When did John McCain go from being an also-ran to being a serious contender, and eventually the Republican nominee (as tonight’s wins effectively assure, despite the valiant campaign run by our hero, Mike Huckabee)? One man’s opinion: the turning point in the 2008 Republican campaign came on December 27, in a land far, far away. When the news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto reached American ears, a whole lot of people began to think about issues of national security. Not Iraq; that’s been on our minds for some time. But the shock of the death of Bhutto brought home once again to Americans that we live in a mighty dangerous world (at least to Republicans; the notion doesn’t seem to have dawned on Democrats, hell-bent as they seem to be on nominating the most singularly unqualified candidate in my lifetime—more on that later). John McCain, for his good and for his faults, is the Republican candidate who best seems to understand that, and best seems prepared to deal with it. If you go to the polls, you’ll note that McCain’s resurgence began in the days just following Bhutto’s assassination.

Would John McCain be the Republican nominee if Benazir Bhutto were still alive? Who knows, but my guess is that the answer is “no”.

2 responses »

  1. Don says:

    Present company excluded of course, I’m wondering how many people in America today are really paying that much attention to things happening outside the boundaries of their own personal existence. Given the number of so called “undecided” (code for uninformed) and “independent” (code for noncommitted) voters that are supposedly flocking to the McCain camp, I’m wondering if it’s a bit less sophisticated then that. There is a school of thought that in the Republican party nominees tend to follow a “pecking order” to some degree. In other words the party tends to nominate whoever is next in line. Maybe it’s as simple as saying it’s McCain’s turn.

  2. Byron says:

    It’s hard to say, but I discount the “Bob Dole Syndrome” in this case (you refer to it as a “pecking order”). Bob Dole is the clearest example of this; he never had a snowball’s chance of beating Bill Clinton, but the Republicans felt it was his “turn”, yada yada yada. I don’t think that’s going on here, simply because of the way things have played out. Something caused a massive, sudden surge in John McCain’s favor; he went from being dead in the water, nearly broke, laying off staff people, etc., to suddenly winning New Hampshire and taking off. He was running like fourth or fifth in the polls, much unlike a “Bob Dole”, and then, just after Bhutto was assassinated, his numbers skyrocketed. That’s why I think there had to be some turning point.

    It seems to me that the Bhutto assassination reminded people of the nasty, dangerous world we live in, and John McCain, for all his faults and foibles, reminds them of a sheriff who won’t be messed around with.

    And boy, if it’s Barack the Wonder Boy vs. McCain in the fall, the contrasts are going to be stark.

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