Chatterbox, along with Joshua Green of the Washington Monthly and Jonathan Chait of the New Republic, has argued since last spring that the best candidate the Democrats have to run for president in 2004 is John McCain, whose membership in the Republican Party is now entirely vestigial. (Click here and here to read Chatterbox's earlier items on this subject.) McCain, regrettably, has responded with a Sherman-esque pledge not to accept the Democratic nomination. This has led many people to conclude that he's going to run as an Independent. But in his forthcoming memoir, Worth the Fighting For (a sequel to the best-selling ), McCain comes very close to foreclosing that option as well:
I am sixty-five years old as I finish this book and facing the question that comes to everyone blessed with long life. Has my time passed? Is it time to withdraw from public duty, retire to my home on Oak Creek, and pursue my private interests? My third term in the Senate will end in 2004, and I must soon decide whether I want another. I have had a bout with cancer, and the immortality that was the aspiration of my youth, like all the treasures of youth, has slipped away.
I did not get to be president of the United States. And I doubt I shall have reason or opportunity to try again[italics Chatterbox's].
McCain goes on to say that "I'd hate like hell to leave" public life, but that's probably his way of keeping open the door for a final Senate run, not another presidential one. It's possible McCain wants supporters to beg him to run for president, but that stance is the practical equivalent of sincerely deciding not to run because nobody's going to draft a candidate who says he doesn't expect to win. Chatterbox predicts there will be no McCain race for president in 2004 on any ticket.