The World According to John McCain

CNN has called Vermont and Ohio for John McCain. (What’s his Ben & Jerry’s flavor ?) But we’re going to go out on a limb and assume he’ll win the other two contests as well. McCain has been acting like the nominee for a few weeks already. Does tonight change anything? Here’s a quick portrait of the new landscape:

  • Huckabee must go. If you include the delegates “released” to him by Romney, McCain will now have the 1,191 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. So, Huckabee, despite his skepticism when it comes to mathematics , pretty much has to bow out. (Of course, that’s what everyone said after Feb. 5.) The question is how. We’re betting on a rock concert. [Update 9:21 p.m.: Huckabee is dropping out as we speak, kicking off his speech with a baseball metaphor. Where’s the slap bass? ]
  • The Democratic death march. The longer the Democratic race drags on, the more McCain benefits. If Hillary manages to survive through Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary, that gives McCain a six week head start to fundraise, plot strategy, and get eight hours of sleep a night.
  • Find a veep. McCain claims he hasn’t given a single thought to his vice presidential pick. Nonsense. Gov. Charlie Crist, who helped McCain win Florida, is now reupping his own value by advocating another Democratic primary in Florida, which would guarantee a long and painful race for the Dems. Other potential picks are no doubt getting in line to give McCain a great back rub.
  • Taking care of business. You may recall that John McCain has a day job serving as a United States senator. By locking up the nomination now, he can spend more time with the day-to-day of writing and voting on legislation. This is a big deal for senators during presidential campaigns, who are usually vulnerable to charges of skipping votes. The more time McCain can log in the Senate, the more he can ding Clinton or Obama for playing hooky.
  • Projecting inevitability. President Bush is expected to endorse McCain tomorrow. Shocker, I know. But the passing of the crown does let McCain start tapping the resources of the Republican establishment and acting like a president. Plus, the more he can do to tamp down the “maverick” label, the better. At the same time, though, with Bush’s approval rating still in the toilet, he wants to avoid looking like a third Bush term.