Friday, December 28, 2007

John McCain, Pakistan, and Election '08

As readers here know well, I've backed John McCain's presidential campaign all year, especially noting McCain's top credentials on foreign policy (see some of my earlier posts supporting McCain, here, here, here, here , here, and here).

Now, not unpredictably, McCain's stature is rising amid
the turmoil in South Asia.

Red State, for example, just hopped on the McCain bandwagon:

The world has been in a state of madness for several years. But, with this morning's news, I have little doubt it will spiral further out of control.

Already whispers have begun that if Fred Thompson can't pull off Iowa, conservatives will need to rally around a candidate and that candidate is most likely John McCain.

Is John McCain the man to lead America? The Union Leader said yes. And they just might be right.
Robert Novak, in a column yesterday, confirmed the new conventional wisdom that McCain's rock-like foreign policy bona fides make him the main man against Hillary Clinton in the general election:

He never has been popular inside the party, even when it seemed he might be its anointed candidate....

But when Republicans get together privately, they tend to agree that McCain is the Republican most likely to defeat Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Even while some consider the old naval aviator as cranky and hot-tempered, he has not exhibited those negative characteristics in debates. Rather, he exudes a heroic aura that goes beyond managing New York City or the Utah Olympics. That quality is shown in his Christmas card television ad depicting a North Vietnamese prison guard making a cross in the dirt.
The Politico notes further how the crisis in Pakistan helps McCain:

John McCain, older than dirt and with more scars than Frankenstein as he likes to say, suddenly wasn’t looking so bad.

Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated in Pakistan and the political conversation in America had changed.

Which means at least for a little while Republicans here were not thinking about which presidential candidate was tougher on immigration or which had the best Christian conservative credentials.

Some were thinking about who might be the best leader in an international crisis and John McCain says he can fill that bill.

“My theme has been throughout this campaign that I am the one with the experience, the knowledge and the judgment,” McCain told reporters after a speech to an overflow crowd at an Elks Lodge here [in Iowa]. “So, perhaps it (i.e. the turmoil caused by the assassination) may serve to enhance those credentials.”

It doesn’t matter to McCain that 99 percent of Americans probably could not find Pakistan on a map. What matters is that most Americans can understand what it would mean if the wrong people in Pakistan were suddenly in charge of that country’s nuclear weapons.
I don't know if McCain will see much improvement in the Iowa caucuses coming out of the current international crisis. New Hampshire's a toss-up at this point, however, so McCain's intense campaign in the Granite State may get a lift from international events.