The polls in the past few weeks have been unfriendly for McCain. The arrival of Fred Thompson (is it a coincidence that his announcement comes with the latest Die Hard movie? I mean, we know he was in Die Hard 2....hmmmm), some lackluster fundraising, and some black eyes over legislation have the straight-talker looking down and out. The yellow journalists are already predicting his presidential aspirations to wither by September.
However, as McCain himself has said, this race is not a sprint, but a marathon. And in a Marathon, it is about pace. Statistically, McCain still beats the presumptive democratic nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton in head-to-head races. What is it that can be hurting McCain?
McCain is the only "frontrunner" with a day job, that being, a U.S. Senator. Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson are essentially not bound to working right now. Their records are frozen in time, the laws they created/vetoed/voted for are in the history books. McCain is still legislating, and his legislating is irritating because it attempts to reconcile problems and build consensus. And in a primary season, consensus building is akin to being a moderate and fellow-traveller with the left...especially when your name is hyphenated with -Feingold, and -Kennedy.
So McCain is punished for doing exactly what Americans seem to crave in a leader, that is, making decisions and being decisive. McCain is expending a lot of his political capital to pass some sort of legislation, whether is be his campaign finance reform in years past or immigration now. The other candidates can critique with clean hands because they are "do nothings" right now. It is far easier to destroy other's labors than to make your own. McCain's view is that something is better than nothing. Without any attempt at campaign finance, we would be back to the unlimited fun of the 1996 Clinton v. Gingrich years. Without any attempt at immigration reform, the problem just does not go away for summer recess....it festers. McCain is criticized for making a stand and making some sort of leadership decision where others will not.
Think about that. Right or wrong, it is still a vision, a direction, a plan. What other candidate is putting his money where his mouth is on these issues? That is right, not a one. So, as McCain slumps for taking a stand, the others can wiggle to their hearts content, for unlike legislating, in politics, the more vague you are, the better you do in the polls. Should McCain pull out of the marathon, it will be because his principled approach to leadership...that means, taking a stand...killed his chances. What the polls are really saying, is that unprincipled, "noodley" leadership is what the American people seek. Let's hope once fall sets in, and the summer heat has lifted from the nation's thinking, that we remember what is "worth the fighting for".
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