Party unity is a very important thing going into any Presidential thing, but the key element that you want is that said unity is for you, and not against you.
All of the support that John McCain engendered when theNew York Times last week heard the cooks at work in The New Republic kitchen and got skittish and pulled a half-baked story out of their own oven and served it up despite their better instincts? Well, it was gone in one fell swoop when McCain threw Bill Cunningham to the media and let them have their way with him.
If Tuesday night in Cincy was a dress-rehearsal for the Republican campaign this fall, they need to recast in a hurry or their fall stage run is going to close faster than Seussical.
Somewhere on an arterial leading out of Ohio tonight, there’s a baffled young man driving a rented Hyundai Elantra back to his parents’ house in Virginia, wondering just what the hell happened that he went from working one moment for the presumed Republican nominee’s campaign to the unemployment rolls just because he suggested the campaign should bring in to introduce The Candidate a popular Ohio right-wing radio host his friend from Columbus told him about, a suggestion his boss thought was “fuckin’ brilliant! The old man will love it!”
Not so much. At least when it was apparent what it could do to his poll numbers. I had never heard of Cunningham before Wednesday, but his reputation precedes him in Ohio, and it was surely very well known by the advance team that inviting Cunningham to introduce your candidate was like inviting Andrew Dice Clay to give a toast at your wedding reception. After the usual tired far-right schtick about the liberal media (“…the Clinton News Network, the Nothing But Clinton network, the All Bill Clinton network…”, etcetera), Cunningham continued his tirade against the Democratic front-runner, his voice dripping with contempt every one of the handful of times that he sneered “Barack Hussein Obama”, and promising, Lee Atwater-style, to “strip the bark” off of him.
McCain didn’t waste any time distancing himself from Cunningham, calling the performance “totally inappropriate…I absolutely repudiate such comments.” Poor Bill Cunningham was so incensed at being unceremoniously tossed “under the bus, under the Straight-Talk Express” by Senator McCain that he had to run to Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh for cover, who were only too happy to provide it. Cunningham would also tell CNN’s John Roberts that “I’ve had it up to here with John McCain. He’s off the list. I’m joining Ann Coulter in supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
Oh, the Rage Against The McCain. It’s downright ugly. This is not how you rally the troops. Rush Limbaugh had a 4-OxyContin tirade he unloaded on McCain Wednesday, mocking his anger at the middle-name flap. “What if McCain’s middle name was Adolf instead of Sidney?”
McCain is back where he was two weeks ago when the right-wing radio jocks were vomiting into their waste baskets and donning their Mitt Romney black armbands. He had exactly eight minutes of goodwill from the Limbaughtomites last week following the aforementioned NYT outrage, and, right though he was in feeding Cunningham to the wolves, he squandered that support faster than Giuliani did his campaign war chest.
Rest assured Mitt Romney’s busy these days, assessing the chances of slapping a defibrillator on his suspended campaign and showing up in Minneapolis-St. Paul for an old-fashioned nomination fight.
Meanwhile, that seismic jolt you just felt was former Republican Congressman and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman’s chances for the GOP Vice Presidential nomination cratering. Portman followed Cunningham to the microphone to introduce McCain. “Willie, you’re out of control again. So, what else is new? But we love him…Bill Cunningham lending his voice to this campaign is extremely important. It was crucial to victory (in 2000 and 2004) and it’s even more important this year with his bigger radio audience. So, Bill Cunningham, thank you for lending your voice.”
Portman later needed medical assistance after his furious backpedaling rocketed him into the wall behind, as he stood later with John McCain and offered, “I was backstage so I didn’t hear everything he said.”