So who’s going to win, McCain or Obama?
Good question — and some updated thoughts on veep choices. But first a reminder that 15 months ago this space predicted a McCain-Clinton race, and got things half right.
She blew it.
Yes she blew it. She entered caucuses she shouldn’t have (such as Iowa) and let Obama go practically unchallenged in too many others. She found herself overmatched in fund-raising. She had all that Clinton luggage, including her husband. And she ran up against one of the smoothest orators — rhetoricians — the nation recently has seen.
In her January 2007 announcement for the presidency she said: “Let the conversation begin. I have a feeling it’s going to be very interesting.”
It wasn’t particularly. Despite a lot of throat-clearing, she never really found her voice — maybe because in this whacked-out Democratic Party to speak forthrightly about what one believes is to alienate the moderates the party must attract to win.
OK. OK. So how big is Obama’s margin over McCain going to be?
Whoa. Obama’s principal accomplishment is to be the first multiracial American to secure a presidential nomination. Other than that, he has spent three unachieving years in the Senate — two of them hungering after the presidency. Since March he has coasted, performing poorly in the primaries (losing most of the big ones to Senator Clinton), and dancing around in his version of Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope.
Surely you . . .
No, I don’t jest. And in the past months he has spent a good deal of time retreating from his church and his pastor of 20 years who preaches the racial separatism Obama says he doesn’t embrace. Oh, and retreating from his call for unfettered meetings with our most virulent enemies.
But isn’t Obama going to sweep the boards? What about those stupendous rallies of enraptured college students? What about record turnouts in the Democratic primaries? What about the polls? And what about a press that represents him as the best thing since the Beatles?
A press full of Obamatons is the same press that goes goo-goo over every leftie it accords a chance to win. Polls don’t mean much at this point: In May 1988 ,Michael Dukakis led Bush I by 19 points. And turnout? There’s little that correlates high party turnout in the primaries to victory for that party in the fall.
Usually the out-of-power party generates higher primary turnout yet fails to win in November. Even though Democratic primary turnout in 1988 nearly doubled Republican primary turnout, Dukakis ultimately lost. In 1972 George McGovern won the nomination with big Democratic turnout, but in November — against Richard Nixon — he lost 49 states.
And the record lows for President Bush? And the nation’s sour mood — with eight in 10 saying the country is headed in the wrong direction? They don’t suggest an overwhelming Obama win?
Problems for McCain, certainly. Yet he’s the Republican running, not Bush — though even now Obama is casting McCain as a “Bush lite” who would give the nation, in effect, a third Bush term. McCain is less another Bush than Obama is another McGovern or Carter or Kerry or Gore.
The outcome is going to depend largely, as it should, on how the presidential campaign goes — on how the McCain grinder processes the Obama baloney. It also will depend on how many cranky Republicans withhold their votes from McCain, and how many Hillary Democrats (currently one-quarter in Ohio say they will, and one-third in Florida) dis Obama for McCain.
In his inky babble about “history” and “change,” Obama conceals his desires for surrender abroad and higher taxes at home. What — really — would he do to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of a predatory Iran? Does he truly want to invade Pakistan? What sorts of individuals would he name to his cabinet, other high administration posts, and — critically — the federal courts?
So who is going to win?
Either Obama narrowly or McCain in a McGovern-like blow-out — depending. It will come down to what happens to the baloney in the grinder.
And will the vice-presidential choices matter?
Probably not much. But some possibles for Obama are Sen. Jim Webb or Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia (or former Virginia Governor Mark Warner), or retired generals Wesley Clark or Merrill McPeak. For McCain, don’t be surprised if the choice is a sitting governor (Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, or Sarah Palin of Alaska, or Charlie Crist of Florida), Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor — or, yes, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. And here’s perhaps the ultimate McCain wild card: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.