Is John McCain the Next Ronald Reagan?

Patrick Hynes, who I’m relieved to see isn’t one of the McCain staffers let go yesterday, sends along a David Brody piece entitled, “Is John McCain the Next Ronald Reagan?” He cites a 1979 AP story about Reagan’s fundraising woes and a 1980 WaPo piece noting that “Reagan had to overcome doubts about his age and ability, an ill-advised Iowa strategy, a major staff shake-up in the middle of the campaign and serious money problems” to win the GOP nomination.

The problem, though, is not so much that John McCain isn’t Ronald Reagan (although, I should hasten to add, he isn’t) but that this isn’t 1979. The hyper-frontloaded primary schedule now in place makes catching up much harder. And McCain isn’t just trailing Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson in the polls and Giuliani and Mitt Romney in fundraising: he’s trailing all three in most of the early states. He’s got an incredible amount of ground to make up.

Further, while McCain has grown on me substantially vis-a-vis Giuliani and I have yet to take Romney or Thompson seriously as presidential prospects, it’s hard for me to see a path for his resurgence. He started off unpopular with the hard right and his attempts to curry favor with Pat Robertson and company have alienated the moderates.

He’s courageously leading on immigration and the Iraq War, taking hard stands despite the polls. That’s admirable. On the other hand, championing incredibly unpopular issues months before the ballots are cast is not likely to win many votes.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. pudge says:

    Let’s see: Reagan as not only the champion of, but author of, the “al-KKK-da” bill of rights ? Uh, no.

    Reagan as the enemy of border enforcement. Nada, chance.

    Reagan working with the opposition so as to guarantee stagnation in the confirmation of dozens of judges ? Not guilty!

    “Reagan Fiengold” ? You would have seen mass suicide.

    The gang of 14 alone is enough to have his card pulled. As it is, I think his shares in Haliburton may be retrieved. Oops, didn’t mean to let that out.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Reagan as the enemy of border enforcement. Nada, chance.

    Well, actually, Reagan signed a much more sweeping amnesty bill in 1986. See Simpson-Mazzoli.

    Reagan working with the opposition so as to guarantee stagnation in the confirmation of dozens of judges ? Not guilty!

    While I wasn’t a fan of the Gang of 14, the express purpose and actual result was to ENSURE the confirmation of dozens of conservative judges at the cost of sacrificing three or four who weren’t going to get past a filibuster, anyway.

  3. Harry Jenks says:

    You’re kidding me right?

    “He’s courageously leading on immigration”

    He’s an idiot taking an idiotic stand. That’s not courageous, that’s stupid and traitorous. McCain couldn’t decide if he was a Republican or a Democrat. He acted like both. He couldn’t decide if he was Liberal or Conservative. He pretended to be both. I want an American representing Americans. McCain doesn’t understand that and doesn’t do it.

    Count down until he quits the race.
    10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – It’s almost over.

    Good Riddance!
    TheHat

  4. pudge says:

    “Reagan as the enemy of border enforcement. Nada, chance.”

    Can’t believe that actually came out of these two pecking little fingers. Well, at least they didn’t have such a well established track record of failure on the border back then. Not to mention the extra added incentive of wanting to stop the build-up of, wether new or already in existence,domestic terrorist cells. Now Mr. Joyner, you have to admit that ’86 and now, is more apples to oranges than it is heads of lettuce to heads of lettuce. Don’t you ?

  5. James Joyner says:

    domestic terrorist cells

    This is almost entirely a red herring. Otherwise, 1986 and now are almost entirely comparable. The history of failure to keep people from crossing a soft border from poverty to opportunity is long.

  6. R. Alex says:

    The gang of 14 alone is enough to have his card pulled.

    The gang of 14 was radically successful. I hated it at first, but it got people confirmed, sacrificing people that probably wouldn’t have been, and broke a stalemate without sacrificing the filibuster (which, now that the GOP is in the minority, is handy). I have a lot of bones to pick with McCain, but that definitely is not one of them.

    That’s not courageous, that’s stupid and traitorous.

    Even if true (nice to know that we’re America-hating traitors for disagreeing with you), that’s not mutually exclusive with courageous.

  7. Wayne says:

    His stand on any particular issue is not what most people that I talk to dislike about McCain. It is his general conduct in the last 6 years that most don’t like. He has been the MSM puppet for the most part and he can chill on bringing up his Vietnam credential every time he speaks. We get it already. When he brings it up now it looks like someone who bring up their dead child every time they get in a hot spot. At a point it goes from sympathetic to pathetic.

