Question Of The Day: Will A One-term Pledge Help Mccain?

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THE PLANK AUGUST 12, 2008

Question Of The Day: Will A One-term Pledge Help Mccain?

McCain staffers are hinting that the senator may take a one-term pledge at the GOP convention next month (Mike has the transcript of an interesting Rick Davis/Chris Wallace exchange here).  And now, via Andrew Sullivan, I see that the Anonymous Liberal is speculating on what such a move would mean:

But if McCain uses his speech to make a one term pledge, that's all
anyone will talk about for days. It will trigger an orgy of adulatory
press coverage for McCain. The Beltway press corps will absolutely trip
over themselves to heap praise on McCain for taking such a bold step
and putting the "well-being of his country ahead of his own political
ambitions," and Obama will be put on the defensive almost immediately.So
the Obama team really needs to be prepared to deal with this
contingency should it arise.

Really? Ramesh Ponnuru has argued this case before, and maybe, as the Anonymous Liberal predicts, the press will focus on McCain's selflessness were he to take the pledge. But it still does not follow that anyone will vote for the guy because he only plans to serve one term. Ponnuru also thinks that the pledge would help McCain's maverick, above-politics image, and I would agree...if McCain were fifty years old. But he is in his seventies. Making this pledge will just lead to a whole slew of stories about his age, which may cause people to think twice about giving him even a single term. That speculation is probably unfair, however: It is hard to imagine that the move would shift any votes one way or another. What am I missing?

--Isaac Chotiner 

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