The Two McCains
First, from the East Coast and NYPost columnist Ralph Peters (Who, by the way, owns the best line of the day: "The Democratic dog just caught the Iraqi firetruck it's been chasing for almost four years. Now what?"):
For the next two years, the go-to guy in the national-security field is going to be Sen. John McCain. He's now the real "decider," positioned to serve either as the brakeman on the administration's runaway train or as the switchman in the political yard if the Dems get a rational policy on track.
McCain's in a much stronger position than he was a few days ago - the Republican nomination is now his. The midterm elections were a repudiation not only of the administration's non- strategy in Iraq, but of the small-but- vocal Taliban wing of the Republican Party - the anti-science, woman-fearing inquisitors. They hoped to block McCain's nomination. Now, from Pennsylvania to Missouri, they're the walking dead in the political landscape.
And from the West Coast, Hugh Hewitt:
The public ... demands results. Handed a large majority, the GOP frittered it away. The chief fritterer was Senator McCain and his Gang of 14 and Kennedy-McCain immigration bill, supplemented by a last minute throw down that prevented the NSA bill from progressing or the key judicial nominations from receiving a vote. His accomplice in that master stroke was Senator Graham. Together they cost their friend Mike DeWine his seat in the Senate, and all their Republican colleagues their chairmanships. Senator McCain should rethink his presidential run. Amid the ruins of the GOP's majority there is a clear culprit.
Peters sees the election as a howl from the anti-conservative branch of the GOP, the moderates who hang out with Lindsey Graham and Lincoln Chaffee. Hewitt sees it as a reaction by the conservatives about the moderate direction of the party under Bush.
This is a battle that will be fought out not over Iraq, but over immigration. McCain and Bush are on the same page -- call it anything but amnesty and guest worker permits -- and they'll be easy allies with Dems who are looking to accomplish something other than deadlock.
In his role as Chief of Guest Workers, McCain will be able to increase his stature among moderates, at the cost of support from hardline GOP. He'll wrap himself in that moderate support, throw a couple punches in the faces of his critics with his hardline position on the war, not listen to Hugh, and go for the nominate.
And so, the '08 primaries will be the battle for the future of the GOP.