The Rise of McCain


Yesterday’s elections open the door on the 2008 presidential race with John McCain front and center for the Republicans. Once laughed off by Bush, detested by many in the military, and vilified by the right wing Christians, McCain has stayed the course and now is in a position to organize a strong race for the presidency in 2008.

To an unknown degree this will depend on the Arizona senator’s health (he has melanoma). He will have to contend with a far more conservative group of Republicans in the House, who will be demanding sharp curtailments on spending. These are people, for example, who wanted to drastically curtail what little the federal government made available for Katrina victims. This conservative cadre is unlikely to be in the mood for bipartisan deal making, and can conceivably force a greater degree of separation between the parties.

Some conservatives already are threatening to throw wrenches into the House machinery with stalling tactics and other measures. These may be idle threats, but giving the GOP record in running a backbench, that can’t be counted on.

“There’s going to be a batch of people who are going to personally owe McCain and there’s going to be another batch of people who are going to have to rethink their view of him,” Michael McKenna, a Republican strategist and pollster, told the Washington Times.

Democrats almost surely will try and extend the Medicare drug plan and get behind an immigration bill which provides a mechanism for illegals to obtain citizenship. Dems can reopen their internal fight over free trade with the old Clintonista centrists arguing for free trade measures, and progressives, in the past led by Dennis Kucinich and others, against such steps.

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  • James Ridgeway is a former senior correspondent at Mother Jones and a 2012 Soros Justice Media Fellow. For more of his stories, click here.