Nathan Newman provides a dose of reality for anyone getting too complacent or overjoyed in observing the slow implosion of the Bush administration:

One of the danger signs for Democrats that a Bush collapse doesn’t necessarily mean much for progressive gains in policy are the polls showing that John McCain could step up and poll almost twenty points more than either Hillary Clinton or John Kerry in 2008.

Of course, a lot of this is due to the McCain image of “moderation”, but it highlights why Dems can’t depend on “clean government” as their whole rhetoric, since there will be GOPers like McCain happy to grab the anti-scandal banner. So Dems need more than scandal; they need to take down the whole GOP agenda and make it clear that folks like McCain, despite his media image, is ultimately down with the whole conservative policy agenda.

I’ve been flummoxed by the apathetic toleration of McCain (even on the left) before. To some extent, this is a side-effect of the miserable nature of the Bush administration – that the country as a whole has been forced to make such concessions in our political leadership. Just as you’ve got apologists on the right that have to resort to “our human rights violations and shadowy detention centers aren’t as bad as Stalin’s!”, everyone else is looking at McCain and going “well, at least he doesn’t openly advocate torture!”.

This is good of him, of course, but it’s hardly a ringing endorsement. It does, however, bode well for McCain’s popularity on the right in 2008, as Republicans avert their eyes from the sinking ship of the Bush administration and try to find a viable alternative.

So, while the Bush administration may be imploding, the reality of a very strong republican McCain campaign becomes ever more likely. Progressives would do well to avoid getting too comfortable and to start highlighting the weaknesses of the positions that McCain stands for.