Floridians are groaning with horror or rubbing hands with delight – depending on who they are – over today’s Washington Post column by E.J. Dionne. He thinks, Lord help us, John McCain and Jeb Bush could run together in 2008.
But McCain made a crucial decision…in 2004. Courted hard by John Kerry as a potential running mate, McCain said no. He decided he wanted to be president and that it was unlikely he would ever get a Democratic nomination – and implausible that he could win as an independent. His one shot was as a Republican.
Once this choice was made, everything else fell into place. McCain joined the Bush crowd. He gave a powerful speech endorsing the president at last year’s Republican National Convention in New York…Unlike the speeches bashing Kerry and the Democrats by Zell Miller, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani, McCain’s stuck to policy and praised Bush for his decision to go to war in Iraq.
This allowed McCain to keep his reputation for clinging to the high ground, but it was also important for Bush, whose central policy legacy, for better or worse, will be Iraq.
The standard view of McCain’s choice, especially among Democrats, is that he sold out to Bush for nothing. This assumes that McCain can’t win the 2008 Republican nomination because of the intense opposition he will face from the Republican right, especially from Christian conservatives. It also assumes that Bush will never lift a finger to help McCain.
In Bush’s ideal world, that would probably be true. But the current moment is not ideal for Bush, and the economy, Iraq and the political situation may be even less ideal two and three years from now.
So what about the Jeb part?
Jeb Bush has said he will not run in 2008. But that does not rule him out as a vice presidential candidate. If McCain won, Jeb would be the No. 2 to a president who will turn 72 on Aug. 29, 2008, and might well serve only a single term. If McCain lost, Jeb would have enhanced national recognition for a run in 2012. If picking Jeb is the price of winning over George W., McCain will pay it.
I lost a lot of respect for John McCain during and since the last election. He seems to be the official apologist for everything this administration does wrong, which is a lot of ground to cover. Why would W. need to admit mistakes? He’s got John McCain standing by to explain everything.
I know Jeb isn’t going away but it’s so nice to think of him not being in Florida anymore that I guess I was hoping he would.