John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Putting Country First

Posted on September 1, 2008

Putting Country First


            Hurricane Gustav has obviously put a crimp in the style of the Republican Convention in St. Paul.  The McCain campaign wisely shifted focus from partisanship aimed at Democrats to leadership aimed at New Orleans.


            This episode reveals several things about John McCain.  First, he can call an audible when he has to change his plans.  Unlike the corporatism of the Bush White House, McCain is able to completely change direction when a play breaks down. McCain is the Fran Tarkenton of presidential politics (or maybe Brett Favre).  He can scramble around and make positive yardage out of sure losss.


            McCain is not a comfortable partisan.  He would rather work with Democrats than bash them.  In that way, he is more in line with most Americans, who deplore the intense partisanship of the Washington nabobs.  This hurricane event has given McCain the chance to put aside the partisanship he despises and position himself as a problem-solver.


            There are other salutary effects that come from Gustav.  The media focus has shifted to weather from Sarah Palin.  This gives Palin some time to get her sea-legs under her.  The media is not yet in Palin’s corner.  They think she is unqualified to be President, they don’t like her evangelicalism, and they hate that she is a pro-life woman.  The McCain campaign should use this time to get ready for the anti-Palin media onslaught that is sure to come.


            And let’s face it.  The McCain convention now does not need to compete with the Obama-palooza from Denver.  If McCain had been forced to do the traditional convention, the comparisons would have been endless, and it is doubtful that the GOP convention would have measured up.   Today, Denver is a distant memory.  And that is good for McCain.


            It looks now that the worst of Gustav has passed New Orleans. That is all good news for all those who live down there.  The government response was obviously better than with Katrina.   That also is good news.  Bobby Jindal did a great job in mobilizing his state, showing great competence, especially in comparison with his predecessor, which is good news for the GOP in general.


            Some will say that McCain and his team overreacted, but they had no choice.  They did their best to make some good lemonade out of some bitter lemons.  McCain demonstrated his predilection to put country first, which happily fits along those themes.