Sunday, May 18, 2008

Arnold's Input

Arnold Schwarzenegger would probably be the GOP Presidential nominee were it not for the fact that his birth in Austria makes it unconstitutional for him to hold the office. Holding the potential to swing California to his party would have made the party apparatus fall into line on his behalf.

Arnold has some advice for his party on something he knows a great deal about - climbing to the top and staying there. While conservatives will find the notion of what Arnold is suggesting appalling, the reality is that if winning is the goal (which conservatives will challenge), he's absolutely right:

"The Republican idea is a great idea, but we can't go and get stuck with just the right wing," Schwarzenegger said. "Let's let the party come all the way to the center. Let those people be heard as much as the right. Let it be the big tent we've talked about.

"Let's invade and let's cross over that (political) center," he said. "The issues that they're talking about? Let them be our issues, and let the party be known for that."

Arnold treats politics like his previous career - it's all about selling tickets. He wants to be number one at the box office. And this is how presidential politics works in our country. That's why those we elect so rarely pay any attention to their campaign promises once in power. They read the scripts their number crunchers hand them to attract the groups of voters they need to win the electoral chess game.

McCain followed this philosophy when he spent last week showing the country that he was 'right' on Global Warming. Not right policy-wise, but right politically - the GW movement is a powerful wave that McCain can gain some energy from. The issue allows him to differentiate himself from the Bush administration, which is vital, and it takes away the opportunity for Obama to own the movement outright.
The answer for GOP presidential candidate John McCain: take a page out of the Schwarzenegger playbook and sell a product that is "counter" to the current GOP brand on issues like global warming, spending and even immigration reform.
GOP Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia, who is retiring rather than make a run for the Senate, recently issued a 21 page analysis of the party's prospects for the fall, and he made a similar argument:
The loss of three straight special elections, in once solidly Republican districts cannot be explained simply by “bad candidates”, or by being out-organized. They are canaries in the coal mine, warning of far greater losses in the fall, if steps are not taken to remedy the current climate.
McCain can't win by following the Bush model of attracting traditional values voters, says Davis:
2008 is different. Demographically, the nation is more diverse and more urbanized than in 2004. The Iraq war has proved to be the ultimate cultural issue, fueling and giving oxygen to the cultural left, as well as planting doubts in many swing voters minds about the direction of the country. The economy is softening and gas prices are skyrocketing, giving Obama an opening to court conservative value voters who are hurting economically.
McCain understands all this, as demonstrated this week when he painted a picture for what America would look like after his first term:

On the policy front, McCain said that by 2013, the end of his first term, he envisions most U.S. troops coming home from Iraq "in victory," as well as delivering health care and restoring "economic confidence."

And, acknowledging a White House criticized as too partisan and insular, McCain said that as president he'll ask Democrats to serve in his administration and vowed to "set a new standard for transparency and accountability. ... When we make errors, I'll confess them willingly."

As Dick Morris so aptly described yesterday, Barack is the unelectable candidate, but McCain is in the party that can't win. There's lots of work to do before we know which side can redefine the structural problems blocking the path to victory.

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