One certainly hopes Sen. Bill Fist doesn't really think he can take over where Dubya left off in 2008! (Yeah, yeah, I know, it's Frist with an "r," but I've gotten into the habit of playing around with the surnames of boobs, nits, crooks, and swindlers, as witness my fondness for "the Rev. Jerry Faultwell," "the Rev. Pat Robber's Son," and so forth.) Sen. Fist bussed in hordes of Republicans so he could win a straw poll in Memphis, beating off a challenge by John McCain, considered by some an early front runner and the man to beat in the GOP primaries in '08.
Silly John McCain. Didn't he learn his lesson in the 2000 race, when he allowed Rove-inspired rabbit punches to humiliate him in debates with Bush? Haven't the more astute pundits hinted that McCain's mainstream middle-of-the-road pronouncements cannot get him ahead in Republican primaries because the party itself has been hijacked by far right wing nut cases who think that the First Amendent means nothing and it's high time we established a theocracy of blithering idiot snake oil salesmen pounding Bibles and denouncing everything from abortion to gay rights.
No, McCain would best be advised to take the Perot route and start a third party with a platform appealing to sensible folk. I really cannot see McCain stumping at places like Bob Jones University (as Shrub did in '00). Many of McCain's positions on various issues place him in a position of anathema to bussed-in bigots from the rabid religious right -- abortion, for example. At least two other participants in the Memphis poll stand a better chance in the long run: sappy, half-witted Sen. George Allen, and Sen. Sam Brownbeck of Kansas, a liberal's worst nightmare, the epitome of the nuclear-familied Christer breeder geek eager to junk the Constitution, initiate forced conversions, and round up anyone who believes differently than he does, putting them in concentration camps. (See the wonderfull -- if harrowing -- Rolling Stone portrait of Brownbeck if you question my suppositions. Penned with surprising objectivity by Jeff Sharlet, it nevertheless manages to skewer "God's Senator," surely the religious right's man with a theocratic plan and a very likely nominee if the party fails to see the light of reason.)
Fist has some moderate views as well, but his straw poll front-run begs the question of whether the GOP thinks it can keep its House majority in '06 and win in '08 by maintaining the status quo, by conducting business as usual. The lessons of K-Street, DeLay, Abramoff, &c. have already been lost, and the Republican Party seems condemned to repeat their own sordid history. Fist, too, is part of the Culture of Corruption that Sen. Nancy Pelosi spoke of. Fist's own cultural contribution concerns his insider trading of family-owned for-profit hospital stocks that were supposed to be in blind trusts, so that no communication could be had by beneficiary to trustee. Then why, when HCA stocks were set to take a tumble due to lowered earnings announcements in June, 2005, did Fist order his trustee to sell off all his HCA shares -- two weeks before a 15% drop in value. Seems to me that this is just the sort of thing for which Martha Stewart narrowly avoided conviction (although, of course, she was sent to prison -- for obstruction of justice).
The point is simply this. Sneaky little twits like the flaccid Sen. Lindsey Graham are saying that of all the participants in the Memphis straw poll, McCain alone can expand the party's base to embrace Democrats and independents. "[The straw poll voters] are looking at electibility. Republicans are smart enough to know that the trends right now are not favorable for us." This is as disingenuous as it is miscalculating. McCain has no appeal to the neo-conservative element of the GOP, the people who make such hoopla over that nebulous sillyness called American family values -- and especially the people Rove pulled into the polling places to cast ballots for Dumb-Ass Dubya: the religious right. Now that both the S.E.C. and United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York are looking into Fist's follies, it's almost certain that he will be so besmurched in coming months -- if not pilloried to prison -- he will lose any chance of beating even the despised Hillary in '08. Besides, he takes stands on some issues at odds with the Christer bigots as well, e.g. stem cell research.
It's going to be interesting to say the least! Five will get you ten that Fist will not set foot in the Oval Office as chief executive.