The Lonely Centrist

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Naive E.J. Dionne

Here's a naive column by E.J. Dionne.

Dionne misses the John McCain of 2000. He argues that in 2000 the McCain presidential run was, "an unruly and joyous romp." This year's campaign, "feels quite different: Carefully planned, meticulously calculated" Dionne argues that in McCain has made numerous compromises in an effort to win the Republican nomination, and of course they are compromises that Dionne does not like. Dionne says that these were bad choices, made, "on calculation." The question is, on what basis did he think Senator McCain made his choices in 2000?

John McCain is a very shrewd politician, and his 2000 campaign was shrewd and calculated. McCain did what he needed to do to separate from the pack of GOP challengers to front runner George W. Bush. He started the campaign running to the right of Bush, who was the centrist candidate. Bush was the son of a President not beloved by the GOP right, talking about a "new tone" and "compassionate conservatism" and rejecting the notion that the government should be made smaller. McCain was touting his voting records with Right to Life and the NRA. But the right was crowded territory, with Dan Quayle, Lamar Alexander, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, and others all competing for conservative support. When Liddy Dole's campaign fizzled early, and when McCain discovered how smitten the press - that is, people like Dionne - could be with his campaign finance position and his willingness to tell the press what the press wanted to hear about conservatives (whose votes McCain wasn't getting anyway), he quickly moved left. Bush, in trouble after independent voters helped McCain score big in New Hampshire and then Michigan primaries, moved right, fast. But make no mistake - John McCain's campaign was as calculated as they come, from the "Straight Talk express" to his bashing of Pat Robertson.

Perhaps Dionne should be another contender for the most naive man title.

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