To my amazement, Senator John McCain has not yet demanded that ground troops be sent into Austria if it allows the Freedom Party in its government. That would be the trendy move, and media liberals must be sorely disappointed in their champion. They may rest assured, however, that when they need Senator McCain, he will be there for them.

We all remember that while other Republicans were dragging their feet on bombing Serbia, McCain was trumping Clinton with a demand for ground troops and double the bombing effort.

But McCain looks like the only really live candidate running.

Watching Bradley campaign in New Hampshire, I got the impression that he was a very bored, tired man. Never a smile and no energy.

If "bland" could be a verb, I would say that one got the impression that Bush was trying to bland his way into the nomination.

Gore was Gore.

In fact, a little excitement is the only reason that Bradley wasn't crushed in a landslide the way Bush was. In the closing days of the campaign, Bradley started hitting back against Gore's attacks with negative ads. As a result, polls showed that 68% of the voters who made up their minds in the last three days chose Bradley.

McCain was the only candidate who appeared enthusiastic, and his rallies reflected it. I discussed this side of politics on March

20, 1999 in "BOOOORING!" The Bush strategy has been to keep his image as middle-of-the-road as possible. The normal strategy is to run right of center in the Republican primaries, where voters are more conservative, and then to move toward the middle of the road after securing the nomination. Bush is trying to make it all the way with his speedometer pointed to Bland.

New Hampshire has been tending toward rebels in recent years. They went for Buchanan over Dole, and they went for McCain over Bush big time. South Carolina plodded along with Dole, and saved his candidacy because he was sure to beat Clinton.

All the polls said so.

McCain is coming out of New Hampshire with two things Buchanan did not have in 1996. First, he won by a landslide in New Hampshire. Secondly, and more important, he has the unanimous backing of the national press. This is because, while McCain has a steady conservative voting record in the Senate, he can always be counted on to back the liberals on any issue that really matters to them.

The key word here is MATTERS. McCain can make the usual noises about abortion, but it's easy to avoid action on that. He will make the usual pronouncements about smaller government, but his major initiative on the subject was to push a government windfall tax on tobacco. That would have brought over five hundred billion dollars into the Feds, and no one can tell me that libs wouldn't have gotten a good slice of that for their programs.

The tobacco taxes would have landed right on the backs of working people, which is where liberals like them. Another windfall for liberals would be the campaign "reform" which McCain is leading the fight for. He is practically the only Republican backing it, and for a good reason. It cuts into Republican and grassroots fund sources, but leaves the big unions totally free to back liberals.

McCain supporters keep claiming he is just being "independent." I cannot give that the slightest credence until McCain takes AT LEAST ONE BRAVE STAND against other Republicans WHICH IS NOT the exact stand trendy liberals want him to take. By any accounting, that is the difference between an independent thinker and a simple sellout.

McCain is a fanatical backer of the liberal agenda in foreign policy. When Clinton wanted to intervene in Kosovo, McCain wanted to make it a full-scale war.

Liberals are not consistently anti-military. During World War II, the entire left, including the Communists, backed the military solidly in its battle against the fascist right. It was only after the Cold War began against the Communist Progressive Peoples' Republics that leftism took a pacifist turn. Since the Cold War, America's military adventures have looked good to the left. As Clinton's Secretary of State Albright pointed out, a big military is fine if it can be used for her purposes ( See April 24, 1999, Madeleine Albright Asks, "What Good Are American Lives?").

When the gun bill was dying in the Senate, the two old reliables, McCain and Hatch, tried desperately to save it. Hatch wanted to please Teddy Kennedy (See August 14, 1999, "Orrin Loves Teddy"). McCain wanted to keep his reputation with liberals for being there when they needed him.

Meanwhile, Bush is supposed to be the "electable" one. That means that he is going for the so-called "middle of the road" vote. Now, in the real world, nobody knows where this middle of the road is. The media are constantly telling us that if a Republican takes a "moderate" stand, liberal on some issues and conservative on others, he will win.

In the real world, most people who actually get elected to Congress are consistently conservative or liberal. If this "middle of the road" business actually worked, we would find congressmen clustering right there in the middle of this mythical road. But, to

repeat, if you look at their ADA and ACA voting records, you will find that congressmen cluster on the left and on the right.

So, when Republicans nominated moderates, on the basis of the good old, plausible-sounding middle of the road nonsense, they lost. Reagan won twice. Ford lost. Dole lost. Bush, Sr. won once when he ran as Reagan's successor and lost when he ran as his moderate self. The media is always selling Republicans on this middle of the road nonsense and for good reason. It keeps liberals in office.

Liberals are able to sell the middle of the road program to Republicans. They are good at selling their programs. And as always with programs liberals, it doesn't work.

True to a tradition of stupidity, Republicans usually take the advice of their enemies on political strategy.