    I still believe that filibusters should not be allowed on Judicial or Cabinet nomination. It is fine for legislative purpose.

  8. pudge says:

    “This is almost entirely a red herring.” (re:”domestic terrorist cells”)

    Please tell me you’re kidding. There is no such thing as domestic terrorist cells and the border has nothing to do with them if they do exist ? Have you ever heard of OTM’s ? Thousands caught, oops, “introduced” to America with the help of law enforcement and you say that it is a red herring because…? We haven’t been hit yet ? They’re here. It’s coming. The open border will have assisted. Why is that not obvious to everyone ? My dumb is hereby founded. I christen me,”pudge the clueless”. Long live pudge, soon may he awaken.

    If your next point concerns numbers, need one remind, Sep. – 11ths 19, the Fort Dix 6, Toronto, etc., etc., etc., ?

  9. James Joyner says:

    If your next point concerns numbers, need one remind, Sep. – 11ths 19, the Fort Dix 6, Toronto, etc., etc., etc., ?

    None of these people Mexican. None came in via Mexico.

  10. Michael says:

    None of these people Mexican. None came in via Mexico.

    None came in illegally either, as far as I know, and none of the proposed immigration bills on either side have provisions that would have stopped them from getting here had they been in place back then.

  11. Alex Knapp says:

    There’s no question that McCain is going to stay in the race–there’s still a lot of primary campaign left, and I’ve made this prediction before and I’ll make it again: Giuliani’s campaign is going to IMPLODE. He has way, way too many skeletons in his closet.

    Once Giuliani implodes, you’re left with Romney, Thompson and McCain. Of those three, Romney creeps people out, Fred Thompson won’t survive once people realize he’s spent the past 20 years as a lobbyist.

    Who does that leave as a viable candidate?

    McCain, that’s who.

  12. Lysander says:

    McCain?

    Given I never liked McCain in 2000, I can’t think of one position he’s taken since that has reversed my opinion of him. On the contrary, it’s only been affirmed and re-affirmed time and time again.

  13. pudge says:

    James

    So because none of the burglars who’ve assaulted you came in through your unlocked front door(yet), you shouldn’t bother to lock it ?

    Besides,I distinctly remember hearing that 2 of the “Fort Dix 6” came across our southern border. Not that it matters to my above argument.

  14. James Joyner says:

    So because none of the burglars who’ve assaulted you came in through your unlocked front door(yet), you shouldn’t bother to lock it ?

    Locking a door is easy. Shutting down a 2000 mile border? Not so much. Especially not when you want tourism and trade to flow freely.

  15. Michael says:

    So because none of the burglars who’ve assaulted you came in through your unlocked front door(yet), you shouldn’t bother to lock it ?

    The thing about analogies is that they’re support to relate to the point being made. Your’s didn’t.

    A more appropriate analogy would be that if the burglar came in through your (still)unlocked front door, maybe putting steel bars on all your windows isn’t the best solution to your problem.

  16. pudge says:

    Unbelievable,

    In the last two posts I have learned that the same country that built Hoover Damn in something like 2 years under goal and constructed the Empire State building in less time than it takes to learn how to walk, can’t build a fence to protect itself, AND,that if criminals show some ingenuity, throw up your hands,give ’em the key and hope that they don’t break up the place too bad. And apparently all in the name of “tourism and trade”. I don’t need their tourism and trade sirs, not if it comes at the price of my nations soveriegnty.

    Why is America the only nation that must appease the worlds desire to unload its undesireables in a place where they can send back billions in un-tariffed funds ?

    Truly unbelieveable.

  17. Michael says:

    Why is America the only nation that must appease the worlds desire to unload its undesireables

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    That’s why.

  18. pudge says:

    re; Yer huddled masses and suchanwretch,

    Where’s the part where it guarantees free passage (and welfare,and education,and room & board and….) and access to all the bridges you can blow up ? And besides, that is a lame quote that is neither American like, nor encouraging of freedom. We didn’t get to the moon and deploy ICBMs in Europe thanks to the immigration of Wilma and Hans Tempest-tost, we did that with the help of…of…you know, the missile guy, Von Braun or something.

    Anyway, you quoting that as if it was ripped from the Constitution itself is the same tactic you lefties use to pervert ol’ TJs words into being a carved in stone mandate to ban the presence of manger displays anywhere within reach of human eyesight. Man, the left is in serious need of scruples. Let’s hope that some day they start searching for them….Just don’t hold yer breath.

  19. Anjin-San says:

    He’s courageously leading on immigration and the Iraq War

    Is lying about his “stroll thru Baghdad” your definition of leadership?