January 25, 2008

McCain is not the Sum of all Evil

 In the previous post I expressed dismay at the current Republican field. I linked to Rusty Shackleford's thoughtful endorsement of Romney. I also mentioned that, nevertheless, it is McCain whom I'm (very tentatively) leaning towards.

In the comments to that post, the fantastically talented RH Junior makes his case against McCain.

 I would think McCain's track record as a living threat to the Constitution would count more.

"You signed a bill that makes it a crime to pay for a political ad around election time."

"But I fought in the WAR! Look, here's my scar...!"

Sorry, I want to elect a President, not a war wound.

Fair enough, though, I disagree. However, it is instructive to examine the (not unfounded) aversion to McCain that many thoughtful righties have.

McCain was a solid republican Senator for several years until he was involved in the Keating Savings and Loan scandal in the late '80s. The Keating 5 were rebuked more for an appearance of impropriety rather than any actual impropriety and it has been suggested that McCain's being on the list was primarily to allow the Democrats to present the scandal as "a bipartisan problem".

McCain's behavior in the Hanoi Hilton indicates he places a high importance on personal honor... and this besmirched his honor. He was forthright...perhaps self deprecating...in his admission of poor judgment (in doing what was pretty standard senatorial behavior at the time)  and worked to regain his image.

He worked rather too hard.

McCain became the darling of the press by doing the one thing sure to endear a Republican to the press....namely bashing his fellow Republicans.

This did NOT endear him to many conservatives, but McCain reaped considerable benefits in favorable press coverage.  McCain, very concious of his good name, particularly after how much he had suffered for it, seemed to become obsessed with the Keating blot on his record and determined to sweep it away.

In addition to the "straight talk"...(which sounded  a LOT like backstabbing to certain other Republicans) he engaged in a quest for campaign finance reform.

Now the history of campaign finance reform is remarkably similar to the evolution of drug resistant diseases....every attempt  has caused the financing to mutate and rejigger itself through some loophole so that in a few election cycles the graft is at pre-reform levels...but rather harder to trace.

The result of this test is that to many conservatives....myself included...the best finance reform is strictly enforced transparency. (This is especially true now given the potential of the Internet...money is a big factor but not AS big as it once was and that trend is likely to accelerate...if not stymied by "reform")

McCain went with a rather more spectacular idea.

The reform legislation was the McCain-Feingold law which combined perceived solutions to several pet peeves of the Republicans and Democrats into a Byzantine overarching mess that allows the US government to get involved in local first amendment issues....see here, here and here . The upshot is that speech leading up to an election is restricted quite odiously. This is not at all in keeping with the principles of a Republic.

Note that it DOES get worse (but only if you are not a Democrat). You see, the "Press" is exempt so there can be coverage, but only by the "Press"....who is the "Press"? Well, it is whoever the Federal Election commission decides it is. The MSM are, of course, grandfathered (natch). Given their general hostility to Republicans this is not a good thing for those of us on the right.

This, however, is merely a tactical concern, the real problem with this odious legislation is the insane idea that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can determine if a car dealership can run ads or decide if a grass roots organization can run an ad during a certain part of the year.

This is what RH Junior means when he mentions a living threat to the constitution. It strikes at the heart of our republic and sets a precedent that is extremely unhealthy.

This is bad news.

That being said...

Bush (who many people unfriendly towards McCain like rather more) is the one who signed this legislative abortion into law...using the blinkered notion that he'd just rely on the Supreme Court to strike it down.

Option A: He is telling the truth and signed a law he felt was UNCONSTITUTIONAL into law...assuming the SCOTUS would do his job for him.

Option B: He really saw nothing wrong with it. (ew!)

Neither is good, but I don't hear calls for impeaching the POTUS from McCain's detractors on the right.  My own issues with the POTUS from before it was fashionable in my circles are here.

Of the remaining 3 viable candidates, McCain seems not terribly worse than the others on most issues, better on gun control, better on foreign policy by way of experience and he is absolutely committed to striving to win this long war. He is, of course worse on the particular issue of campaign finance and that should not be dismissed. However, if McCain Feingold is to be fixed, such fixing will come from the Congress, not the White House.

McCain is also a genuine war hero and it is on this that I take some umbrage to the last bit of the above quote.

McCain is not an obsequiously loyal Republican...but he held faith where it mattered. Wounded, tortured and offered early release, he did not betray those with whom he served. This shows a depth of character and a force of will that is important in a commander in chief.

I do not agree with a lot of McCain's positions...but I have no doubt whatsoever that his heart is in the right place, that he will strive to win the war, and that he is acting in good faith for the nation. In this he stands in stark contrast to his most likely opponent, Hillary. On most other issues, especially foreign policy, he is still better than his likable but long shot opponent (Obama) who is both inexperienced and, I firmly believe, wrong on the most vital  issues.

That is the rub...

...and it is why I feel that Shackleford's quote here is ill conceived....


McCain can beat Hillary. But McCain is, well, McCain.

Yes, but Hillary is Hillary and that is that.

Hillary's old guard top-down leftist policies are not going to be good for the economy, our personal freedoms or the war effort. Her disdain for our service members is well documented and her views on any number of issues are either alarmingly statist or have changed with the polls like a windsock in a tornado. A recovering economy needs stability and despite views many of us disagree on, no one can accuse him of being inconsistent. He is no leftie, as this voting assessment shows. (though it is rather weighted towards the social end)

Honor does count for something as does the character implied by taking the oath to serve ones country and die a bit if called upon.

I certainly don't believe this is the Alpha and Omega of political decisions (as my declaring for Fred should make clear), but it does count for a positive, especially given McCain's performance under extreme duress. It differentiates him in a positive way from the rest of a barren field that is entirely uninspiring to a conservative such as myself.

I can get behind Romney or, with trepidation, Gulianie...but for now, McCain is the one I consider the best and most electable of the lot.

UPDATE: While McCain may not be the sum of all evil, I am the Acme of poor typists....syntax and spelling typos corrected.

UPDATE2: Oh ..yeah...I'd forgotten about that.... urp....

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 07:08 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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I'm not particularly impressed regarding arguments about "most electable". That's because I remember that the Democrats picked Kerry mainly because of that.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sat Jan 26 01:12:23 2008 (+rSRq)

2 A war record counts for nothing, if you undermine the principles for which you allegedly fought. And free speech and press is one of THE core principles of this country's founding.

All you've said here is that he has a track record of throwing the rest of his party, and more importantly, Constitutional principle, under the bus in order to preserve his own 'honor,'--- or rather, self-image. This is not what I call a selling point, for either a soldier or president.

No, there hasn't been an outcry to impeach Bush for signing McCain-Feingold. On the other hand, he didn't draft the thing, did he. He's not a legislator, or a Supreme Court justice. As Executive he only has the power to enforce the law, and his only interaction with the process of legislation is to offer suggestions, and delay or retard legislation being passed by way of a veto--- and that, not indefinitely. Refusing to sign would have only delayed the political freight train for a round or two and given the Democrats screaming about his presidential "illegitimacy" more ammo. That said, what did he have to lose by hoping the Supreme Court would do its proper job for once?

Noone's saying that McCain (or Feingold for that matter) needs to be thrown out of office. Just that it might not be a good idea to elect him to an even more powerful position than he already has.

Having a heroic war record doesn't confer great leadership abilities on you. And it certainly doesn't absolve you of wickedness or foolishness you commit elsewhere.

Me, I'm writing in Fred Thompson.

Posted by: RHJunior at Wed Jan 30 21:51:23 2008 (b97li)

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