Why McCain Matters
This campaign for presidential nomination was extra-ordinary. It was a true post-nixon era campaign, when both the parties had to do some soul searching and gave future a chance. Many times, experience was pitted against hope, fear against reconciliation, bi-partisanship against narrowness. This will possibly be the most lasting legacy of George Bush - he has completely discredited the post-war conservatism by his ineptitude and naivity - and forced everyone to look for a change.
Mitt Romney, despite his brilliant credentials [he looks most 'presidential' among all candidates, but Americans, it seems, will not make another 'Warren Harding' error], is a candidate of the past - too much West Wing, too much the standard rhetoric, too few new ideas!
So is Hilary Clinton, in lot of ways - too much of an alpha female, too hawkish, too much her husband's wife in appeasing all sections of the society. She scores over Mr Romney on the gender issue - that represents a change. However, is that enough? If the French election last year was any indicator, there is a difference between wanting change and leaping in the dark. Hilary Clinton understands that fully and therefore, tried to project herself as a candidate of experience, unfortunately bringing back memories and making herself a candidate of the past, a handicap in this election.
Democrats have suffered less in the Bush years. Well, even after whatever they have gone through, on the final count, they can actually blame Bush for everything - and they are even lucky that the recession is almost here, and they can also shift that blame on the President [which he rightfully deserves]. So, they are still divided - they may even end up choosing Senator Clinton as their representative, making an 'one term' mistake.
In that sense, Republican Neo-conservatives have less to fear from Clinton. A Clinton presidency will allow them to regroup and let the people forget the traumas of the Bush years. America will continue to live with the cold-war mindset. The Bush Adventurism will certainly be replaced by Clintonian Isolationism [I initially thought of 'Barbarism' and 'Cowardice' as the two words] - but America will change little and the World will be no better place.
Barack Obama is different. He already has reignited the hope of Kennedysque rejuvenation. He is ready to embrace the world, and his background will probably give him greater insight and necessary humility to lead America to a true post-cold-war mindset. He stands the best chance - among all candidates - to be able to listen. But, then, he has one handicap - he is too different. He is too much of an outsider. Yes, he is the great affirmative action hope, but he has to flight too many demons - inside and outside America - to deliver his promise. And, by talking of hope, he has raised expectations - not just in America, but in the entire world.
This is why John McCain matters. He is all that an American Cold War supremacist would want to be, but he isn't one of them. He is ready to engage with the world, but defy conventional wisdom. He is everything that George Bush isn't. He may be light on economics, but he can get a running mate who is [Am I suggesting Mr. Romney?]. He is truly Post-Nixon, someone who can claim insider knowledge of how administration works and yet be an outsider.
The neo-conservative republicans will possibly settle for McCain, finally. I am thinking they will never be able to accept a Clinton or an Obama in the White House. And, this will be the other reason why McCain will matter - because he can still win, and if he does, he would change America from inside [which Obama, if he gets a chance, will have to do from outside]. He, of course, will make neo-conservatives irrelevant, and deliver America from its fear. While, if I had a vote, I would have voted for Obama [because I am an outsider], John McCain should matter more to the Americans.