With John McCain pretty much guaranteed to be the Republican nominee (there’s still time for him to have a Howard Dean-style meltdown or some health issues), it’s time to recognize the reality of the situation and start looking at some of the fun and entertaining possibilities that can come from having him carrying the GOP banner.
First up, it makes his choice of running mate that much more important. In 2000, 1992, 1988, 1984, 1976, 1972, 1968, 1964, and 1960, former and sitting vice-presidents won their party’s nomination. (OK, I’m cheating in 1992, 1976, 1972, and 1964, as they were sitting presidents at the time, but lemme get away with it.) McCain is old, and he has not had the healthiest life. He may simply not want to seek a second term should he be re-elected, leaving his vice-president as the heir presumptive. And even if McCain loses, the prominence given to his running mate will make him a major contender in 2012 even without the advantage of executive incumbency.
Second, last week there was a flurry of rumors that McCain would resign from the Senate at some point to devote himself fully to the campaign. That panned out for now, but there is a precedent: Bob Dole, another severely wounded veteran, gave up his Senate seat in 1996. On the flip side (so to speak), we saw John Kerry not even bother to phone in to his Senate job when he ran in 2004, and it left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. If McCain were to do so, that would immediately put a ton of pressure on the Democratic nominee (be it either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama) to follow suit.
Now, if McCain were to leave the Senate for a failed presidential bid, he’d most likely retire. But Obama is still relatively young, and Clinton has a need for power. Getting either of them out of the Senate would not only be a good thing, overall, but would put a serious crimp in their political ambitions. Neither have shown any interest in having to earn a living in the dreaded private sector; they’d rather hold office and make their money writing books, giving speeches, and the like. (Or, in the case of Hillary, allowing Bill to get into all sorts of questionable foreign deals to keep the bucks pouring into their joint accounts.)
Third, it would put the “chicken hawk” twits in their place. In a rerun of 1996, it would be a case of a genuine, certified war hero running against someone who has never served in the military. IN a refreshing change from 2004, we most likely would actually NOT focus on who did what almost 40 years ago, and instead on what they would do in the future.
I’m not overly thrilled with John McCain (I first backed Fred Thompson, then Mitt Romney), but he’s a damned sight better than either Clinton or Obama. And he has the potential to make either (or both) of them very, very uncomfortable. That is certainly enough to make him worthy of consideration.