Not that what I wrote had anything to do with this, but I did suggest that McCain could begin to mend fences with conservatives by attending CPAC personally this year. In that post, which was mostly about McCain’s dishonest denial regarding his having said that he’s weaker on economics than other issues, I suggested three things McCain could do to start working on his heavily damaged right flank: Getting rid of Juan Hernandez, rejecting the NYT endorsement and attending CPAC. One out of three. It’s a start, I guess. McCain infamously skipped CPAC last year and was booed in absentia for it and rightly so. He sent the unmistakable signal last year that he did not need and did not want conservative support. He’ll face a hostile crowd at CPAC this year, but just showing up will say quite a bit. Not enough, but quite a bit.
So this year with the nomination and the election and thus among other things the war on the line, McCain will attend CPAC in person. Presumably he’ll address the attendees, who by then will have a clearer picture of where the race stands thanks to Super-Duper Tuesday on February 5. Presumably he’ll say something that’s worth listening to, but more importantly he’ll have to show with actions between now and then that he really doesn’t hate conservatives. Presumably he’ll draw out real contrasts between himself and the Democrats. Presumably he won’t find a way to give CPACers a finger in the eye. Presumably he knows that without the base he can’t win, and even if he could win he won’t be able to govern for long if he doesn’t have the party’s base with him. Hopefully he’s not kidding himself into thinking that Maverick will enjoy peace with the Democrats no matter how much he’s tempted to give them.
I’m sure it will be a fine speech, but as the saying goes actions speak louder than words. Actions now and words at CPAC won’t heal the rift between McCain and conservatives, but it might help.