The Conversation

Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssen McCain

In the course of an exchange between Bob Costa of National Review and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the subject of John McCain's blossoming friendship and political partnership with Barack Obama came up:

When I mention that Senator John McCain might be able to cut a deal with the White House on the upcoming debt limit, due to his warming relations with the president, McConnell demurs. He says McCain is a “national figure with strong opinions,” as well as an influential force within the Republican conference, but he doesn’t think the Arizonan will necessarily be responsible for solving an impasse.

“We don’t have any rules that you don’t talk to any Democrats,” McConnell says, shrugging off McCain’s ballyhooed huddles with Obama officials. “That’s McCain being McCain.” He then cracks a slight smile. “You know, I was kidding [New York Democrat Chuck Schumer] and McCain the other day, and asked, ‘When are you all getting married? It’s getting almost embarrassing.’”

It's getting almost embarrassing?  McConnell is worried about a primary challenge, and Republicans are worried about all the voters who didn't show up to support Mitt Romney in 2012.  Here's a clue for how to get your voters back to the polls, guys: stop having prominent Republicans like McCain become Obama's pal and Chuck Schumer's Significant Other, or Marco Rubio volunteer for duty as the salesman for Schumer's immigration bill. 

And please don't run Chris Christie, the guy who bailed on Mitt Romney's campaign to take long walks on the beach with Obama a couple of days before the election - and is now telling people like Rand Paul to stick their concerns about Obama Administration surveillance and abuse of personal data where the sun don't shine, daring Senator Rand Paul to run his privacy concerns past the widows of 9/11 - as your candidate in 2016.  Christie has done some good things in office, and can be a very effective orator, but the top of the next Republican ticket should not be a fusion candidate with Obama-ism.

Is it conceivable that any of this stuff could ever work the other way?  Does anyone think for a millisecond that if the McCain/Palin administration was half a year into its second term, we'd have Barack Obama becoming McCain's pal and leading a team of cooperative Democrat moderates to make big compromises with his agenda?  Could you envision a high-profile Democrat governor peeling off his duties as a presidential campaign surrogate to praise the incumbent Republican president's leadership, just a few days before ballots were cast?  (And false, exaggerated praise at that - the hurricane response that got Christie slobbering over Obama was much closer to a Hurricane Katrina debacle than the dazzling Superman rescue of Christie's rhetoric.)  If Republicans were pushing a big civilization-changing conservative bill, on the scale of comprehensive immigration reform, do you think the rising young star of the Democrat Party would spend his days going on left-wing shows to sell the plan to liberals?

Or is it more likely that in all these hypothetical Mirror Universe examples, the Democrats would be grabbing microphones and warning America of the dangerous lunatic extremism of the Republicans, with only the most tepid and rote praise for their fine personal qualities?  Even if the Republicans' initiatives were reasonable and commanded strong public support?  The Left knows that it takes relentless effort to move public support; it takes constant opposition to shift the Overton Window of political possibility; the effort to write and re-write history must be relentless.


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