Mr. Weaver has long been at war with the GOP mainstream, and his candidates typically end up running against some element of the Republican base. That was his strategy in 2000 with John McCain, who won New Hampshire but lost in South Carolina after attacking fellow Republicans....The trouble with the strategy is that... it draws huzzahs from the media! The media lures Republicans into embracing the most liberal candidate, but they will turn on him as soon as he gets the nomination. That's what happened with John McCain, who, once nominated, wasn't liberal enough for liberals or conservative enough for conservatives. There's some idea that the moderates are left to throng to this liberalish Republican. (I just typo'd "Republicant" and before deleting the "t," considered, as an alternative, inserting an apostrophe.)
The trouble with the strategy is that while it draws huzzahs from the media, attacking Republicans rarely appeals to enough . . . Republicans. This year in particular it's hard to see much room for Mr. Huntsman running to the left of Mr. Romney. The GOP as "anti-science" was a main Democratic theme in the past decade but also isn't likely to move many Republicans now. Perhaps Mr. Huntsman thinks this will carve out ideological space to be the "moderate" choice as vice president, which on present course is his only chance of getting on the ticket.
I don't know if I'm the typical moderate, but I am a moderate, and I specifically had a problem with McCain's lack of conservatism. This was written on October 8, 2008, the morning after a debate, the day I abandoned my "cruel neutrality" perspective on the election and decided to vote against McCain:
McCain offered no defense of his party, only assertions that he had tried to get [financial] regulations passed. So, there he was, embedded in failure. He didn't stand by the principles of conservatism...In the end, summing up my 4 reasons for rejecting McCain, I said "He never defined himself as a principled conservative."
Look at how McCain failed to promote conservatism. McCain brought up Ronald Reagan 3 times: once to say he opposed him about sending troops to Lebanon and the other 2 times to say it was wonderful the way he worked with the liberal Tip O'Neill.
McCain never presented the conservative alternative to Obama. He never even called himself a conservative last night. He was wandering all over that red carpet, microphone in hand, and I have the feeling, in retrospect, that he was truly bewildered, mouthing old phrases, trying to slip by. But one old phrase that was missing was "I'm a proud conservative." Remember when he used to say that?
So, speaking as a moderate, I'd like to say that I want the Republican candidate to define himself in conservative terms and defend that conservative vision. That doesn't mean I want everything that ordinarily gets packaged as "conservative." I don't. But I want someone who makes sense as the leader of the Republican Party, not a... maverick who's about looking like he doesn't buy into their ideology.