Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hanson on McCain

I'm not totally sold on McCain--indeed my list of candidates from most to least dangerous reads:

H. Clinton

By "dangerous," I mean intent on pushing through legislation to try to fix things. Obama's a starry-eyed idealist, which is always dangerous. McCain's got bipartisan support to do stuff, but conservatives should not want to do stuff, they should want to undo stuff or leave things alone. Clinton is a politician like her hubby and will back down as soon as she senses she might get burned. Huckabee's got no chance.

That said, Victor Davis Hanson's post on McCain makes a lot of sense. Here is the text:

There were four developments that got conservatives into this mess — the inexcusable increase of federal spending from 2001-05 (that gave mendacious Democrats room to fabricate that the tax cuts had caused the red ink), the sordid scandals of 2005-7, the tentativeness in the war (cf. the 1st pull-back from Fallujah, the reprieve to Sadr, the retreat to compounds in 2006, etc), and the complete unwillingness to close the border. McCain was involved with only one of these.

On these four critical issues, would McCain be far better than Clinton or Obama? He is good on earmarks and pork barrel spending, and hates deficits; he is without scandal and, while terribly wrong on McCain-Feingold, is a corruption fighter; and he is aggressive on the war and wants to win. The problem with his prior support of immigration "reform" was not just that it would lead to ever more illegals and make a mockery out of past federal law, but that he either ignored criticism or impugned the motives of those who were genuinely worried about open borders and the travesty of the law, but themselves were neither racists nor without compassion.

So on 3 of 4 critical issues, McCain in strong, and on the 4th he is now on record in speeches and ads that he would close the borders first. His views on religion, abortion, gay marriage, guns, etc. please mainstream conservatives; on global warming, Guantanamo, campaign financing, etc. hardly.

How then to recapture the base? I don't think the attitude "they have nowhere else to go" or "we don't want to lose moderates by moving right" will work, especially if Obama is the nominee.

It would be better to get a base conservative on the ticket. And when you look around at the necessary requisites: youth to balance McCain's age; strong base support; energetic; an experienced campaigner; not afraid to mix it up; geographical balance; economic experience and Wall Street fides; you inevitably keep coming back to Romney.

He would unite the party, not just by gaining the VP spot, but by acknowledgment that he would then be best positioned to assume the top spot after McCain. It would reassure conservatives on immigration, tax cuts, etc. And Romney's last two weeks of speeches revealed a charismatic figure unlike that seen most of the campaign.

Their animus is no greater than between Bush I ("voodoo economics") and Reagan in 1980, but would be a genuine gesture on the part of McCain, to think of the base and swallow his seeming anger at Romney.

The alternative is a Republican loss, and likely increased Democratic control of the Congress and soon a trifecta with the Supreme Court.

We would witness a new generation of European-like tax increases, unnecessary new programs, negotiated or unilateral surrender in Iraq, loss of what has been achieved in preventing another 9/11 (a return to the Sandy Berger/Albright response to terrorists in the late 1990s when our embassies were leveled and Pakistan got the bomb), 2-3 far Left Supreme Court justices, and the race/class/gender industry given official sanction.

The idea that feuding conservatives would each not make some sort of concessions to prevent all that is lunatic.
I don't think Romney will be the VP candidate, and I'm not even sure that McCain will go for a conservative. My feeling on McCain is that he figures his record ought to stand on its own, kind of like it does for Hanson. So let me stir the pot, play a little identity politics, and stay consistent with McCain's philosophy when it comes to the VP candidate: Christine Todd Whitman.

(Somewhere Rush Limbaugh's head just exploded.)


dcat said...

Wait, am I reading this correctly: You think someone who supports legislation (er, ok -- no difference between legislation, just wants to pass legislation? Damned 1964 Civil Rights Act . . .) is worse than someone who does not believe in evolution?

Do conservatives really pass less legislation than liberals? I'd be willing to bet the answer to that is no, just as government does not shrink under Republicans and divorce is not lower in states where more politicians claim to speak for family values.

