If I really wanted to torpedo McCain, I would endorse him . . . Because that would send the independents and liberals who are going to vote for him running away faster than anything. What people don't realize is that I am doing McCain the biggest favor that can be done for him by staying out of this . . . If I endorsed him thoroughly and with passion, that would end the independents and moderates, because they so despise me and they so hate me.
Needless to say, Limbaugh makes his living by being self-centered. So he doesn't realize that the same point applies to Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, George Bush, and especially Dick Cheney. If John McCain seeks support from these guys, he might as well seek endorsements from jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff, page-seducer Mark Foley, and gay-denying bathroom Casenova Larry Craig.
The Second Dimension of the McCain Dilemna. Actually, the McCain dilemna runs even deeper because the role model he most needs to emulate is in fact Barack Obama. The right-wing commentariat makes the mistake of trying to place McCain under the umbrella of conservative heroes like Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill. However, because they're gazing at their own conservative navels, they don't realize that Barack Obama has already pulled the first Ronald Reagan since before . . . Ronald Reagan. Above everything else, Obama's unshakeable "likeability" is changing the political field. On the one hand, many voters like Obama so much that they not only ignore but they're eager to ignore criticisms of him for being inexperienced, weak on health care, and the most liberal member of the Senate. On the other hand, Obama's rock star charisma is pulling his politial fans to the left so they can support him.
In the final two weeks of the 1980 campaign, Reagan convinced a relatively liberal American electorate to move to the political right in order to vote for him. In many ways, Obama has already trumped Reagan. He's become the charismatic face of liberalism in the same way that Reagan became the trusted face of the political right and Obama has already pushed the American political spectrum to the left as people move to support him. McCain might agree more with Reagan's policies, but it's Barack Obama who owns the Reaganesque charisma needed to move large masses of voters in new directions.
The Reverse Obama. This allows us to identify one dimension of what John McCain is going to need to accomplish to win the election. In essence, McCain has to fully reverse the "Obama effect" and induce the American electorate to move back in a right-wing direction. Where the American electorate opposes the war, McCain needs to make people enthusiastic about the occupation of Iraq. Where the American electorate now accepts universal health insurance, McCain needs to get them to rethink. The same is the case with economic policy, gay marriage, and other issues where public opinion has moved to the left and accelerated that movement as a result of Obama's popularity. To win, McCain would have to be so much more personally popular than Obama that he could reverse Obama's own effect on the voting public as well as the public's general rejection of the Republican Party and the right-wing. That's an extremely tall order and I don't think McCain's up to it.