Sunday, February 03, 2008

a dose of reality, please

Okay, so thus far in the primary season I have called exactly two things right: Thompson dropping out after South Carolina, and . . .uh. . .well, apparently, I've even lost my ability to count.

Geez, I really stink at this prognostication business.

And yet, undeterred, onward I press!

Some observations off the bat, because some things have really been sticking in my craw: first off, I think McCain is getting some really below-the-belt attacks thrown his way. I mean really: finishing in the bottom 1% of his class at Annapolis is somehow worthy of scorn? Take it from me (think Lloyd Bridges in Hot Shots part deux, "I went to Annapolis!"), the bottom 1% of a graduating class at USNA represents a whole bunch of people who would have done really really well in a state school--if they had the focus for it. Most of the lower-ranked folks I knew worked their tails off and endured extra administrative burdens (withdrawn liberty, academic boards and the like) that would make even some strong-willed people decide to throw in the towel. SO let's cut the man a little slack, shall we? It's not like he ever argued he was the smartest man in the room--in fact, everything he does belies the fact that he KNOWS he isn't the smartest man in the room.

As for the attacks on his age? Well, I hate to say it, but in my humble opinion there is an ever-so-slight degree of merit to inquisitions along those lines. It's not just that he's old, either--it's that for 5-plus years of his life he was forced to endure conditions that are beyond rational understanding in this day and age. So it's not like he's a "young" 71--he's all of 71 and a little more, if you know what I mean. And that could be a concern. At the debate the other night he was impatient, irritated, monothematic. . .which are traits I associate with overeager young activists hepped up on Starbucks and with old, deenergized adults. McCain falls squarely into one of these groups, and it ain't the young 'uns.

BUT REALLY, there are enough possible criticisms of McCain stemming from his record in the Senate and things that he's said on the campaign trail that I don't know why anyone would attack the man personally. I mean, there's something there for everyone! SO keep the attacks above the belt, shall we?

NEXT: Mark Steyn put in much better words something that I posted the other day, which is that as much as I really WANT to adore Romney, the candidate himself doesn't inspire that kind of belief in him. I blame this squarely on the fact that he doesn't seem willing to get in there and mix it up. One of the many things I love about our current president is that he didn't--until recently with all this Annapolis conference and associated crap--shrink away from a challenge. The GOP primary season is down to two people on the exact opposite ends of that spectrum (is that possible? I guess I just created a three-dimensional spectrum): one who can't wait to challenge all the wrong people (McCain), and one who won't stand up to a challenge presented ever so clearly to him (Romney). And Romney's crime is every bit as frustrating as is McCain's. He needs to remember that the conservative bloc is where people see things in mostly black and white hues--gray is for the other side of the political spectrum. When someone calls you out, you've got to defend yourself. To not do so isn't "dignified" or "above the fray"--it's just wrong. And every time he retreats from a challenge is another perfect opportunity missed. I'm not sure he has any opportunities left.

WHICH GETS ME TO MY FINAL BEEF. I saw a post today that cited a ZOGBY poll in California, showing Romney ahead. Isn't Zogby the pollster that we righties have condemned as the least reliable one? Oh, well of course that's the case--until it says something we like. Listen, the numbers themselves may be right, and they may be wrong (Zogby's actually done fairly well so far this cycle--with the exception of being 10 pts off against Romney in Michigan), but at this stage of the game there's NO REASON to think that movement in one poll shows anything other than the inbred inaccuracies of that poll's methodolgy.

I am just skeptical that there's some great "movement" afoot to Romney's camp. Maybe I'm wrong, of course, but I don't see that he comes out of SuperTuesday looking too good.


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