There’s
a lot of clamor today in the media, across big network and cable tv,
talk radio and the internet, over where things stand in the political
campaigns right now and what might happen tomorrow. The Times sees it like this today:
Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama are effectively tied in the
opinion polls that haven’t had a good track record of predicting
races so far. The Republicans are “more lopsided”, which is one of the
only constants in this ever changing election year.

Now this is interesting:

For all his success nationwide, Mr. McCain is having a
tougher time winning over voters in his home state of Arizona, The Los
Angeles Times reports:

“In a straw poll vote two weeks ago of 721 Republican leaders in
Maricopa County, the major population center of the state, a majority
ranked McCain as the least acceptable Republican candidate for
president.”

And Sen. McCain is campaigning in Gov. Romney’s home state of
Massachusetts, heckling him in the last debate over Romney not being
endorsed by the most conservative of his home state newspapers.

Republican senators, too, are on the fence about what their appropriate reaction to a McCain nomination should be…

Many Senate Republicans, even those who have jousted with McCain in
the past, say their reassessment is underway. Sensing the increasing
likelihood that he will be the nominee, G.O.P. senators who have
publicly fought with him are emphasizing his war-hero background and
playing down past confrontations.

In fact, one of the unappealing sides of Sen. McCain’s more public
appearances lately has been his bristly smackdowns of anybody who dares
to call his Senate record into question. Today has to hold the record
for the most arguments on the air about McCain, from early morning tv
news through mid-day talk radio and current editions of opinion and
analysis pieces in print. There are so many renderings of this one
candidate, it’s really difficult to discern what principles he actually
holds and what policies he promises. When confronted by Chris Wallace
on Fox News Sunday about a remark he made on appointing judges to the
Supreme Court, McCain denied having said it or even holding that belief
about interpretation of the Constitution.

Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO, a Romney backer, calls for more straight talk from McCain, a wholly reasonable expectation.

John McCain may well be the Republican nominee. That may
be clear as early as this week. Conservatives who fought him on
immigration last spring, who read Esquire, who listen to Rush Limbaugh
and Mark Levin and Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, who remember a John
McCain open to running with John Kerry…are justified in being concerned
about the “maverick” Arizona senator who stood proudly with
pro-abortion politicians Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger last
week in California at a time when he was being urged to reconcile with
conservatives.

Another thing everyone is talking about today (Wall Street Journal,
Rush Limbaugh, Kathryn Jean Lopez…) is the three legs of the
conservative Republican stool, and which one(s) voters will be willing
to knock out to preserve the other(s).

Mitt Romney is fighting today and tomorrow for the three
legs of the stool — keeping the Republican party conservative on
foreign policy, economics, and social issues. I hope he succeeds. With
close races in some Super Tuesday states and with what we’ve seen so
far (few would have put their money on McCain being anything close to a
front-runner a few months ago), it’s possible. But if he doesn’t
succeed and steps aside, John McCain would be wise not to pretend to be
the guy that Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney supporters have been
dreaming would be their nominee. He’s not the man of conservatives’
dreams, nor does he want to be.

And about the only thing the media are saying about Gov. Mike
Huckabee is that he’s staying in the race to take votes away from Mitt
Romney. But Huckabee has growing grassroots support among social or
moral conservatives, who have cranked up their machinery to get out the
faith-based vote Tuesday for the one candidate who has never wavered
from strong support of the sanctity of life and marriage. Though, the
fiscal conservatives have problems with Huckabee…

Back on the Democratic side, the Kennedy family is divided between
their party’s two lead candidates, and getting more so. I caught the
impromtu appearance Sunday by Maria Shriver in California endorsing
Sen. Barack Obama. She said if he were a state, he would be California.
But she also said we are in a time when ‘we follow our own truths.’

Which, come to think of it, pretty well explains a lot of the clashes in the culture and politics right now.

And speaking of families, the Times blog mentions this:

With Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Obama locked
in a tight race before Tuesday’s voting, there seems to be family
feuding everywhere, with prominent and everyday Democrats alike finding
themselves taking different sides than their spouses, siblings, parents
or children. There is former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin
(Clinton supporter) and his son James (Obama); Representative Charles
B. Rangel (Clinton) and his wife, Alma (Obama); the Rev. Jesse Jackson
(Obama), his wife, Jacqueline (Clinton), and their sons (split).

And by the way, though you’d never know it, Ron Paul and Alan Keyes are still in the race.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....