Is McCain Really Locking Up GOP Talent? Nope.
"Organization" is the last refuge of McCainiacs. Unable to argue that their guy would make a compelling pick for the Republican base, or even that he is a loyal conservative, or even that he's the most electable, when confronted with the mountain of evidence against McCain's viability provided by us pesky Rudyites, they invariably fall back on the excuse that all of that may be true, but McCain is more organized.
Today's NYT doc dump on all the Republican luminaries now supporting McCain is bound to add fuel to the fire. Tinfoil hat firmly in place, I'm still noticing a rough pattern of these stories cropping up when Rudy seems to be catching fire, and he seems to be doing well in Tradesports as of late.
But before I begin with the political strategy part of the post, all illusions that a President McCain would continue what President Bush started in the War on Terror now lie in ruins:
Powell... Armitage... SCOWCROFT?!?
They are of course joined by fairweather hawks Kristol and Kagan (last seen arguing why having a Democrat in the White House wouldn't be so bad). Is this list supposed to impress us? Is it supposed to make us coo in amazement at the wizened insiders McCain is recruiting? Because as a staunch GWOT hawk, this accomodationist bunch makes me see red -- right up there with McCain's listing "working with allies" and ending "torture" as two of his top four priorities. What's next, Hagel as SecDef?
But back to the political side of things. Is McCain really "locking up" all the talent there is?
Not really. Sure, they're making these announcements early. But the Republican bench is a lot deeper than just Terry Nelson and Mark McKinnon. McKinnon is a case in point. He wasn't the sole Bush ad guy. He coordinated a team of about a dozen of the best and brightest who would face off against one another to produce the best spots. By my counting, none of those dozen media consultants have been spoken for.
Take the case of the Rangers and Pioneers as well. McCain is said to be "locking up" all the fundraising juice in the GOP. But as of now, he doesn't even lead in Ranger & Pioneer recruiting. According to Chris Cillizza, that title goes to Mitt Romney, who has recruited 14, to McCain's 11, and Frist's 7. There were over 300 Rangers and Pioneers on the Bush campaign. By this measure, GOP fundraising is far from "locked up." Actually, the door is 89% unlocked.
Under Karl Rove, the Republican Party has gotten a lot better at winning elections, and with this comes a deeper bench of seasoned political operatives who know to win. McCain hiring two or three people from the Bush high command doesn't concern me yet since there are still about a dozen left to be spoken for. And this assumes that no new talent will emerge. Who knew who Karl Rove was before 2000? Who knew who Michael Deaver was before a guy named Ronald Reagan came along?
This isn't to say Rudy doesn't need to get busy hiring. But when he does, he'll still have a very deep bench of fundraisers and operatives to choose from.
To buy into this latest John Weaver ploy would be self-defeating in the extreme.