“Prup,” a frequent commenter at The Carpetbagger Report, thinks I underestimate the damage John McCain did to himself by repudiating Hagee and Parsley. With his permission, I’m posting his note.
It was much worse for McCain than you mentioned. Let’s face it, the Republicans would have stayed a permanent minority if it weren’t for the votes of the Religious Right. They’ve made the difference in many states, both for President and for down-ticket offices. And they are the basis of Republican GOTV efforts, they don’t just vote, they work for the Republicans as volunteers, talk to ‘friends and neighbors,’ etc.
So look at what JMcC did to them in just one day:
First, he throws both Hagee — who is viewed as a bit of a nut by many in the RR — and the much more “influential” and “respected” — in those circles — Rod Parsley “under the bus.” (And don’t underestimate Parsley, or judge him by the craziness in his speeches. He isn’t just on TV everywhere — even on broadcast in NYC — he’s a very experienced political operator. He might have been the most important person in the rise of Ken Blackwell — and thus of Ohio going for Bush in 2004. If the split wasn’t a sham, McCain has made a major enemy.)
The same day he appears on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, thereby — in RR eyes — not just “legitimizing” her as a spokesperson, but “legitimizing” — to some of them — the whole “gay agenda.” What’s worse, he’s obviously comfortable in her presence instead of “shrinking from the satanic stench of her perversion.” And finally, when the question of gay marriage comes up, and she gets the chance to cast it as a “civil rights” matter, McCain doesn’t even point out how “destructive her position is to heterosexual marriage.” In fact, he merely states his disagreement with her without defending his position at all.
Then it is announced that he is in the “open audition” period for VP. Think what the RR would think if they realized that his first 3 candidates are:
*Charlie Crist, a gay man;
* Bobby Jindal, not just of South Asian origin and ‘darker than Obama’ but also a conservative Catholic who has expressed support — in his campaign — for the idea that “outside the Church there is no salvation” and many of the other attitudes towards the Reformation I was taught in pre-Vatican II Catholic school; and
* Mitt Romney, a Mormon
Okay, now that he has alienated a substantial part of the RR, who may still vote for him in some cases — though many will stay home — but who sure aren’t going to be eager to volunteer for him, and won’t even have the impetus to talk him up to their neighbors, he then treated another of his constituencies with equal grace.
His whole campaign is tied to the War, and the idea it is “winnable.” What group has the most invested in the war? The parents, spouses, and friends of men and women serving in Iraq — and especially the ones who were critically injured or killed there. They have to believe that the War is worth the sacrifices they saw made. But when the New GI Bill comes up, he doesn’t vote for it, he doesn’t just duck out on the vote, he announces that it is “too expensive,” and criticizes Obama for voting for it. Too expensive — to people for whom the war has already been expensive, because their son or daughter came home with PTSD, or missing vital parts, or has doomed their chance for grandkids, or who never came home at all.
And people like these aren’t just going to stay home. They’ll cross the aisle to vote for Obama.
Did he gain any independent support by this?
He still has to explain how begging for Hagee’s and Parsley’s support — and taking so long to get rid of it — demonstrates the characteristics of a true “Commander in Chief.” (Anybody want to tie the two Reverend Crackpots to Bush’s loyalty to Brownie and Alberto?) He still opposed gay marriage publicly — and most Independents, most non-RR Americans support it
Jindal and Romney won’t draw Independents. Crist might — he’s actually been a good and popular Governor — but only if he comes out first. If he’s picked and is then outed, it will be an Eagleton-level disaster. But if he comes out, there go most of the remaining RR votes.
And many older Americans know how important the original GI Bill was to them or to their parents. They don’t think it was “too expensive” — and, in fact, the influx of college-trained people probably was one of the key factors in Eisenhower Prosperity.
And one more thing. Hagel’s position provides “cover” for any Republican Senator or House Member who wants to run away from the war, Bush, and McCain, and for a lot of them, they know this is their only chance to hold their seats.
So, le’see, McCain has now moved a number of states from “solid red to “in play” (remember how much surveys depend on past voting performance, so RRs are expected to go for the Republican and are weighted according to this expectation); moved other states from “in play” to “leaning Democratic,” and picked up very little support to compensate.
And you wonder why I predict McCain will drop out “for reasons of health” no later than July 18th?
Gramps had a very, very, very bad day, indeed.
From Prup’s keyboard to God’s browser. I’d put heavy money against McCain’s dropping out. But it’s certainly possible that the wheels are starting to come off the bus.