Alternate headline: “McCain rival maybe a little too maverick-y.” John McCormack’s touting this as a potential campaign-ender, but is it really? It’s FUBAR, sure, but hasn’t JD already been thoroughly kookified by McCain’s attack ads, including one describing him as among the very dumbest members of Congress? Crankishness was priced into the value of his political stock long ago. Besides, most of the people who are still with him at this point are surely diehard McCain-haters, prone to shiver at the mere mention of the word “Maverick.” Hayworth could don a Lesko jacket and jaunty Willy Wonka top hat and start spinning like Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music” shouting “freeee moneeey” and that crowd would still vote for him.
He’ll dip a few points in the polls and almost certainly lose to McCain in August, but reports of his political death are, I suspect, greatly exaggerated. As for the fact that the self-styled tea-party candidate is caught on camera here encouraging federal handouts, I don’t see that as fatal either. Remember, according to that NYT poll of tea partiers back in April, 62 percent think the benefits of social security and Medicare outweigh the costs. They may hate government handouts in the abstract, and they may bristle at the prospect of diverting more taxpayer money to failing corporations in the form of bailouts, but when it comes to the working joe getting a little out of the system he’s been paying into his whole life, they seem reasonably serene. Exit question: On a scale from one to 10, how much damage is done here?