The 2008 Letdown
Oh Boy! Am I dreaming, or is John McCain going to be the GOP nominee for president? Please tell me I am dreaming and wake me up, please! Senator McAmnesty? Senator Gang of 14? Senator Tax Cuts for the Rich? How did this befall Conservatives in 2008?
After the 2006 elections we Conservatives made it clear we were tired of being shortchanged by the GOP didn’t we. Tired of sellouts, RINO’s, and moderates. Surely, we would get a great candidate in 2008 wouldn’t we? Surely, we would not allow the next nominee to be one of the most glaring examples of our frustration with the GOP. Surely, we would not be stuck, yet again, with holding our noses while voting yet, here we are.
So, how did this happen my friends? How is it that the two least Conservative candidates are still running while two candidates that are more conservative and one other less-than-Conservative flamed out? Well there is plenty of blame to pass around. First, there is the process we have allowed to be foisted upon us. This current media-driven way of choosing a nominee stinks frankly. It is not about ideals, issues, principles and it damn sure is not about substance.
Instead, it is about 30-second answers, quips in debates, and reducing candidates to raising their hands to questions as if they are third-graders! It is all about style, a popularity contest if you will. Consider the success of Barak Obama for example. He gives eloquent speeches, filled with talk of change, change, and more change. Of course, he is completely devoid of anything even remotely resembling plans for how to implement his changes. Ah, but the media loves this stuff, and they just fawn over Obama.
The media’s obsession with style does not fully explain the GOP situation though; there are other factors, some of them the fault of no one but failed campaigns. Rudy Giuliani, for example, saw his strategy to ignore the early primary states destroy his candidacy. Sure, he led big in Florida, California, New York, and other key states early, but other candidates, won Iowa, and New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and Giuliani, was forgotten frankly. His leads in later states evaporated, and he was doomed.
Then there is the Mike Huckabee factor to weigh. Huckabee was a non-factor early, but his strategy of courting Evangelicals by promising to do everything they wanted to hear sapped support from Fred Thompson early. One of the keys to Fred’s failure was Huckabee’s surge, which, the media, who despised Thompson, and did all it could to destroy him, made sure was front and center. Later, in Florida and especially on Super Tuesday, Huckabee really damaged Romney’s chances. Huckabee, who should have dropped out after Florida, and Romney split Conservative voters while McCain, who bombed among Conservative voters, cleaned up on moderates and independents. In my estimation, Huckabee is, and has been playing for a VP slot on the ticket, he knew he could not win, but he also knew he could derail Romney.
The third factor to weigh is the media’s coverage of the campaigns. The media did its level best to eliminate Thompson, and they were successful. They built Fred up to standards he could never attain. They beat the “Fred waited too long” drum, then they beat the “Fred has no fire in the belly drum”. Then they beat the “when is Fred dropping out” drums. They reported nothing but negative news about his campaign, even when they had to spin like tops to do it. When Fred was doing well in national polls the media told us that those polls did not matter, yet when other candidates did well in those polls, the media fawned over them. The media spun their line and too many voters bought it. Thompson was a candidate of substance, and too many Americans have been conditioned to look at style, not substance.
Romney suffered from media bias as well. When he was leading in delegates, he was never called the front-runner was he? Yet McCain received far better treatment didn’t he? Once Fred was gone, Romney was the next most Conservative candidate, and the media turned their spin machine on him. The media had great influence on voters with their spin on Romney, just as they did with Thompson. Those voters who do not take time to study candidates, or their campaigns can be swayed easily. They glance at headlines or polls, and they see McCain doing well, labeled the front-runner, even when he really was not, and they jump on the bandwagon, or at the very least, they give up on other candidates.
There is one more key factor in McCain’s looming coronation. The early states do not favor Conservative candidates. New Hampshire is an open primary, as is South Carolina. McCain cleaned up in the Granite State not because Conservatives came out for him, not at all. It was independents, and moderates that gave him a win. The same in South Carolina is true. An open primary favors less conservative candidates. McCain won those while more Conservatives candidates spilt up the Conservative votes. Had the early States been closed, and held in Conservative states, McCain likely would have been eliminated.
So, add up all the factors. The media campaigning against Thompson, then against Romney. Huckabee taking votes away from Thompson early and really hamstringing Romney on Super Tuesday. Giluiani imploding, allowing McCain to garner all the moderate and independent votes. Add it all together, and you know why Conservatives are left with the lesser of two evils option yet again.
So now what? Do you stay home? Hold your nose? Frankly, I doubt it matters; McCain will lose enough of the base to be run over in November. Get ready for four years of a Liberal administration. God help us!