At Contentions, Jen Rubin argues for the McCain one-term pledge, of which I believe Ramesh has been the strongest proponent. There’s a lot in what they argue, but I’m not convinced yet. I probably could be if I knew McCain were going to pick a Veep who would energize conservatives both this year and as the 2012 heir-apparent.
For us, the biggest problem with a McCain presidency, whether one or two terms, would be its front-loaded nature: McCain’s greatest service to conservatives would be beating Obama. That is no small thing, but it is one that would be fully accomplished even before McCain took office.
After that, what leverage would we have if McCain had run on a one-term pledge? He wouldn’t need us to be re-elected, and he has demonstrated in the past that building a conservative Republican Party for the future is not a top priority for him. He’d want to ring up some presidential “accomplishments” and the Democrats — with increased numbers in Congress — would be the only game in town. Their policies would be bad for the country but would be blamed on the Republican in the White House. That would hurt us in 2012. The one-term pledge would make McCain a lame-duck on day one, and we’re seeing right now — with slow-walked nominations and a schedule that prizes vacations above all else — what the congressional Democrats can do to a lame duck.
The one-term pledge would certainly help McCain big-time with Hillary Democrats and independents. If he picks a good Veep, the pledge could help McCain with us. It could even help him with at least some in the media, for whom the prospect of covering “You Decide 2012″ for four full years beginning this November might be even more irresistable than Obama. All in all, it would increase his chances of getting elected. I concede that this is no small thing — in light of the frightening specter of an Obama presidency, maybe it’s the most important thing. But as far as governing goes, I don’t see much in it for McCain or for us.