The chart above shows the remarkable polling similarities in John McCain's recent primary successes. After a slow decline, at some point late last year, voters sensed he really was their best bet on character, policies and viability. And so the battle now is really one between the worst base instincts of both parties and their most promising candidates for the general election. It's about the defensive figures of the past defending their turf and power against their own parties redefining themselves for the center. I'm hoping McCain and Obama manage to defeat these forces of entropy. A McCain-Obama fight could be as tough as it would be civil and extremely helpful in providing a mandate for a course of action in Iraq.
In fact, the stronger McCain gets, the clearer it is that he represents an opportunity to move past the bitter, angry elements in today's GOP - elements that have made it very difficult to give a positive case for conservatism's merits as a governing philosophy. On spending, immigration, climate change and torture, he is the reform candidate - a chance to turn the page on the unconservative spending insanity, climate denialism and detainee indecency that have scarred conservatism's reputation under Bush and Cheney and Gonzales And Yoo.
No, I don't agree with McCain on everything. But if it's a choice between him and Limbaugh, there really is no contest. McCain makes all the right people on the right angry. McCain represents a chance to remake the GOP on reformist lines, just as Obama represents a chance for the Democrats to escape the sleaze and cynicism of the Clintons. Maybe the Republicans, unlike, it appears, the Democrats, have the courage to choose the future over the past, to break a dynasty rather than entrench one. I sure hope they do.