“Is John McCain Bob Dole?”

“Is John McCain Bob Dole?”


    Could the GOP be repeating the mistake of 1996?

Anybody thinking of betting on John McCain for the White House should take a look at one or two articles recently that have started to draw parallels between his presidential bid and the last time the Republicans chose a candidate in his early 70s – Bob Dole.

Like McCain Bob Dole is a war hero having won two purple hearts and one bronze star. Only a few weeks before the German surrender in 1945 was seriously injured while engaged in combat in Northern Italy. When he won the nomination in 1996 he was even older than McCain – 73. Bill Clinton went on to win his second term by a massive margin.

The latest edition of New York magazine (hat tip Taegan Goddard PoliticalWire) carries a long critique by John Heilemann on the McCain campaign which is best summed up in the following extract.

“….Yet for all the hosannas being sung to him these days, and for all the waves of fear and trembling rippling through the Democratic masses, the truth is that McCain is a candidate of pronounced and glaring weaknesses. A candidate whose capacity to raise enough money to beat back the tidal wave of Democratic moola is seriously in doubt. A candidate unwilling or unable to animate the GOP base. A candidate whose operation has never recovered from the turmoil of last summer, still skeletal and ragtag and technologically antediluvian. (“Fund-raising on the Web? You don’t say. You can raise money through those tubes?”) Whose cadre of confidantes contains so many lobbyists that the Straight Talk Express often has the vibe of a rolling K Street clubhouse. Whose awkward positioning issues-wise was captured brilliantly by Pat Buchanan: “The jobs are never coming back, the illegals are never going home, but we’re going to have a lot more wars.” A candidate one senior moment—or one balky teleprompter—away from being transformed from a grizzled warrior into Grandpa Simpson. A candidate, that is, who poses an existential question for Democrats: If you can’t beat a guy like this in a year like this, with a vastly unpopular Republican war still ongoing and a Republican recession looming, what precisely is the point of you?..”

Latest betting on who will be next President is here. My view is that until now there has been almost no examination of McCain’s weaknesses and whoever comes out top in the Obama-Hillary contest will end up as President.

Mike Smithson

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