I could definitely hear booing and what appeared to be John McCain hitting the
I will go beyond my scope of experience and expertise and offer a hypothesis as to why it is smart for hard core conservatives to be booing McCain today at CPAC within an instititional power framework. I may be completely wrong about the relative strength of factions and interest group politics, but I think this could be a smart decision within a certain framework.
But before we go forward, let's take a look at the generic political situation as it stands today.
* Democrats are generically trusted and favored on all issues
* Democrats are highly engaged and motivated
* Democrats are basically happy with either candidate and the preferences are between good and better, as Shamanic noted in her post earlier this afternoon
* Both Democratic candidates are able to fundraise to a ridiculous degree
* President Bush is toxic to anyone outside of the GOP base
* The Republican Party is fractured with multiple white knight saviors falling asleep, mobbing and lawyering up, or running out of their kids' inheritance to spend
* Any GOP nominee will face a party of single interest groups
* Traditional money advantages have dissipated
* Independent and moderate voters are heavily aligning with Democratic leaning groups in both preferences and behavior
* Internal party dynamics are in a short term positive feedback loop that favors party hardliners
Throw in a weakening economy, massive public distrust and disgust about Iraq, and you have to conclude that this will be a very tough year for any Republican to win irregardless of who the nominee is. The incentive to be a team player in order to be rewarded with some policy, patronage and pork goodies after a winning campaign is fairly low as the probability of a win is fairly low. A win could happen and at that point the credible threat of complete political marginalization has real costs to anyone outside the tent and pissing in.
But if you concede the probability of a win is fairly low and you believe that successful politics is a multi-iteration game than positioning oneself as not being responsible for the loss as an active player OR being the crucial marginal group whose support was needed but not found is a good way to enhance one's power. Then in 2012 or 2016, everyone will be seeking to kiss your ass and fulfill your policy requirements in order to avoid losing this critical part of a winning coalition.
If this game is played correctly, it is a great way to avoid being the coalitional chump for several electoral cycles. And hell, it is fairly low cost and enjoyable at the same time.