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Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I Was Right...

Okay, I gotta gloat a bit. I backed the winner, the winner came through. It wasn't exactly like the New England Patriots' season, but we'll take getting to the Super Bowl. And don't kid yourself, it's over.

Let's see, when did I endorse Senator John McCain, the Next President of the United States of America? Oh, I remember it was about 420 days ago:

I do not make this decision lightly. Many of my friends in the center-right blogosphere despise John McCain, and I myself have been quite acerbic about some of the things he's done in the last six years.

There are two ways to interpret the election results from Tuesday. One is that many conservatives, feeling betrayed by the Bush administration on their pet issues, stayed home to teach the Republicans a lesson. The other is that moderates abandoned the party. My feeling is it was a little bit of both.

But we really don't have the time to figure it out. The presidential election of 2008 is already imminent. I have very little doubt about whom the Democrats will nominate, and it ain't Tom Vilsack. The results on Tuesday virtually guarantee that if Hillary wins, she will have a Democratic congress as well.

This election is too important to blow. We cannot nominate someone that the right wing of the party will support whole-heartedly in the twin hopes that:

1. They will come out and vote.
2. They will more than offset any votes lost in the center.

Wow! Sometimes I do hit the bullseye.

I won't deny that there were times when I despaired of my guy's chances. But I sensed something was happening in early November:

I know I'm virtually alone in feeling this way, but I have an inkling that events are working out well for John McCain. Fred Thompson seems to be struggling; the other day he had to beg for applause for one of his speeches. If the race boils down to Giuliani and McCain, I like John's chances.

By early December the pieces started coming into focus on the board, and all of a sudden I started to see how things would unfold:

Remember the old bumper snicker from 2004: Dated Dean, Married Kerry? That's what's going on here, and you can see it in Fred Thompson as well. The Republicans are doing everything they can to avoid marrying the logical candidate, John McCain. They want to be swept off their feet, and so they swoon at the new face. Fred, of course, has turned out to not be the man of their dreams and so they're flirting with the next beau. But inevitably Huck turns out to have feet of clay as well.

I'm not saying that the rise of Huck is good for McCain. It certainly indicates that even at this late date, the Republicans are looking around for dessert rather than eating their peas. But it's even worse news for guys like Thompson and Romney. Huckabee's not going to be the nominee, but he could help trim the field a little.

So okay, I did kinda get that right. I only wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that John McCain had no chance of winning the Republican nomination.

Even before Iowa what did I say?

Much as I'd like to attribute it to factors within the campaign, I doubt that would have been sufficient if the party in general had not started coming back to McCain. He was right on the biggest issue of 2007, the surge in Iraq, and he was right early. If that had not worked, no amount of bus rides and phone calls to local talk show hosts would have turned the campaign around.

I'd call that dead on the money. I made my next prediction over at the JREF forum:

Huckabee and Fred Thompson realistically have very little chance at the nomination, although Huckabee's got a decent shot to take Iowa. Thompson has shown none of the "fire in the belly" that a person needs to win the presidency; his campaign peaked before he actually entered the race. Huckabee's constituency, the Christian conservatives, are an important segment of the Republican party but they are not large enough to get Huck the win once a few of the other candidates drop out.

Romney's biggest advantage is his personal wealth; unlike the other candidates he has a credible operation in every state and could sweep the board if he gets an early win or two in Iowa and New Hampshire. But if he fails to win those states, he'll be in trouble because his campaign depends on that aura of inevitability.

McCain is still in the running; he needs Huckabee to win in Iowa and to pull off the upset himself in New Hampshire; either is eminently possible. McCain's big edge is the same as Edwards: Electability. Polls consistently show him doing better than any of the other GOP candidates in a head-to-head matchup against Hillary, Obama or Edwards.


And of course, after that I got quite prescient indeed, with the possible exception of Michigan.

So you have a choice in life; you can listen to El Rushbo, or any of the other drive-along media who told you John McCain didn't have a chance. Hey, I listen to them, too because they're entertaining.

But if you really want to know what's going on? I've got my finger on the pulse of America's politics.
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