When I made my predictions for the year, the one that I felt most confident about was #3 – the return of Bad McCain. It took about 21 days for me to be proved right, if not specifically regarding the stimulus bill.
A joke made its way around the Capitol yesterday: How do you know the 2008 election is really over? Because John McCain is causing trouble for Republicans again.
Two and a half months removed from his defeat in the race for the presidency, colleagues say, McCain bears more resemblance to the unpredictable and frequently bipartisan lawmaker they have served with for decades than the man who ran an often scathing campaign against Barack Obama. In some instances, he’s even carrying water for his former rival.
Bad Mac is Back
Conservatives are understandably nonplussed, leading at least one to even contend that “the right man won in 2008.” Geraghty does a good job backing that statement up, saying that “[i]f we’re going to have Democratic agenda enacted, better it be by a Democrat than a Republican obsessed with avoiding the ‘partisan’ label in the White House.”
One could argue we had exactly that in George W. Bush’s domestic policy. Not that Bush was obsessed with avoiding a “partisan” label, but didn’t we think it would take a Democrat to enact a Medicare prescription drug benefit, or a nearly 25% increase in federal education spending, or to attempt a massive amnesty for illegal immigrants? Instead, Democrats got the programs they wished for, plus the ability to bash Republicans when they inevitably failed.
At least when President Obama’s Democratic agenda falters, it will be Democrats taking the blame.
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As so many blogs, periodicals, and other wags have done, so shall I make my predictions for the year to come. Your own predictions are encouraged in the comments (as are your criticisms of the prognostications below).
- The House, but not the Senate, votes on (and passes) the Employee Free Choice Act. A surprisingly effective P.R. campaign by business and Republican leaders, utterly ignored by the media but well-received by the public, results in extreme political pressure to protect the secret ballot in union elections. President Obama and the Senate ultimately choose to “postpone” action on the bill in the midst of an economic crisis. Union leaders do themselves no favors when they threaten to strike at selected businesses in retaliation for their leadership in the pro-election movement. The bill will never resurface in the 111th Congress.
- A significant rise in church attendance and tithing lead to a media blitz on an emerging “faith movement” in the U.S. in response to dreadful economic conditions. Some on the far left complain that these new contributions aren’t reaching the people “who most need them,” arguing that they should be taxed by the federal Treasury. California’s legislature takes them up on their suggestion in a desperate move to avoid bankruptcy (and, for some, to punish proponents of Proposition 8). Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill, but the backlash causes more legislators (Republicans and Democrats alike) to lose their seats in 2010 than in any election in state history.
- Sen. McCain enrages his one-time supporters by backing the Democrats’ $1 trillion stimulus bill. McCain stands, beaming, next to President Obama as he signs the bill into law, and the President personally thanks his “good friend and former adversary” for his crucial assistance in passing the legislation. As McCain jettisons his one remaining economic principle in pursuit of popularity, Republicans, making great strides in renewing their brand as opponents of big government, believe they may have dodged a bullet. (update: Rick Santorum agrees with me on this one.)
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