Not-So-Straight, and Not-So-Express

Want to know why Giuliani has been whomping McCain in most recent polls? Read this transcript of McCain’s answer to a question about whether he supports promoting condom usage in Africa to combat AIDS. It’s painful. On the one hand, he clearly knows that promoting condoms is the right thing to do and that he’d look like an idiot for saying otherwise; on the other hand, he knows that if he admits the obvious all of his work courting the religious right will have been for naught. So he just ends up looking like he’s confused and pandering, which is probably the worst of all possible options. What’s so astounding about this is that in 2000, right after the impeachment saga, after eight years of Democratic rule, and during an overall good period for Republicans, McCain almost won while running as a maverick. He whomped Bush in New Hampshire, and won in Michigan despite the governor’s endorsement of Bush. He could well have gotten the nomination if it weren’t for Bush’s dirty tricks in South Carolina. And yet for 2008, during a heavily Democratic period that should be very favorable to maverick Republicans (as evidenced by Rudy’s rise), he’s moving right, and tactlessly so. McCain2000 would win this nomination. McCain2008 won’t.

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