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Monday, December 12, 2005
The Inevitability of McCain--Updated!

Pat Hynes reports on Republicans grudgingly coming to terms with the idea of a McCain-led party in 2008.

According to several sources in Washington, DC – all of whom have, at times said things drastically critical of the Arizona Senator in my presence – McCain is the GOP’s only hope in the post-Bush era.

“The national environment has gone to s—t and Republicans are going to take a beating in 2006,” one prominent Republican consultant – who is a movement conservative -- told me recently. “McCain is the only guy out there with the credibility to maintain Republican control in Washington.”

There's a temptation to dismiss this post as overly pessimistic, and indeed there are reasons to believe that the Republicans are not headed for a debacle in 2006 and beyond. First, as I've pointed out on several occasions, President Bush did not have long coattails in 2004; hence it is unlikely that Republicans are holding a lot of risky seats. Second, a lot of it may be based on current conditions. But if gas prices continue to drop and things stabilize a bit in Iraq, we could see a dramatic improvement in Republican fortunes. Third, McCain will be 73 in 2008, and has had health issues in the past. He may be in no condition to run three years from now.

But this is important as a snapshot in time. I don't think there's any doubt that Republicans who have access to internal polls are seeing disturbingly negative trends. I hope that our guys are urging President Bush to continue to push back against the Democrats. We can tell it's working by the way they're hollering.

Update: Kitty asks in the comments about the bulge on the left side of McCain's face. I'm embarrassed to admit I hadn't noticed it before, but here it is quite noticeable:

My guess is it's just jowls. McCain did have a few melanomas (patches of skin cancer) removed from his face a few years ago; not uncommon for Arizona, which has the highest rate of melanomas in the US (due to the extraordinary amount of sunny days we get).
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