“John McCain doesn’t get it.” Of all the efforts to get McCain in this speech, this claim — which we will hear over and over again — is the one that sticks. Tying McCain to Bush won’t really work with most voters who have been around for more than one election cycle. But if McCain acts and sounds like a nostalgic old codger, he’s finished. Bob Dole, in 1996, defended his age by describing himself as “a bridge to a time of tranquillity, faith, and confidence.” It was a beautiful line from Mark Helprin’s pen, but it was a defense of the past against the scourge of modernity. Next week, the Republican convention can’t dwell on McCain’s remarkable record. It has to focus on the notion that McCain has always been ahead of the idea curve — even if it only half true.
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