Monday, August 31, 2009

Will anyone care what McCain thinks?

I’m not sure what to think of the fact that Mark Kirk is using Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to help plug his bid to move up to a seat in the U.S. Senate.

It just strikes me as odd that the reason some political pundits think Kirk might not be a shoo-in for the Republican nomination for the post is that he’s not conservative enough on social issues.

SO WHAT DOES Kirk do? He turns to the presidential nominee from 2008 who many social conservatives thought was not adequately aligned with them on the issues, so much that some just stood home and allowed the hard-core Barack Obama supporters to be an Election Day majority.

Does Kirk seriously think that this endorsement does him any good when it comes to gaining support outside of his particular segment of the electorate? If he does, then his judgment is questionable – and perhaps that is the reason that people such as Dan Proft think they have a good shot to win the Republican nomination come Feb. 2, 2010.

What Kirk has to do is get many of those moderates who in recent years have become repulsed by the GOP’s conservative ideological taint that they have been voting for Democrats.

He has to get them to believe that he is the kind of Republican who can be acceptable to them. Those people, combined with those who are so hard-pressed for a Republican to win election next year that they will be practical instead of ideological in casting their vote, will be the ones who could create a sizable majority that could win.

IT ALSO WOULD cut into the size of the vote that a Democratic nominee could count on come the general election in November.

But after watching McCain make his concessions to the conservatives to get the GOP nomination, there are going to be many moderates who will not be inclined to trust him.

And the presence of McCain could wind up scaring away some votes from Kirk from people who figured they didn’t trust the nitwit in the presidential election in 2008, so they’re not about to care what he thinks about anything in 2009.

So what was really accomplished on Sunday when McCain issued a statement that the Kirk campaign plans to use to make himself seem like the choice of a new generation of Republicans (even though the “new” generation is mostly the people who least want Kirk or anyone of his ilk to win).

IT GOT HIM a chance at attention on the Sunday night newscasts, and may even warrant good play in those Monday newspapers (unless people think that promoting the upcoming trial of another defendant in the Palatine slayings at a Brown’s Chicken franchise 16 years ago is more important).

But this early in the election cycle, I can’t see that it matters much.

This is still a time when most people are not going to want to have to pay much attention to an Election Day that is just over 5 months away.

So having a statement from McCain (“The people of Illinois deserve a senator who will restore honest government, strengthen our national security, fight for veterans and bring fiscal discipline to Washington,” it reads in part) is merely a stunt that will get lost in the shuffle of political events and news nuggets by the time people start paying attention to the campaigns in those days after they recover from their New Year’s hangovers.

OTHERWISE, IT JUST doesn’t do much.

If anything, Kirk’s chances of victory center around creating the image that he’s the lone rational human being in the running for the Republican nomination for Senate, and that picking any of the other GOP dreamers to be the Senate nominee would be sacrificing any chance the political party has to have its candidate defeat a Democrat and actually win the seat that has been held by Barack Obama, Carol Moseley-Braun and Alan Dixon – just to name a few.

Picking a conservative ideologue would backfire against the GOP similar to how it misfired in 1994 in the U.S. House of Representatives race from a central Illinois district, where Richard Durbin managed to be one of the few Democrats to win re-election in what otherwise is considered a “historic” GOP year.

Durbin ran against a GOP candidate with no political experience who took pride in his membership in the John Birch Society.

THE FACT IS that no amount of reciting Rod Blagojevich’s name would scare most people who bother to vote into picking an uncompromising ideologue over a Democrat.

While I realize that the social conservative, hard-core ideological types are dominant in the GOP these days, there’s always the chance that Kirk gets the nomination because the majority splits up among the other five candidates – letting Kirk’s minority support be large enough to win.

But I wonder if stunts like this merely make people think that Kirk is just another politico – which would make them think he’s no better than anyone else in the running.

If that’s the case, why would they vote for him?


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