Byron York has a long piece on the political rehab of John McCain in the New Republic. (Subscription required.) York is one of the sharpest analysts among journalists working the D.C. scene, but he’s way too optimistic about a McCain primary campaign in 2008, underplaying such central issues as the Gang of 14:
When I speak with a Republican strategist who is allied with one of McCain’s potential rivals, he says McCain threw away much of the support he had won campaigning for Bush when he joined the so-called “Gang of 14” senators who reached a compromise on Democratic filibusters of Bush appeals court nominees. “The whole issue of judicial nominations is very, very important to Republican activists and Republican primary voters,” the strategist says. “I think there was a sense of betrayal among Republican activists when they saw those seven Republicans join those seven Democrats to head off the nuclear option.” The strategist is right about the importance of the judges issue, but wrong about the Gang of 14 compromise. Yes, McCain and others agreed to preserve the Democrats’ right to filibuster. But, in return, they forced Democrats to back down on their most hated nominees: William Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown, and Priscilla Owen. And the GOP members reserved the right to break any future Democratic filibuster. That probably won’t hurt McCain.
Nominees remain stranded in the dysfunctional Judiciary Committee, including Brett Kavanaugh. Judge Alito is twisting in the wind because the GOP cannot muster control of a chamber in which they dominate numerically. The disarray is the direct result of John McCain’s grandstanding and selfishness.
GOP primary voters aren’t going to rally to a candidate who has spent his career undercutting the party at crucial moments.