Why Rudy Will Win
I read The Hotline. I pay attention when Straight Talk America snags another top operative or fundraiser. I bang my head against the wall the obvious opportunities Rudy's people seem to be missing.
And every time my faith in the enterprise begins to waver, something big happens to renew it. Today was such a day.
The Bilbray brouhaha may seem like inside baseball, and it is. But it is precisely in the realm of inside baseball that McCain has cultivated the image of prohibitive frontrunner. As a pragmatist apt to embrace prohibitive frontrunners, I can't describe the intuitive revulsion I feel whenever someone mouths this staggeringly incorrect McCain-boosterism.
Today proved that McCain is the most radioactive Republican politician within the Republican Party in terms that Beltway insiders can understand. Taking positions at odds with the base is one thing. Falling down on your most basic duties as a potential party leader (that means supporting your candidates in close races, whether they're named Tancredo or Chafee, no questions asked) takes it to a different dimension. Radioactive politicians don't get nominated. It would be like Joe Lieberman winning the 2004 Democratic nomination. No matter how many people say it's going to happen, it Simply. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.
Unless there are no viable alternatives and the party is dragged kicking and screaming into it. And if the media wakes up one day and decides to hate John McCain like they eventually turned on George Bush, we're talking a Hillary landslide.
Enter Rudy Giuliani.
McCain-mania is based on the proposition that Republicans will need a little something extra, and someone different, to hold on to the White House for a third consecutive term. The problem is that McCain shreds the party from the inside out -- and now we find that he can't or won't show up in reliably Republican districts for fear of hurting the candidate he's supposed to be helping (has Mr. 29 Percent Approval ever cancelled a fundraiser like this?)
Giuliani brings all of McCain's alleged strengths to the table and none of his crushing liabilities. (Before you mention abortion, ask yourself this: does it outweigh immigration?) Noah Millman has got this exactly right: "McCain is doing with immigration-restrictionists exactly what he did with Christian conservatives in 2000. He'll probably figure out his mistake right about two years too late."
The good news for McCain is that only someone "like McCain" can beat Hillary. The bad news is that someone else "like McCain" is very much in the thick of things. A political opportunity of epic scope exists to nominate a maverick not named John McCain who beats Hillary Clinton.
I know it's hard to believe, but this thing is Rudy's if he wants it.