This would not be the last time a “Maverick” would run amok, wreaking havoc in it's wake. A dozen years later another Nor'easter would come up the coast out of Florida, touch the Carolinas, take Virginia and sweep clean the landscape as it pressed down hard on New England. When the sun rose on November 5, Guy Fawkes Day in Britain, not a Goppite was to be found. Representative Chris Shays of Connecticut became the last of the New England pachyderms in the House of Representatives to go the way of the pterodactyl. Now no Republican representation in the House is to be found anywhere in New England. In the Senate Republicans have only the two seats from Maine. For the Republican party fertile ground, once home to the Lodge's and the Sunnunu's, Governors Sergeant, King and Romney, Senators Edmond Brooke and Warren Rudman, has been laid waste by two land-lubbers in the persons of McCain and Palin who had seized the helm of the good ship “Maverick”,cut her loose from her moorings, and proceeded to run her hard aground.
It was a splendid wreck, but a wreck nonetheless, reminiscent of the days of Katrina when McCain then partied down with 'Ol Two-Cows while the city drown. One could sense as the storm bore down on the country that nothing good, from the GOP's point of view, could come of this. A generation ago another senator from Arizona would happily wage war on both New England and the Middle Class producing similar results for the Grand Old Party. McCain, now sitting in Goldwater's seat, came north avowing to finish the job. A certain giddiness took over the campaign as it lurched from issue to issue, pseudo-issue to pseudo-issue, and smear to smear, seeking to right itself in the face of the howling winds. The good Marshall, unfamiliar with either storm or sea, took to the ship-to-shore radio and announced that “we've got them just where we want them, c'mon everybody let's party!”, as if by whistling past Davey Jones'Locker he could keep the inevitable at bay. Palin, for her part, went on a spending spree like a drunken sailor, becoming what one McCain aide was later quoted as saying “Wasilla Hillbillies plundering every Neiman Marcus store across America”. It was a wretched exhibition of seamanship demonstrating that there was not a sailor in the lot.
Indeed there was not a sailor in the lot. McCain's campaign had early on been taken over by lobbyists. In fact John McCain himself, since the days of the "Keating 5", had been nothing but a shill for the K-street gang. His campaign, accordingly, was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Washington lobbyists. Every major policy, advisory, or staff position was held by a lobbyist, right down to former Senator Phil Gram his economic advisor and author of deregulation turned lobbyist for the very industries he deregulated; and right down to his foreign policy advisor who was a paid lobbyist for the nation of Georgia. Lobbyists certainly have a role to play. At best they are a vast source of information, at worst a vast source of disinformation and corrupting campaign contributions. They can help craft legislation in ways that certainly protect industry, but can also move to eviscerate laws by unduly influencing the rule-making process through which enabling legislation is implemented. Until McCain recruited them 'en masse' to run his campaign, however, they have not heretofore played serious roles in political campaign organization. The consequences were telling. Lobbyists, by their very nature, influence the political process through making political contributions and pigeonholing. This is best known as 'inside the beltway' politics, the kind of politics often accused of thwarting the 'will of the people', but effective nonetheless. Campaigning, on the other hand, is 'retail' politics, in which the nominal leaders of the country stump the nation in an effort to persuade and convince. This takes an entirely different approach, best perhaps demonstrated by advertising consultants and pollsters, and requires an entirely different set of skills. The 'Forked-Tongue Express' while consulting pols and pollsters nevertheless was, root and branch, a creature of K-Street. Accordingly political decisions, the choice of Sarah Palin for Vice President a perfect example, was based on a series of erroneous assumptions that only complete amateurs could have made. For instance women, it was held, would readily move from Hillary to Sarah despite having to cross party lines and leaping across a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon on issues such as abortion, child care, health care, social spending, and education. Similarly the steadfast refusal of the 'Fork-Tongued Express' to address the screaming needs of a middle class writhing in economic pain, a failure even to utter the words 'middle class', belied a tone deafness that can only be attributed to a band of complete amateurs. No, there was not a sailor in the lot, a campaign that had all the earmarks of a “Three Stooges” comedy, right down to calling the middle class a bunch of 'whiners', threatening, if successful, to transform the ship of state once again into a “Ship of Fools.”
The nation would have no more of it. Late this week the Goppites met in Virginia to discuss the future of the Republican Party. The first order of business was to gather up the remains of the good ship “Maverick” and put her to the torch.