The Republicans have a problem: John McCain.
Oh, he's a military hero and all, and despite a wife who seems to lurk over him — well, everywhere (Spitzer could have used such a mate) — he is our courageous, if economically unschooled, nominee. I say "our" since I am still counting myself a Republican so long as I'm not the last guy in the party who believes in a constitutionally limited government; the defense of all individual rights, civil and economic; and a balanced budget (ha, ha, ha, ha). It's not at all clear to me that McCain is for those things, but I know this: He is the only nominee capable of withstanding physical torture should the next president be taken hostage.
Of course, except for a handful of Navy Seals, few of the rest of us are up to the mental torture of Bush III (or is it WW III?) once we have deployed all those troops that we don't have a la south Korea all over the planet — for how long is it? A hundred years? A thousand?
A nominee whose main calling cards are making the Bush tax cuts permanent, chatting up the surge, and telling long-unemployed Michigan auto workers to forget about working ever again wins the vote of Steve Forbes, General Petraeus, and maybe Mitt Romney, who benefited from McCain's confession of economic dunceness but who would have every Mormon right to sit on his hands if he wants to.
The fact is average Americans never saw the tax cut (or if they did, they don't remember it), the surge works about as well as duct tape, and the economy could use someone who might actually be willing to reduce, not aggravate, the trillions already borrowed and spent for unfunded entitlements like Social Security and an unjust war. Of course, the IRS stimulus check is in the mail (well, once I fire up the TurboTax it will be), and it will no doubt arrive just in the nick of time to buy something frivolous, like a tank of gas.
Yes, the GOP is in great shape. As the defeat of the Republican offered up to succeed the eminently forgettable, one-time Majority Leader Dennis Hastert for the safest of safe House seats in the country revealed, the public can hardly wait to send an electoral thank you. Who wouldn't be grateful for an administration that sullied America's international standing, bungled us into a tragically costly war, and accomplished little other than the firing of its own U.S. attorneys without cause just to prove — well, hey, it's the president's constitutional prerogative to act foolishly.
So, Democrats, take your time. Call each other names, play the race card and the gender card. You're not missing anything important. The only chance the Republicans have of winning any district outside Orange County, Calif., (if that) is to track down Colin Powell. Not because he's black necessarily — though that's helpful when you're likely competing against a Lincoln-esque, Kennedy-esque, Martin Luther King Jr.-esque guy who could teach Benjamin Disraeli a thing or two about political speechifying. FYI, Geraldine Ferraro, it was Disraeli who pointed out that "eloquence is the child of knowledge." So, yes, Mrs. F, whatever was the point of your racial swipe, Obama would still have merited the public's attention. In any event, Powell is the best bet for VP since he had the presence of mind to keep the Persian Gulf War within its internationally imposed limit, to reject (or at least resist) virtually all of the overstated claims associated with the "war on terror" that put us on the wrong side of the Geneva Conventions, and, well, Bush effectively fired him — which, is surely the best credential of them all.
Good luck, Democrats, fielding your own dream team. We've got ours — well, half of it at least, if Alma Powell's cool with it. Maybe we could keep Cindy McCain from making those fascinating faces behind John long enough to make the case.