STEVENS INDICTMENTS: GOOD FOR THE GOP, ALAS
I read Atrios, so I know I'm not allowed to say this, but I fear that the indictment of this Republican senator by a Republican Justice Department helps the GOP, unfortunately.
The right-wing line since about ten minutes after the polls closed in November '06 is that the GOP lost Congress because of corruption (plus Mark Foley), not because of Iraq or health care or the economy or Katrina; this is one talking point on which McCain didn't have to do a flip-flop to get in sync with his party's conventional wisdom. Prominent righty bloggers disowned Stevens a long time ago -- all right, all right, they threw him under the bus -- and a lot of them seem either somewhat pleased or even excited at the opportunity.
Stevens' indictment isn't exactly good news for the G.O.P., but he's a corrupt politician first and a Republican second. Patrick Ruffini notes that the right thing to do to safeguard the tarnished Republican brand is to demand he abandon his reelection campaign. Once that's done, if anyone dares to use Stevens as an example of how the Republicans are uniquely corrupt, you can remind them that Democrats apparently don't have too much of a problem with the fact that William Jefferson is still in Congress.
McCain should absolutely unload on Stevens, and frame it as the sort of dysfunction and corruption in Congress that he has long railed against. A good way to get some indie cred without upsetting any conservatives.
I guess the only question is whether Stevens will resign and/or withdraw from his reelection bid. I sure hope not, and I hope he beats his primary challenger -- after all, he's trailing the Democrat in the latest (pre-indictment) Rasmussen poll. But if he's out of the race and out of the Senate soon, as I suspect he will be -- yeah, I know he's a hard-ass, but I think the party will put a horse's head in his bed if he balks -- then this just gives McCain a golden opportunity to be praised by the press as the wonderfully incorruptible anti-Stevens. Blecch.
(Oh, and wouldn't removing Stevens as an issue hurt Obama's chances to pull off an upset in Alaska?)
Correction: Stevens has two primary challengers, and so far he's blowing them away in the polls. We'll see how that turns out.
Amanda Marcotte, sneering at the idea that this could help McCain:
...there's a certain hopefulness that's kind of cute in the idea that the average voter---especially all-important low information swing voter---will connect Senator Stevens with John McCain in any way except to add Stevens to the long list of dirty Republicans people are sick to the teeth of.
Um, even if the press flat-out tells those low-information voters that McCain is the bracingly wonderful antithesis of all that sleaze?