I have cooked up an alternative theory on why the CPAC right is doing their best to sabotage the McCain candidacy, and I think I may have an alternative working theory for what is going on. Some quick facts:
1.) Large numbers of Republican congressmen are leaving Congress to “spend more time with their family,” choosing to get the hell out rather than gut it out and rebuild. The most recent retirement is Rep. John Shadegg, and I can not express how bad this is for the GOP. As recently as Summer 2006, Shadegg was pinned as one of the few remaining true conservatives, and received the support of Red State for his bid for Majority Leader.
2.) Bush’s polls numbers are somewhere in between the clap and the plague.
3.) Conservative ideas are being manifestly rejected, and Democrats are now the trusted party.
4.) There are a number of looming crises, none of which are going to be easy to deal with. We are more than likely already in a recession, the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, Iraq is the same-old same-old, the subprime mess is really starting to heat up and we haven’t even hit the Option A (or Alt A or whatever it is) mess the commenters here assure me is going to blow the sub-prime mess out of the water, Bush’s budget predicts deficits as far as the eye can see, and so on.
5.) Democrats are well-funded and enthusiastic, and there are two very viable candidates that more than likely can beat anything the Republicans throw at them.
So here is why they are sabotaging McCain- they want him to lose, or at the very least are hedging their bets. They want and need to paint him as not conservative, not pure enough to really represent the wildly successful (in their minds) conservatism that makes up the Bush dead-enders. That way, when they are blown out of the water in 2008, they don’t have to do any reflection, they don’t have to assess, re-prioritize, or re-think their policies. They can simply pin it all on McCain, claim he lost because he didn’t offer the voters a “real” conservative alternative, and get back to championing the end of the “death tax” and other important issues without skipping a beat.
In other words, McCain is the fall guy, and they are just distancing themselves from him.