UK Media: The Establishment Strikes Back

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

London ( - British media Wednesday said the results of Super Tuesday were precisely those intended by the "fixers" in the two parties - an establishment vs establishment race in November.

"The Establishment Strikes Back," was the headline the BBC suggested Senator John McCain would agree with, in keeping with his fondness for Star Wars metaphors.

It was the day when the insurgents' challenges took a dive, said the national broadcaster, beaten by "the establishment in the shape of two White House aspirants with famous political names."

Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore were "sons of celebrated fathers, darlings of the party elders, and now both racing certainties to be contesting the general presidential election in November."

An analysis in the Guardian agreed: "Super Tuesday 2000 accomplished exactly what the fixers designed it to do, by enabling the two party establishment favorites to rack up emphatic wins in yesterday's contests which effectively end their respective challengers' hopes.

"The contest in November will be Al Gore v George W. Bush, just as the party bosses planned. Bill Bradley won't you please go home now. And bye bye Johnnie McCain."

"Crushed by the Republican Party machine," commented the Daily Telegraph, which also published an entertaining profile of McCain's 88-year-old mother, Roberta.

The Guardian said bringing the California primary forward to March 7 had been a successful ploy for both parties.

On the Democrat side, it made Super Tuesday a "a hurdle which only a well-funded, well-grounded candidate could clear." With Gore having worked California for years, the result was inevitable, and "in every sense a victory for the Democratic machine that Al Gore controls."

On the GOP side, sweeping delegate-rich California and the other large states had enabled the Bush campaign to eclipse McCain's "clutch of little wins in New England states."

Various media looked at the respective state of the Bush and Gore campaigns now they seem poised for the big contest, and most felt Gore looked the stronger of the two.

Bush failed to appeal to the centrist "swing voters" who found McCain attractive, said the BBC.

"In exit polls many of these voters said they would probably back Al Gore, not George Bush in a November contest for the White House."

Bush was also seen to have been damaged by McCain's accusations of "sleazy" and "Clintonian" tactics, whereas Gore had been sharpened by the Bradley challenge.

"Mr. Bush's strategists know that Mr. McCain's bid for the Republican nomination has provided the Gore camp with plenty of ammunition that will be fired off time and again over the next eight months."

The BBC also noted that Bush's large campaign war chest has been all but emptied, leaving him and Gore "much more evenly matched in terms of resources."

For the vice president, "in many ways [Bradley's] challenge forced Mr. Gore to become a better candidate. He slimmed down his top-heavy campaign, introduced a new, combative, tone and began to give Americans a sense of who he was."

All is not gloomy for Bush, however, it said. He will ram home the message that the country needs a change after eight years of Clinton-Gore in the White House and the scandals associated with the administration.

With the predicted exit of McCain and Bradley, the Guardian pondered the future choices of those who had backed them.

"It is not clear that either Bush or Gore holds any instant appeal for what, a couple of
weeks ago, called itself 'the McCain majority'."

Although there was a possibility of the Reform Party now becoming a larger player, the paper suggested it was more likely "the political rebels will simply decide to sit this one out, reducing the turnout in November still further in a country where fewer than half of the electorate now vote in presidential elections."