The problem in a nutshell: he desperately needs the backing of the very conservatives he has infuriated time and time again over the last few years. We’re not talking about tepid support either. John McCain needs conservatives to pour money into his campaign, and to rabidly defend him when he’s under attack — and of course, vote for him. Achieving this won’t be easy. In order to patch things up with conservatives, McCain will need to cater to us by making meaningful gestures that show his heart is in the right place and by shifting his positions a bit on key issues, in order to placate our very valid concerns about him.
BUT — if and when he actually attempts to start trying to reach out to conservatives, he risks losing what made him attractive in the first place; McCain’s appeal to independents and moderate Democrats is directly based on liberals in the mainstream media saying nice things about him based on the fact that he DOESN’T try make conservatives happy.
We’ve had a taste of this with that apparently-nebulous lobbyist story already. I suspect that it was a shot across McCain’s bow to remind him who made him the nominee.
For all the problems a McCain presidency would bring with it, I still believe it’s far, far preferable to an Obama or a Clinton presidency. If we had a strong Conservative Congress in place, maybe I’d feel a bit differently. But we don’t even have a weak Conservative Congress in place, and I don’t see anything changing any time soon. So McCain it is for Murdoc.
One thing I’m wondering about the threat of a major media campaign against McCain is what the effect will be on staunch Conservative voters. Right now, the generally-friendly treatment McCain gets from the big media players not only builds support among centrist and moderate voters, but it actually hurts support among conservatives.
But let’s say that McCain is the nominee and big media turns on him this summer. As we’ve seen from the lobbyist story, it doesn’t appear that we’re going to get much in the way of quality, fair, or even logical coverage of the Republican nominee.
I suspect that seeing an uninterrupted hatefest being waged against McCain is going to convince at least some conservative voters that maybe, just maybe, McCain isn’t that bad after all. I mean, I can almost hear some of them saying, if the media hates him that much, how bad can he really be?
Sure, McCain has burned his bridges with a lot of hardcore Conservatives. But how many truly hardcore Conservatives are there out there? Not enough to get Fred Thompson any votes in the primaries, that’s for sure. Maybe McCain won’t look so terrible by this fall, particularly as we get more details (or lack thereof, as the case is likely to be) about Obama’s plans.