17 March 2008 - Bring it: let the McCain-bashing commence (or continue)
As of today, John McCain is beating both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in national polls. This is something that many people refused to believe was possible only a few weeks ago. Both Hillary and Obama have been in the frontronner’s seat, and both have been hammered by the media hurricane. Now it will be McCain’s turn. And my prediction is that he’ll hold up better than his putative opponents.
One of the reasons, of course, is that his rivals are still hell-bent on attacking each other. Hillary Clinton, for example, recently attacked both McCain and Obama over Iraq, saying Obama only discovered his anti-war backbone when he began to run for President. Honestly, I never expected the Democrats to let this feud become as long-running and internally damaging as it has become. This blunts the blow to McCain.
Another reason McCain will endure is that his rivals are simply so bad at criticizing him. Hillary launched her attack from the U.S. while McCain is actually visiting Iraq. He has done so eight times. Hillary’s only been there twice, and Obama once. Hillary repeats the attack line about “100 years,” which McCain is parrying well by turning it over, jujitsu-style, and using it highlight his rivals’ lack of experience.
Similarly with the unions’ attack on McCain. Perhaps there’s something in some of the AFL-CIO’s complaints in their new anti-McCain primer. But when they get to the page on trade, where they assume that NAFTA and CAFTA are oh-so-terrible, the attack is revealed for the empty shell it is. On no other issue are the preferences of the unions in such stark contrast to the interests of American workers.
But the ultimate reason McCain will come out on top is he’s simply the better candidate. Years from now we will look back at this election, compare the two junior Senators with their knee-jerk positions and their identity politics to the statesman who was virtually the only man in America who had the courage to do what was right in Iraq and for the U.S. economy, and wonder how this was ever that close.