|07-18-2008, 01:35 PM||#1|
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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Jul 3rd 2008
From The Economist print edition
John McCain is veering off to the right—and making things too easy for Barack Obama
When more than 80% of Americans tell pollsters that they think the country is on the wrong track, and when only 28% of them believe that the president is doing a good job, you don’t need a Karl Rove or a Dick Morris to tell you that the road to the White House involves steering well clear of the incumbent’s policies. So why is John McCain not doing it?
The Republican candidate has always been close to George Bush when it comes to defending two fundamental, if unpopular, points of principle—the Iraq war and free trade. But in recent months Mr McCain has slid to the right on a series of other issues, including tax cuts, offshore drilling, immigration and even torture. This manoeuvring seems insincere and short-sighted.
Sincerity is important with Mr McCain. He has been at his most attractive, especially to independents such as this newspaper, when he stands up for issues that he believes in. On the Iraq war, his position has been almost Churchillian: victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror. Declaring that he would rather lose an election than a war is paradoxically one of the Republican candidate’s most valuable electoral assets. It makes him sound like a commander-in-chief.
The same goes for Mr McCain’s support for free-trade agreements. Only a third of the country thinks these are good for America, the lowest figure, alas, in the developed world. But Mr McCain’s position has been clear, consistent and right. As with Iraq, it is his opponent, Barack Obama, who is having to track towards the centre, trying to renounce some of the crowd-pleasing claptrap he uttered in the primaries.
That this newspaper admires Mr McCain for taking positions it agrees with may seem hardly surprising. Yet he still maintains some of his allure when he takes the wrong course, but does so plainly out of principle. His support for the embargo on Cuba and his opposition to gun control at home may be wrong-headed, but they are genuine. His League of Democracies and his overheated rhetoric about Iran are misguided, but they are consistent with his political history. In a world short of conviction politicians, Mr McCain’s Straight Talk Express has its charms.
But not when the straight talker starts saying things it is very hard to imagine that he remotely believes in. It was a bad omen last year when this freewheeling western conservative in the Reagan mould went off to court the intolerant Christian right. And recently, the flip-flops have come rapidly. Once a vigorous opponent of Mr Bush’s tax cuts, he says he wants not only to continue but also to extend them. Once a champion of greenery, he has called not only for an expensive petrol-tax holiday (something Mr Obama cleverly resisted) but also for a resumption of drilling off America’s coast. Once a supporter of closing down Guantánamo Bay, he recently criticised the Supreme Court for daring to suggest that inmates deserve the right of habeas corpus. He has edged to the right on two other areas where he used to be hated by his party’s conservatives as a dangerous maverick: on torture (he won’t rule out water-boarding) and immigration reform (he says fix the border first, which will take an eternity).
Don’t be spooked, John
It is true that America still has more conservatives than liberals. But the Republican Party has known for a long time that Mr McCain is not precisely one of them—and they still chose him anyway. Conservatives were smart enough to see that his appeal to independents and floating voters, who make up a larger proportion of the electorate than either of the two main parties, is their only hope of retaining the White House.
American elections classically involve a two-step: the candidate runs to the extreme in the primary, then back to the centre for the general. Mr Obama is doing that. Mr McCain seems to be doing precisely the opposite. It is a mistake.
Copyright © 2008 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
|07-18-2008, 02:08 PM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: May 2001
Also, steering clear of Bushs' policies would be a good thing, if he steered right of them, but instead he will likely choose the left, which is why he will pickup some of the middle folks, which mightmakeup for the votes he will loose -- he is making a calculated choice. McCains tone has been shifting right, but I dont belive it, he is left of Bush on most things -- global warming and Imigration, and teh unfairness doctrine. I still dont know what I am going to do come November and who will be more detructive long term. I believe that Obama will be worse short term, but IF things are not too messed up in four years maybe a real conservative (not McCain, or George Bush like) they will be able to shrink government size and spending...I can always dream.
Last edited by Bob; 07-18-2008 at 02:12 PM..
|07-18-2008, 02:22 PM||#4|
Just hanging out.
Join Date: Aug 2005
Last edited by DenverBrit; 07-18-2008 at 03:24 PM..
|07-18-2008, 08:35 PM||#5|
Mo' holla fo' yo' dolla!
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: In a bunker in an undisclosed location