Senator John McCain has always been sort of a gadfly within the Republican party, and I think this fact will create some difficulties for him as he runs for President in 2008. Many conservatives have had persistent questions about his conservative bona fides, and Hugh Hewitt writes about what may very well be the heaviest baggage that McCain carries into 2008:
The vaunted “Gang of 14” deal not only prevented a settlement of this enormously important question of how the Constitution ought to operate, but these nominees would all have had their votes, and most, if not all, would have been confirmed. Much more important, though, is the fact that had the John McCain-led Gang not interfered with the GOP’s majority’s desire to move to a vote on the use of the filibuster with judicial nominees, a precedent would have been established that it is out of order to allow 40 senators to stop nominees from receiving a vote. Instead, McCain undercut the Senate’s leadership. A few quality nominees were confirmed, “Judges Brown, Owen, Pryor and Kavanaugh among them but others were thrown under the bus. No precedent was set, and still the obstructionism has continued” . . .
“The Gang of 14” forfeited not just the reputations of many fine men and women, it abandoned principle and the Constitution for political expedient.
Frist and McCain will see their presidential ambitions ruined in no small part because of the latter’s authorship of the deal and the former’s failure to stop it.
Expect the new leader of the Senate GOP to understand this, and the other would-be presidential candidates from among the Republicans — especially Sen. Sam Brownback if he runs, and Gov. Mitt Romney — to remind the GOP primary electorate over and over again how great was the defeat masked with the title “Gang of 14.”
McCain may have underestimated how important the confirmation of reliable judges is to his conservative base, and it may cost him the Republican nomination.