As I believe I mentioned in the last few days (I forget where), I like to read British observers of American politics from time to time, because their perspective enables them to go straight to things that should be obvious, but which we forget over here amid the trees of day-to-day nonsense.
Therefore I read with particular appreciation this column from the most recent edition of The Economist, headlined "The case for John McCain." An excerpt:
Mr McCain’s qualifications extend beyond character. Take experience. His range of interests as a senator has been remarkable, extending from immigration to business regulation. He knows as much about foreign affairs and military issues as anybody in public life. Or take judgment. True, he has a reputation as a hothead. But he’s a hothead who cools down. He does not nurse grudges or agonise about vast conspiracies like some of his colleagues in the Senate. He has also been right about some big issues. He was the first senior Republican to criticise George Bush for invading Iraq with too few troops, and the first to call for Donald Rumsfeld’s sacking. He is one of the few Republicans to propose sensible policies on immigration and global warming.
Mr McCain’s qualities are particularly striking if you contrast him with his leading rivals. His willingness to stick to his guns on divisive subjects such as immigration stands in sharp contrast to Mr Romney’s oily pandering. Mr Romney likes to claim that his views on topics such as gay rights and abortion have “evolved”. But they have evolved in a direction that is strikingly convenient—perhaps through intelligent design. Can a party that mocked John Kerry really march into battle behind their very own Massachusetts flip-flopper?
Over here, many are quick to dismiss him as having no chance — to which I say, if John McCain has no chance, America has no chance. Besides, Republicans are in a hunt for something better than their "front-runners," which has most recently led them to Mike Huckabee, about whom Lexington wrote:
The weakness of the two front-runners is persuading many Republicans to turn to Mr Huckabee. Mr Huckabee is indeed an attractive candidate—a good debater and a charming fellow. But he is woefully lacking in experience. He knows next to nothing about foreign and military affairs, and his tax plans are otherworldly. A presidential debate between Mr Huckabee and Hillary Clinton would be a rout.
I hadn’t really thought about that, possibly because I don’t think like a Republican — I don’t sit up nights worrying about how to stop a certain person (a decreasingly relevant worry). It has occurred to me, and I don’t think I’ve noted it here, that she would beat Rudy Giuliani fairly handily, which makes it ironic that some throw away their principles because they think Rudy would win that match-up. (Think about it. Remember when he dropped out of the Senate race against her? Nothing’s changed about either candidate since then.)
But now that I think about it, I suspect Mrs. Clinton would tear up Gov. Huckabee without breaking a sweat.