Clinton and Obama are not instantly dismissible as presidential contenders, but both have obvious shortcomings. Neither has a military record worthy of the name. And neither has ever held an executive office (e.g. governor) in the arena of politics. Of the two, Clinton has served longer in the Senate, but neither she nor Obama has left any significant mark there. And McCain has been a senator for 22 years -- nearly twice as long as both of them combined. And yet the grim fact is that McCain, if indeed he is the Republican nominee, will be running in a year when the very stars in their courses seem set against a Republican victory. I mentioned earlier that the GOP suffers the very serious burden of an unpopular war. Yet McCain has made support for that war one of his major issues. Credit him with immense courage for doing so -- I happen to believe he is absolutely right -- but there is simply no denying that his support for the Iraq war will be an almost certain liability when he is running against a Democratic candidate pledged to pull us out of that conflict as soon as possible.
Add to that the aforementioned fact that 2008 is a likely Democratic year in any event, and one begins to perceive the dimensions of the mountain McCain is going to have to climb.
One can point to a few hopeful signs. Above all, there is the fact that McCain has gotten as far as he has. He has also trimmed his support for illegal immigrants and pledged to preserve President Bush's tax cuts. Republicans generally seem to have accepted him as their tiger and will work hard for his election. But I am sure he wishes this were some other year.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
Be the first to read William Rusher's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.