McCain's Temper May Sink '08 Hopes

February 21, 2006
Washington, D.C.
Vol. 41, No. 4

To: Our Subscribers

  • Cheney shooting coverage may be absurd, but it reflects problems with the strange power balance in the Bush White House.
  • Bush budget is probably as good as it can be, but its assumptions welcome overspending.
  • Missouri’s Talent makes a curious move on cloning.
  • Steve Forbes endorses Laffey in Rhode Island.
  • We move on to Illinois as we continue our look at early primaries.


1) The 14-hour delay in the announcement of Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident was the talk of Washington, not because it signified any great conspiracy but because it suggested incompetence. Coinciding with the congressional report taking the Bush Administration to task for the handling of Hurricane Katrina, the impression is that of an inability to function properly. The Cheney accident probably generated more talk in the capital than the budget. But the level of coverage became absurd as it entered its second week.

2) The pro-business investment editorial page article in the Wall Street Journal by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggests a serious effort by Democrats to move out of the shadow of and stop appearing being beholden to left-wing pressure groups. The Supreme Court confirmation fights constituted a disaster for Democrats, and this is an attempt to get back to the political mainstream by showing the business community that Democratic rule would not be disastrous for them.

3) Nevertheless, the main Democratic theme on Capitol Hill is obstructionism. Only five presidential nominees have been confirmed this year, while dozens remain unacted on. The Democrats’ first impulse is to make life as difficult as possible for the majority.

4) The sense of inevitability for the presidential nomination of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has diminished. Increasingly, Democratic operatives talk about the need for an alternative. Most talk centers on former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) rather than Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) or New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D).

5) Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) displayed his trademark temper that may sink his presidential hopes when he fired off his critical letter to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the rising Democratic icon. His supporters were delighted, however, that he was actually being critical of a Democrat. McCain is the long-range favorite for the ‘08 nomination, but there will be a rocky road ahead.

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