I think that I had best spare Tim the pain of hearing the news from the hostile mouth of the BBC that his prediction of the demise of his champion Rudy Giuliani has come to pass. Word is streaming through thick and fast on all the US newswires that John McCain has clinched the Florida vote, with Mitt Romney second and Giuliani a distant third. And I, for one, am delighted.
As Tim (and other Giulianites such as Douglas Murray and Nile Gardiner) can testify, I have been a McCainiac since his 2008 campaign was but a glint in the eye. Perhaps unsurprising really as the Patrons list of the Henry Jackson Society is top-heavy with McCain foreign policy advisers. I watched in horror as his campaign imploded last summer, sat there more in hope than expectation through the autumn (I'll admit that I thought he was out of it but stayed loyal to the cause in glum desperation) and then slowly once again dared to believe that he could triumph in the winter. And now revel in the prospect that he will surge through in the spring.
I could have lived with a Giuliani victory in the nomination process, but it wouldn't have been with any enthusiasm. Why? Because I don't believe he could have beaten either of the leading Democrats. Whereas McCain can. And, if you believe that international security depends on an assertive USA ready to expand democratic space and fight for human rights internationally, and that McCain and Giuliani are the two candidates who can best deliver this approach (there is an ideological difference over nation-building between the two that is in McCain's favour in my view, but let's not go into that) then you've got to go with the candidate most likely to win in the general election. McCain.
And McCain can do this precisely because only he can win over the independents who will decide the election. America wants change. 7 out of 10 Americans think their country is heading in the wrong direction. And McCain's independent and principled leadership record speaks to the change agenda in a way that Giuliani never could. The latter's success in reducing crime in New York and his post 9/11 stoicism pale into consideration with McCain's personal Vietnam era heroism, and his constant willingness to advocate unpopular causes from campaign reform, to immigration reform to Iraq. Americans will not always agree with McCain, but they respect him for being bold. And know he will not be bound by convention when making key decisions.
I shall admit to being selfish here. I don't give two hoots about whether McCain is the perfect candidate from a US conservative perspective. As a non-US citizen, that's for Americans to argue through. Although for the record, someone who preaches clean government, wants a balanced budget and is once again signed up to the tax-cutting agenda he endorsed in the 1980s seems pretty conservative to me.
No, what concerns me as a Brit is whether he can best deliver an international policy that will promote the freedom and liberty agenda and serve notice to rogue states, the sponsors of terror and tyrants everywhere that their cards are marked. And that the world can be a safer and better place. I believe that he can. I think Republicans are increasingly aware that he can. And I expect that the US electorate will confirm this is due course.