Here’s how McCain would roughly have to present it, via an e-mail:
Rich, I completely agree … that McCain should take a one-term pledge. I think, however, that McCain should save this card for the convention speech. McCain’s election is the last chance for conservative reform approaches to the health care system, Social Security, the military and so many other problems. During his convention speech, McCain can make the argument “Are we really ready to turn the health care system over to the government, as Senator Obama wants, or should we first try less radical solutions, like making insurance more affordable by giving people refundable tax credits and letting them buy less expensive policies across state lines. Are we really ready to impose massive new Social Security taxes on the American people, the largest tax increase in American history, as Senator Obama proposes, or should we first try to come together, as we have done before when Social Security was in trouble, to shore up the system without risking the kind of harm to the economy that Senator Obama’s proposals will surely cause.”We can do these things together,” McCain can argue during his speech, “if we’re willing to talk straight to the American people, willing to come together with people across the political spectrum to find solutions to these problems, and willing to put America first, before our personal interests as politicians.”And then, he can deliver the lines that may win him the election: “We can do these things together, and tonight I make to you this solemn pledge: From the day you elect me as the next President of the United States, I will spend every moment working to make our country stronger and safer. I will not spend one minute worrying about my own political fortunes or how I will fare in the next election. I can pledge that, my friends, because for me, there will not be another election.”Imagine the impact this would have on the race. The operative question, in the key weeks post-Labor Day, would become, “Why not give the hero, the bipartisan deal-maker, the straight-talker, one term to try it his way?” (And even Democrats would have to ask whether Obama would be better with four more years of experience, or whether having an open presidency in 2012 would be the best thing for Hillary.)
He’ll never get more attention, or more bang out of the pledge, than he will get at the convention.