” speech, without an actual victory to celebrate. The Democratic party had punished Florida for moving up its primary date by pulling all of its delegates, meaning Hillary’s “win” gave her zero delegates. And yet, she stood, microphone in hand, and said, “I could not come here in person to ask you for your votes, but I am here to thank you for your votes today,” she said. “This has been a record turnout because Floridians wanted their voices to be heard. I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure not only are Florida’s Democratic delegates seated but Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in 2008.”
If you didn’t know what she was doing, you would have thought the woman was going full-on Britney crazy. The method to her madness? She was doing her best to look like a “winner,” even though she wasn’t. The Junior Senator from Illinois wasn’t going to let the Junior Senator from New York get away with it: his team snappily said it was a tie because they both got no delegates.
By the way, she was wearing yellow and black again. She’s obviously listening to the radio show and channeling my appellation for her: Queen Bee.
So, here we go, toward Super Tuesday. The war hero is now the clear frontrunner on the Republican side. He will face the Junior Senator. But which Junior Senator will it be?
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