McCain rushes toward Dole finish

It’s 1996 all over again, minus the cheap pens the Dole campaign was so fond of.

After brokering a backroom deal with Mike Huckabee to rob Mitt Romney of a win in West Virginia, and perhaps some other key southern states, Arizona RINO and “the most qualified Democrat in the race,” John McCain, appears to be favored in California which could very well push him to a hard-to-overcome delegate lead following Super Duper Tuesday results. In West Virginia, Romney was in the clear lead on the first ballot, but failed to gain the necessary 50 percent, so on the second ballot McCain pledged his supporters to Hucka-BUST to keep the heat away from the former Massachusetts governor and the only remotely conservative candidate with a chance of winning left in the GOP race, Mitt Romney.

Much as I’d love to see Romney win, it’s now going to be extremely hard for ol’ Mitt, and the GOP seems bent on hurtling headlong into a repeat of 1996. Back then, a decrepit Bob Dole took his turn at bat against Bill Clinton, largely because of his pull with the Beltway establishment and party bigwigs. As we all remember, Dole went down to defeat and ended up as a national joke, doing Viagra commercials while lusting after Britney Spears.

McCain’s ascension due to the same sort of forces – the perception that it’s his turn after paying his dues, ties to Beltway types and party leadership, etc., – sets up a whirlwind of forces that almost guarantee the Democrats a White House win in November. The parallels are frightening.

When he ran in ’96, Dole was older than Reagan was when he was first elected. Likewise, McCain is 71 and would be the oldest candidate ever to win, if he did win. However, Dole faced a considerably younger and more energetic candidate in Bill Clinton, who was running for a second term. The potential Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, is a much younger, far more charismatic personality than McCain, and Obama will wipe the floor with McCain, just as Clinton did against Dole. In fact, it may not even be that close. McCain’s best hope is to go up against Hillary, whose high negatives are showing following Super Duper Tuesday results, and hope more liberals vote for him than for Hillary… which isn’t likely.

Thanks to back room deals and shady politics, McCain is making 2008 a replay of 1996. And if he’s going to be the GOP nominee, maybe a dose of a far-lefty candidate like Barack Obama is just what this country needs to get the GOP – and the nation – to re-embrace conservatism once again.

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