Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Shift in the wind

So I've just been watching a few minutes of Meet the Press this morning: it's James Carville sitting next to Mary Matlin and a few other Republican strategists. I had assumed that it would be everyone piling on Carville, but no -- it was actually everyone piling on Matlin instead, and *that* may be a really interesting sign of the times.

The topic is John McCain (the polls are now showing that he's increasingly likely to win big on Tuesday), and the argument may well be the best encapsulation of the current Republican party, because it's basically Matlin -- representing the now-traditional ideological side of the Republican party -- against several pragmatists. She was clearly pissed-off at the way the election is playing out, because McCain is probably going to win the primary without needing to appeal to the conservative base all that hard: instead, Huckabee and Romney have split much of the hardcore conservatives, allowing McCain to win with the more moderate chunk of the party. He's winning despite the fact that the loudmouth kingmakers in the party have all vocally opposed him.

The other Republican commentators on the show, OTOH, were fairly sanguine and pragmatic about the whole thing, making the point that McCain is the one candidate who has a chance in the general election, and that the loudmouths will suck it up and fall in behind him when the time comes. *They* look frankly kind of gleeful at the prospect of the kingmakers not calling the shots this time.

And I wonder if that's really what this election is going to be about for the Republicans: the fall of those behind-the-scenes demogogues as the Powers That Be, in favor of more old-fashioned practical politics. It's telling that this is all swirling around McCain, who *is* a conversative in every important respect, just not a party-line fanatic. If he wins the primary, it's going to be nail in the coffin of the conservative litmus tests; if he wins the election, it'll probably seal that coffin, and be a fine humiliation for the kingmakers.

I still don't want McCain to win, mind -- he *is* way too conservative for my tastes. But if he pulls the Republican party a step or two away from fanatacism, that'll be a genuine positive effect...
Tags: politics

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