Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Grumpy Old Party

In a post about John McCain's "biography tour," Matthew Yglesias remarks:
Ed [Kilgore] notes the analogy to Bob Dole's 1996 campaign, the last time the GOP thought having an old man talk fondly about long-past suffering was a good way to win elections. Relatedly, I think it was Matt Stoller who pointed out recently that the candidate with the more impressive military record lost in 1992 and 1996 and 2000 and 2004 so there's reason to doubt that McCain's genuinely impressive military record will serve as an ace in the hole for his campaign.
One reason the GOP establishment's backing of Crazy Cousin John has been so exasperating to me is the deja vu factor.

The McCain '08 campaign is almost an exact replica of the Dole '96 campaign -- aged, ill-tempered war-hero senator whose voting record is starkly at odds with his claims to conservatism.

Win or lose, it's bad for the Republican Party to have such a candidate as its standard-bearer. It plays to the stereotype of the GOP as the party of boring old fuddy-duddies. McCain's candidacy is also bad for conservatism, insofar as the Average Joe nowadays tends to confute conservatism and Republicanism, so that whatever Republicans say and do is taken as an expression of the conservative credo.

Whenever you bring up the issue of McCain's advanced age, some Republican hack is sure to answer, "What about Reagan?" Three quick rebuttals:
  • Reagan was tall. McCain's about 5-foot-7.
  • Reagan had a full head of hair. McCain's bald.
  • Reagan was a conservative. McCain's not.
McCain's nomination is the triumph of "National Greatness" nonsense, and thus a defeat for conservatives.

BTW, last night I was at a Reason magazine event about the national poker craze, which gave me the opportunity to play Texas Hold 'Em with Yglesias, Julian Sanchez of the Economist and John Tabin of The American Spectator, among others. Tabin is a canny player and won steadily, but I was really impressed with Sanchez, whom I never would have figured for a green-felt wizard. As for me, I stupidly let myself get bluffed out on an early hand by Jonathan Blanks of the Cato Institute, but subsequently recovered and walked away a winner.

UPDATE: I guess I should tell the story of how Blanks bluffed me out, because it's kind of funny. To start with, I hadn't really played poker in 20 years, and back then we mostly played seven-card stud. I'd only played Texas Hold 'Em maybe once for just a few hands, and watching poker on TV has never interested me. So I was both rusty and new to the game.

Still, I was doing the smart thing, playing conservative. If I wasn't dealt anything, I folded -- and the first two or three hands, I got zilch in the deal.

Then came a hand where I got dealt a pair of queens (spades and clubs) and now I was ready to play. I tried to be nonchalant about it, quietly matching whatever was bet, but never raising -- when you've got a pair in the hole, you don't want to bet anyone out of the game.

Well, the flop was no help -- low-number red cards -- and it was the same on fourth street. If somebody was trying to make a diamond flush or a low straight, I might be in trouble.

A couple of guys made small raises on fourth street, but nothing I couldn't handle, until Blanks comes in and makes a big raise. "A-ha!" I say to myself. "Our boy's just hit his straight." And so I folded.

Now the river card: Queen of diamonds. Doggone it.

Still, a straight beats three queens, so I'd made the smart decision by folding. Or so I thought. Blanks continued raising and after he'd been called, he laid down . . . nothing.

Blanks had been going for the low straight, just as I thought. And he actually thought he'd filled it. But he'd apparently misread the community cards, and thought that a three was a deuce, so he got beat by a guy with two pair.

If I'd have stayed in, I'd have won with three queens, but I was bluffed out . . . by a guy who didn't know he was bluffing.




  2. Robert, would you expect GOP leaders to ignore McCain since he did win the game of GOP Survior? 2008 turned out being a primary where there was no candidate that rallied enough conservatives. The pie was divided too much. McCain ended up surviving.

    It's not like he was the "chosen one." He's the default nominee.