Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Those Titillating Republicans

In all the hooha between Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh, the GOP is overlooking the fact that, by long tradition, John McCain is the titular head of their party.

That precept struck me in 1964 during a long conversation with former President Eisenhower. Discussing various issues, he clearly could not bring himself to mention Richard Nixon by name but kept calling him "the titular head of the party" as their 1960 candidate, even though Ike himself was the most recent Republican to occupy the White House.

This year, Republicans are no more enamored of McCain than Ike was of Nixon back then. Their 2008 candidate was non grata at the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend, where they also pummeled their 21st century Ike, George W. Bush.

The only prominent national politician who seems to recognize McCain's standing is his former opponent, Barack Obama, who had the Arizonan at his side today as he ordered his administration to conduct a review of how contracts are awarded throughout the government.

At a White House meeting last week, McCain had needled the President about the extravagant cost of new helicopters for the Commander-in-Chief and this week is pressuring him to do something about earmarks in the budget.

While most Republicans are howling in the wilderness with Limbaugh and Steele, John McCain is acting every inch as the titular head of the party, the loyal opposition on substantive issues.

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