Sunday, August 31, 2008
Where's McCain's Hispanic Strategy?
Senator McCain, you may know him as "Maverick" though there is no relation to Tom Cruise's character in Top Gun, missed a prime opportunity to really earn the title. With the electorate leaning towards Senator Barack Obama, McCain could have made a play for the other brown meat of the Democratic Party, Hispanics.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
First of all, there are virtually no nationally recognized Republican Hispanics eligible for the Vice Presidential position, considering they must be born in the U.S. Of the 26 Hispanics in Congress (24 in the House, 2 in the Senate) only five of them are Republicans. Of those, only 2 are natural born citizens.
One is Luis Fortuño, who is technically eligible, but as the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico and a resident of the same has never voted in Congress or as far as I could tell for any American election. Not exactly what you might want in a Vice President.
The other is Mario Diaz-Balart the Congressman from Florida - born in Fort Lauderdale and therefore eligible - also known as the most right-wing of all Hispanic members of Congress. The kind of right-winger that only the most affluent Cuban-Americans can appreciate, the kind of guy who believes everyone who disagrees with him is working for Fidel Castro. However, all that is a plus on the Republican scales of worthiness.
So given that George W. Bush made such historic strides into the Hispanic community, at times reported as having won 40% of the Hispanic vote, and with Republican support among Hispanics now hovering lower than 20%, why would McCain not choose someone to help him split the Hispanic vote like Bush did in 2004? With such a close race against Senator Obama and with Florida in play, why would he not be the "maverick" and name Mario Diaz-Balart as his running mate?
Well, here's the rub. McCain definitely wants the Hispanic vote and will surely continue to pander about for it, but he cannot afford to lose the right-wing vote while he's pandering some more. Specially if you consider that he might be asking those voters to support a Hispanic Vice President who may become President as soon as McCain dies. Not that he would die in office, at least not right away, but we all must admit that it is a consideration. How would right-wing America motivated by xenophobic anti-Hispanic sentiments react to such a consideration?
You might just as well hand over the Republican Party to Ron Paul and his backwards revolution. Ron Paul of course is the non-candidate/candidate most likely to declare war on Mexico faster than on Iran.
Basically to summarize, there is no Hispanic strategy, only "un aguaje" like we say in Puerto Rico**.
Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to spin Sarah Palin as a "maverick" choice, since she's a political dark horse. But how "maverick" was it really to choose an evangelical, anti-abortion, creationist, lifetime-NRA member, pro-oil, anti-environment Republican. If anything he's chosen exactly what the Christian right hoped he would choose, other than the fact that she's a political nobody, she's a safe bet for the hearts and minds of the conservative right.
So here's my final question... at what point does McCain bend-over enough for the Christian-right, that we may stop calling him a "maverick"?
**"aguaje" = faking it.