I have criticized the Clinton campaign for, in effect, supporting McCain over Obama.  I would join in the criticism of Ferraro’s idiocy, and would, at least in part, join in rejecting the recent temper losses by Obama surrogates.  They are unseemly, they make us look like a bunch of Republicans going “vote for me because my opponent is a *&#$^.”  Hillary and Obama should be stressing ‘vote for me because I’m good, I can do the job, I will stop the Republican horrors of the past eight years, I have ways of making the country better.”  There isn’t even a major difference between their basic positions, really — though here experience in getting things done is Obama’s strongest point.  The Clintons DID cave on too many important areas.  (But then they didn’t have the Democratic majority we can expect in the next Congress.)

But one argument I haven’t and can’t make is that, ‘if we keep it up, McCain will win.”

No, he won’t.

(why do I say that?  look beneath the fold.)The Republicans are a very shaky coalition of different interests, none of which really go together.  Somehow, all of them saw Bush as their champion, and worked with him — and even then, in 2004, with the advantage of incumbency, with the reluctance of people to change horses in mid-stream during a war, and with substantial playing of homophobia and the swiftboating,

GEORGE W. BUSH WON 50.7% of the vote.

50.7%

only 3 million more votes than John Kerry, not one of our strongest candidates.  (And he didn’t even win the popular vote in 2000.)

Can McCain top that?  Let’s look at some of the factors in the Bush win.

The Bush family. Okay, we may hate all of them, but there was an ex-President, a governor, and a very popular first lady all working for him — and they all had influence, campaigning skills, and ties to the money givers.  They might have supported Georgie (“Okay, he’s not so bright, we wanted Jeb, but he’s family.”).

Will they support a man who attacked George in 2000, who has never liked him or them?  Well, McCain doesn’t seem to care much if they do. His recent declaration that Charlie Crist was ‘one of the greatest governors in the history of this country’ might not be a hint that he’s considering choosing him as VP, but it was one hell of a slap in the face of Crist’s predecessor.  Remember him?  His last name was Bush.

The Religious Right: No, they aren’t dead, they are still a force, but Falwall and Kennedy ARE dead, Robertson is no longer taken seriously by anybody, Haggard is in disgrace, and Parsley’s failure to elect Ken Blackwell shows his influence is waning.  Their followers have found others sure, but are they going to get out and vote for McCain?  Look at the votes Huckabeee got right up to the end, 30% in some states, even when everybody knew McCain would win.  Join ranks behind someone who once attacked their leaders, no matter how much he’s pandered since them?  I don’t think so.

Of course he’s got Hagee, who has attacked and offended Catholics, gays, women, blacks and whose ‘Christian Zionism’ hides a really nasty anti-Semitism if anyone looks close.  I think I could beat McCain on the Hagee issue alone.  (“You say you don’t support everything Hagee stands for, but that implies you support some things.  Which of these statements and actions of Hagee do you support?”  followed by a list.  Tell me, Sen. McCain, why you don’t think that someone like this with his hateful, hate-filled ideas, should be denounced and rejected, as Sen. Obama did with Lewis Farrakhan, as Sen. Clinton did with Lenora Fulani?)

The homophobes:  Even if Sen. McCain doesn’t backtrack on his support of Charlie Crist — who in fact has been ‘the sort of Republican Democrats could vote for’ but who also happens to be gay — I’m not outing him, he’s never made a big deal of hiding it, he’s never played to the homophobe vote, he brings his partner to state functions, and it was brought up in the gubernatorial debate of 2006 — he’s never been someone to play to prejudices like this.  (In this he’s a lot like his predecessor, Barry Goldwater.)

And it’s four years after the ‘gay marriage election.  Homophobia — like most bigotry — ‘skews older.’  To put it simply, a lot of the homophobes have died, and the new generation of voters — many of whom went to schools with GSAs — simply is much less homophobic.  And again, it’s four years later and we have become increasingly more visible and ‘familiar’ and thus less threatening.  Hopophobia still exists, like racism does, but it is becoming more and more a minority opinion, and the recent murders have only made the homophobes less acceptable — in much the same way as the murders of Goodwin, Schwerner and Cheyney and Viola Liuzzo and the dogs of Bull Connor made racism and segregation less acceptable.

The ‘no-taxers’ might not like the Democrats, but its hard to believe they will heartily embrace McCain that strongly, and their history is as good sources of money, not votes.

The ‘Republican Establishment’ doesn’t trust McCain — the ‘maverick’ who really isn’t, but is an unpredictable loose cannon.  And much of that ‘establishment’ includes his fellow senators, and they simply can’t stand him.  (To quasi-quote Ari Fleischer speaking as a CNN analyst on Super Tuesday “McCain’s the sort of guy who walks up to you, sticks his finger in your chest and bellows ‘I’m right and you’re wrong and here’s why.’ This is not the way to make friends in the Senate.

The radio hate machine:  They’ll come around, eventually, and support McCain, but enough of them, including big guns like Limbaugh and Coulter, have attacked him so strongly that their later support will blow the fuses in at least some of their hearer’s tiny brains.

The war supporters — okay, McCain keeps them, but the war continues to be unpopular, and every community that has a son or daughter come home in a flag-draped box will think twice about ‘100 more years of Iraq.’

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Add to all of this the fact that the country is tending Democratic strongly, as shown by registrations, party switching, and particularly the recent by-election for Hastert’s seat, the economy is shaky and tanking — always good for Democrats, because we can fix it, Republicans only make it worse — and McCain is showing his age more and more (I think I was the first person in the blogosphere to suggest McCain will drop out before the convention ‘for reasons of health’) and the simple contrast between him and either candidate is so striking.  (Some people McCain’s age — I’m approaching it, btw — come across as ‘experienced senior citizens’ who have gained wisdom from their years.  Others, and McCain is one, come across as sadly befuddled, sour ‘old men.’)

So we aren’t having a contest for the Democratic nomination.  We’re having a contest for the Presidency.

Will Hillary and — to a much lesser extent — Obama (and mostly their surrogates) stop the nonsense and act like it?

Prup aka Jim Benton

Prup aka Jim Benton