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February 6, 2007
Mary Katherine On McCain

I linked to David All's live-blog of the conference call several bloggers held with the John McCain campaign earlier today. Mary Katherine Ham also participated in the call, and has a somewhat different take on the effort to engage conservative bloggers:

Here's the deal. McCain wants to start a friendlier relationship with us bloggers, right?

Now, when a man goes to his angry wife or ticked off girlfriend and says, "Baby, let's work this out. What's wrong?," what does she do? She yells at him, gets some things off her chest, maybe cries a little about how little he truly cares about her, right? We got that far on the call. I'm not gonna tell you who cried.

But what's the next step? When you're talking to your girlfriend, even if you think she's being crazy and unreasonable (which I, for the record, do not think conservative bloggers are being), you have to act like her feelings are valid in order to get in good again, no? You have to say, "Baby, I know that hurt your feelings and I'm really sorry. I'm gonna try my best not to do that in the future."

What you don't say is, "But, baby, remember that one good thing I did do for you a couple months ago? Remember how we went to dinner that time? That was so sweet of me."

She will then just stare at you, tissue in hand, mascara running down her face. Favor is not won.

In my earlier post, I decided not to talk too much about McCain the candidate, but focused more on the professional campaign staff that I believe has done well by the Senator. However, MK has a good point in this analogy, and I think this is what separates McCain from Rudy Giuliani for conservatives.

Putting Mitt Romney to the side for a moment, one might expect conservatives to flock to McCain's banner for his stated positions on issues of import to our cause, and shy away from Rudy for his publicly stated positions on the same issues. Instead, in the early stages, it appears to be the other way around, and I'm sure McCain's campaign must be a little frustrated by that. The reason is the lack of constancy on McCain's part and the credibility that Rudy's consistency has built.

John McCain has a record of courageous stands on behalf of the war on terror and on spending, two key issues for conservatives in the 2008 cycle. However, as MK points out, he has not taken a market-driven approach on campaign finance reform, instead relying on intrusive government control of political speech. How committed will he be on free markets as President in any sense, if not in political speech? He now sings the conservative tune on tax cuts, but we still remember McCain the Maverick opposing them when George Bush pushed them through Congress -- and his part in blocking the efforts to make them permanent.

So far, we're not hearing how things will be different with a President McCain than they have been with a Senator McCain. Perhaps we won't, because the campaign staff will tout McCain's long service and the fact that he has engaged as a high-profile warrior in most of the public policy debates of the past decade or more, a reputation that makes him the anti-Kerry for 2008. They will see this as an asset, but conservatives will not. What they fear is the McCain of 2001-2006, and a pledge to remain that will definitely create a lot of opposition from the conservative bloggers who met today.

We shall see. So far, we have not heard much from the candidate himself, and it's going to be a long campaign. He may well wind up as the best of the choices that present themselves during this long campaign season, and I would encourage open minds and ears for the next year. However, until McCain either makes a case for government oversight over political speech that convinces conservatives or pledges to reverse the BCRA, I don't see him winning many converts, no matter how expert his campaign staff is -- and they are certainly working their hearts out early for McCain.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 6, 2007 9:02 PM

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