During the 2000 presidential election, I had a heated television interview with John McCain. It was about his contention that the C130 aircraft, used as our nation's primary means of moving military equipment and supplies, should be phased out. He advocated dispensing with the planes, which to this day are of vital importance in operations such as the Iraq War. I thought his position reflected a grudge that he held against certain military aircraft manufacturers, and was shortsighted.
Within a matter of minutes, what was supposed to be a relatively uneventful 30-minute broadcast turned into a clash between the two of us. Sen. McCain suddenly displayed that "other side" of his personality for which he is so famous -- or notorious -- among his congressional peers in Washington. He got indignant.
So as well as anyone, I know McCain can be myopic on certain issues. I also suspect that many of his Senate votes have been about his personal dislike for political opponents. His vote against the Bush tax cuts might qualify as an example. (He now rationalizes that vote by saying he refused to check off on any tax cut that wasn't accompanied by big cuts in federal spending.)
On tort reform, McCain fought his fellow GOP Senate mates. Whether he'll acknowledge it or not, he's had a surprisingly cozy connection with the Trial Bar -- a key Democratic donor constituency -- and thus at times has grazed up against the trial lawyers' philosophical proclivities in appointing judges.
And so, they hate him: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and the old-guard Republican establishment.
Coulter has already trumpeted that GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is not only liberal, but also not very bright. She says she'll campaign for Hillary Clinton if Clinton is the Democratic nominee and Huckabee the Republican nominee.
Coulter presumably might find herself disappointed to be in Hillary's camp when she finds out that Hillary is unlikely to be an unabashed supporter of the Second Amendment, or of the "Flat Tax," as Huckabee is.
Rush is a pundit king I've always personally liked and viewed as usually being on target, or close to it. On Feb. 6, he was railing against all those misguided Republicans that, for some inexplicable reason, aren't voting as he believes Republicans ought to.
So I put this question to Republicans everywhere: Do you hate John McCain, too? Are you willing to sit at home on Election Day in November, or hand out leaflets for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? For conservatives, what's the cost/benefit breakdown of having the unworthy McCain as your candidate or your president, or having someone from the Democratic side instead?
Obviously, I can't speak for individual voters. But I can shed a ray of light on what some of these talk-show hosts and megastar writers would lose with a President McCain -- access and money.
If McCain's relationship with the Republican "superstars" of the post-Reagan era has been frayed up until recently, now it's been shredded for good.
What might that mean to those who make their money bashing "liberals," and often with inside information from their buddies in high places? If McCain were to become president, it would mean the gravy train is starting to congeal into something less palatable to the refined tastes of the pundocracy.
Let's take it another step forward. What if a presidential nominee McCain chooses as his vice-presidential running mate the hero of the Bible Belt, Mike Huckabee? The guy who Coulter considers a dim-witted liberal? Boy, that would sure win her a lot of new fans in those red meat-eating Southern states where her books sell so well.
Maybe a good number of Republicans will vote for Clinton or Obama if McCain is their opponent, but I doubt it. Once Republicans started comparing the Democratic policy agenda with that of that devilish rebel McCain, they'd pause in their thinking. McCain would start to look to conservatives as the last roadblock on the way to massive tax increases, universal health care, immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and heaven knows what other "progressive" fantasies.
And as for the superstars of the GOP world of talk radio and mega-selling books, they would be back, too.
Why? Because they can't afford to let their own party pass them by. It would deflate their airborne egos and drain their wallets.