Sunday, December 17, 2006

Trouble for McCain and Romney?

George Will points out that the two seeming Republican frontrunners for the 2008 presidential contest, John McCain and Mitt Romney, both have potentially serious credibility problems that will need to be addressed if either is to achieve electoral success.

McCain has a war problem: his advocacy of more troops for Iraq, while principled, runs counter to American public opinion and the recommendations of the much ballyhooed Iraq Study Group. Romney has a domestic policy credibility problem: his statements on issues of importance to social conservatives, gay marriage and abortion, seem inconsistent with those he has made in the past, making him appear to be an opportunist.

Romney's problems likely will cause greater difficulty. Modern communications, including blogs, are making it more difficult to change sides to a diametrically opposed position without offering at least some rationale for the flip flop. In addition, while much of the country believes they know McCain, Romney will be accused of inconsistency at a time when the electorate is just beginning to learn about him. Finally, regarding McCain and the war, it appears that the president is more likely to adopt the Senator's position than that of the Iraq study group. Should larger troop levels be successful, McCain will be able to claim credit. If, heaven help us, the changes are not, McCain will just say that the Bush plan changed too late.

While crystal balls are admittedly blurry when viewed two years prior to an election, the upcoming presidential contest would appear to be McCain's to lose. McCain's voting record as a whole is conservative enough to regain the trust of those on the right that he has alienated, and his crossover appeal is strong among independent voters and moderate Democrats who are ready for a known quantity to be elected President. McCain is famous for his hot temper and occasional lack of discipline. If he can keep those personal flaws in check, he will likely be the next President of the United States.

By the way, that is analysis, not an endorsement.


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