“Will McCain make nice to the right?” wonders the Journal. “What for?” counters Barnett. No one this side of Victor Davis Hanson believes him when he says he gets it now on, say, immigration (which, incidentally, he doesn’t). Hence the folly of offering him tips on how to win over conservatives at CPAC. He can’t and won’t, so he might as well start positioning himself for the general by easing away now from his Reagan revolution charade and inching back towards the middle. Let Maverick be Maverick:
When a candidate gets the nomination, he’s supposed to tack to the middle. Insisting that McCain make a mad dash to the right to soothe bruised feelings of the past is insane. If McCain follows that path, he’ll turn his underdog campaign into a hopeless one. It may pain conservatives to admit this, but McCain’s positions on water-boarding and global warming are more popular than those held by the Republican mainstream. Unless we want McCain to diminish his chances at victory, we should be encouraging him further into the middle.
Also, it’s not like McCain can find an olive branch long enough to appease his more vehement critics. The estimable Victor Davis Hanson came to McCain’s defense yesterday, arguing, “The McCain animus apparently transcends ideology. He has admitted his mistakes on immigration, and would not raise taxes, while his ACU ratings are good, and his ADA/ACLU scores are lousy.”
As usual, Hanson’s analysis is spot on. McCain’s critics on the right don’t trust him. There’s nothing that McCain can say or do in the next nine months that will make them trust him. A John McCain guarantee not to raise taxes will always be greeted with derisive grins in many corners. And there’s nothing the senator can do to change that dynamic.
Exit question: How’s McCain supposed to do this when Dean’s guy and Huckabee haven’t folded their tents yet? If he reverts to form too soon, he risks either taking his boot off of their necks or building up so much ill will among conservatives on his way to the convention that he fatally wounds himself in terms of Republican turnout in the general.