One of the problems with John McCain's post-primary campaign has been an apparent reluctance to put any clear blue water between his candidacy and his party. Perhaps, with his campaign under new management, that's about to change.
The biggest barrier to McCain winning in November sits in the White House. George Bush's epic unpopularity would have made it hard for any Republican to win this year. But it's not just Bush. The Republican brand has been poisoned by a series of financial and sex scandals, and by the perception amongst independent voters that it is too extreme. John McCain has his own brand, however: that of an independent-minded maverick. But if he's to convince voters that he's not been captured by the party establishment, he's going to have to risk upsetting some on the right. An opportunity might be about to present itself.
The Washington Post reports that conservative elements in the GOP are preparing to battle McCain over the party's convention platform - the closest that the parties get to a manifesto. They want anything smacking of non-conservative ideology - like McCain's positions on global warming and immigration - to be taken out of the party's statement of principles. The Post presents this potential argument as a looming disaster for McCain:
A platform fight at the convention could disrupt that carefully choreographed effort by highlighting the stark differences in vision for the party separating McCain from some of the GOP's most dedicated activists.
But instead of attempting a compromise here, shouldn't McCain go looking for a fight? Staging a high profile battle with his party's conservative ideologues might be the only way to prove to voters that he is his own man. Sure, it would be messy, and unpredictable. But it might be a golden opportunity for McCain to truly electrify his campaign, and demonstrate once and for all that he marches to nobody's tune but his own.