He'll be back
By Joe Schembrie
Did you think that Super Tuesday ended John McCain's quest for the Presidency? Maybe you saw the primary results and thought: Stick a fork in this guy -- he's done, he's toast, he's road kill!
Ha! This guy has more lives than a villain in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Knock the Schwarzenegger villain off the side of the building, he comes back. Shoot him, drive an axe through his skull, he comes back. It takes at least three tries to get rid of the bad guy -- not counting sequels.
John McCain is the indestructible terminator/zombie of American politics. He was supposed to be politically dead after Iowa -- then after South Carolina. You think Super Tuesday will keep him buried? Wait 'til the sequel!
The ballots were still being counted, and already pundits were buzzing: McCain could run for President on a third party ticket. Some burial!
Sure, he said he wouldn't run as a third party candidate. But he also said he'd stop Catholic Voter Alerts. He said he'd suspend negative campaigning. And when Drudge reported last year that McCain was going to run for President, McCain retorted, "He must be smoking something!"
Let's parse McCain's 'campaign suspension' announcement: "I love my party, it is my home. Ours is the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan. That is good company for any American to keep. And it is a distinct privilege to serve the same cause that those great Americans dedicated their lives to."
Did your eyes fill with tears -- or were you busy rolling them? In the private sector, when an employee rhapsodizes this effusively about his loyalty to the Company -- you just know he's sending out resumes!
McCain may have been thinking 'defection' ever since Michigan. Yes, Michigan was a great victory -- but exit polls foretold a grim primary future, with only one out of three Republican votes. Too few open primaries remained for Democrats and Independents to countervail. The same media love affair that won him the Middle had irrevocably lost the Right -- and with it, the nomination.
There just may have been method after all in his Virginia Beach madness against the 'religious right.' Sure, his bitterness cost him California and New York, but the nomination was already out of reach. The sooner he could end his GOP campaign, the sooner he could begin his Third Party crusade. And by bashing not only the Republican Establishment but the Republican rank-and-file itself, McCain won the undying affection of liberal journalists and pundits. They may personally vote Gore, but they'll always have a soft spot for Johnny -- which presumably will reflect in their coverage.
But this really isn't about McCain. It's about American Politics' Little Man Behind the Curtain -- Ross Perot.
How coincidental! The Reform Party this year is in fragmented disarray, unable to choose a candidate, awaiting the signal from Kingmaker Ross to unite behind a Man on Horseback. Wonder who that will be?
How coincidental! Ross Perot's vice presidential running mate in 1992 was a former Vietnam POW (Vice Admiral James "Why Am I Here?" Stockdale). Who better to hide behind than another war hero?
How coincidental! Just as people were getting suspicious of the way that Perot, in the name of Reform, was always splitting the vote and handing the White House to a sleazy Democrat -- along comes a media-hyped Republican insurgent to take over the charge! Who would ever suspect a conservative Republican of wanting to help liberal Democrats?
Just one question -- when Johnny Mac is the Reform Party presidential candidate, will he condemn the biggest donor ever of soft money to the Democratic Party?
No, I don't mean Bernard Schwartz, Chairman of Loral Space Systems, whose lifetime contributions to the DNC amount to perhaps a paltry two million dollars.
I mean Ross Perot -- who every four years dumps seventy million dollars into a phoney presidential campaign designed to split the conservative-populist vote and enable a corrupt liberal Democrat to occupy the White House by default.
I can't contribute one thousand and one bucks to a candidate for dog catcher without the Campaign Reform Gestapo suspecting me of attempting to corrupt the entire US political process. But Ross Perot can invest seventy megabucks in manipulating a presidential election -- and where are the calls for reform?
Somehow, I don't think that McCain will make a big stink over Perot's campaign spending. The man who is too proud to be George W. Bush's running mate will have no qualms being Ross Perot's puppet.
Yes, McCain may have said, "Get out of here!" to Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife -- but in his heart he was thinking, "I'll be back!"
And so he will -- and he's bringing the Little Napoleon with him.
Joe Schembrie is a senior writer for Enter Stage Right.
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