If John McCain wins the presidency, his comeback — after the bankrupt debacle his campaign had become in the summer of 2007 with his backing of the amnesty bill — will be the stuff of legend.
And as nominee, he is entitled to conduct his own campaign and be cut slack by a party whose brand name is now Enron.
That said, McCain seems to have decided to win by love-bombing the Big Media and putting miles between himself and the base.
Consider his “Forgotten Places” tour of last week.
It began in Selma, Ala., where McCain went to Edmund Pettis Bridge to hail John Lewis and the marchers night-sticked and hosed down by the Alabama State Troopers on the Montgomery march for voting rights.
Now that was a seminal movement in the fight for civil rights.
But this is not 1965. Today, John Lewis is a big dog in the “No-Whites-Need-Apply!” Black Caucus. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is sermonizing White America. The Rev. Al Sharpton is trying to shut down the Big Apple. And the fight for equal rights is being led by Ward Connerly.
With no help from McCain, Connerly is trying to put on five state ballots a Civil Rights Initiative that declares white men are also equal and not to be denied their civil rights because of the color of their skin.
And where does McCain stand?
From Selma, McCain went to the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective, where black ladies make the famous blankets. The stop could not but call to mind the hundreds of thousands of textile and apparel jobs in the Carolinas and Georgia lost after NAFTA and Most-Favored Nation for China, both of which McCain enthusiastically supported.
McCain’s next stop was Inez, Ky., where LBJ declared war on poverty. But LBJ’s war was a politically motivated scheme to shift wealth and power to government, which led to a pathological dependency among America’s poor, his own abdication and Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign against Big Government that ushered in the Conservative Decade.
McCain then went to New Orleans to backhand Bush for failing to act swiftly to rescue the victims of Katrina.
But the real failure of New Orleans was of the corrupt and incompetent regime of Mayor Ray Nagin and the men of New Orleans, who left 30,000 women and children stranded in a sea of stagnant water.
No doubt Bush hit the snooze button, but why the piling on?
Then McCain headed up to Youngstown, Ohio, to tell the folks their jobs are never coming back and NAFTA was a sweet deal.
But why, when America’s mini-mills and steel mills are among the most efficient on earth — in terms of man hours needed to produce a ton of steel — aren’t those jobs coming back?
Answer: It is due to the free-trade policies of Bush and McCain, which permit trade rivals to impose value-added taxes of 15 percent to 20 percent on steel imports from the United States while rebating those taxes on steel exports to the United States. We are getting it in the neck coming and going.
An America First trade and tax policy could have U.S. steel mills rising again, while those in Japan, China, Russia and Brazil would be shutting down as uncompetitive in the U.S. market.
But we no longer put America first.
The U.S. government burns its incense at the altar of the Global Economy. The losers are those guys in Youngstown McCain was lecturing on the beauty of NAFTA. And the winners are the CEOs who pull down seven-, eight- and even nine-figure annual packages selling out their country for the corporation.
Does McCain think $6 trillion in trade deficits since NAFTA, a dollar rotting away and 3.5 million manufacturing jobs lost under Bush was all inevitable? Does he think we can do nothing to stop the deindustrialization of a country that used to produce 96 percent of all it consumed?
Why should those guys in Youngstown vote for McCain?
So the feds can teach them how to shovel snow?
Even Hillary, whose husband did NAFTA with Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole’s help, now gets it.
Then McCain took a time out to denounce the North Carolina GOP for ads tying the Rev. Wright to Obama, and the pair to two Democratic congressional candidates. To their credit, the North Carolinians told McCain where to get off and are running the ads.
What does a McCain victory mean for conservatives?
Probably a veto on tax hikes and perhaps a fifth justice like Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito or John Roberts, to turn two pair into a full house. Fifty years after Warren, it could be game, set, match for the right.
But McCain may also mean more Middle East wars, more bellicosity, more manufacturing jobs lost, malingering in the culture wars, and more illegal aliens and amnesty.
In Pennsylvania, thousands of Republicans re-registered to vote Democratic, and 27 percent of the GOP votes went to Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul. McCain may just stretch this rubber band so far it snaps back in his face.
Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of “The Death of the West,” “The Great Betrayal,” “A Republic, Not an Empire” and “Where the Right Went Wrong.”