Using words like "dangerous" strikes me as pretty sloppy and irresponsible. There is actual danger from people who are actually dangerous. To make dangerous mean "someone whose politics I don't like" seems, well, a bit dangerous.


Tom said...

Yes, believe it or not, I actually wrote what I meant. All things being equal, and most legislation is roughly equal when it comes out the committee-lobbyist-legislator sausage grinder, I'd rather have less than more. Especially if more includes entitlement programs for illegal immigrants, tax hikes, and socialized medicine. Not because I hate babies and candy canes and bunny rabbits, although I do, but because I think that type of legislation generally hurts everyone in the long term, which seems dangerous to me.

That is actually a large part of what being conservative is all about. So yes, normatively, conservatives should pass less legislation than liberals, but descriptively Republicans are willing to pass as much or more legislation than Democrats. Especially if that Republican is George W. Bush or John McCain.

And I don't care if someone does not believe in evolution, nor do I care if that person tries to convince me that evolution doesn't exist, as long as he or she doesn't try to pass legislation insisting that everyone not believe in evolution.

montana urban legend said...

Tom, they don't need to pass legislation insisting that that everyone not believe in evolution. They just make sure to support legislation that mandates school boards redefine what science "is" so that the kids grow up brainwashed to disbelieve evolution. It's easier that way. More efficient and all.

There's got to be some example of rational thinking that someone would reject before you would stop not caring whether it affects their judgment as a political leader. Would a disbelief in gravity be off the table?

Tom said...


dcat said...

Tom --

I suppose we're cut from different cloth entirely. But you're the one who used the word "dangerous" so it's sort of your burden to prove that legislation is "dangerous." You might have meant what you wrote, but what you wrote was, well, irresponsible. The idea that more legislation is "dangerous" is a bizarre way of presenting it. As a conservative you disagree. Fine. but to assert that people like me who disagree with you are advocating dangerous ideas is pretty Orwellian.
I support aid for children of illegal immigrants who may themselves be illegal through no fault of their own. I support taxes when we decide to spend more than we take in. It seems, I dunno, responsible. I support broader access to healthcare. Putting "socialist" in front of it is a nice GOP scare tactic, and the sort of thing you normally oppose when the term is,say, "fascist" or "nazi." I have never heard you complain about socialized roads or socialized public schools. Or, I suppose, "socialized" health care for public employees.


Tom said...

Okay, so you as a liberal support the three programs I mentioned, and I as a conservative oppose them. If you would like to talk about the reasons for our different positions, I would be happy to do so, but I couldn't possibly care less about having a semantics argument over "dangerous" and "socialized" or whatever other word you understand just fine but feel compelled not to give me the benefit of the doubt on.

montana urban legend said...

At the risk of intruding, would it be so impolitic to point out that the kind of legislation that Obama's sponsored and achieved is considerably less "socialist" than his detractors would suggest? Although it's harder to paint the descriptor "transparent" with the same kind of pejorative brushstroke than it would be to do so with "socialist" these days, I would say that his initially unpopular, and ultimately unanimously supported bill to videotape crime confessions in Illinois was not such a "socialist" thing. I would also suggest that the Coburn-Obama Transparency Bill was not such a "socialist" thing.

And I would further point out, that as long as we are ranking perceived "socialists" according to the danger they represent in advancing socialism, Obama's health care proposals are less "socialist" than Hillary's in not mandating coverage by garnishing wages if necessary. His mortgage crisis proposals (endorsed by Paul Volker) are less "socialist" in not introducing price controls. And so on and so forth.

In this rush, now by the other side, to kneecap the prospective Democratic nominee, might I suggest that the old right-left rhetoric might be less effective this time around - seeing the extent to which his political direction actually consists of successful bipartisan efforts at making government more accountable, the extent to which his social policies account for sensible economic considerations and a respect for individual rights, and the extent to which he is much better than the formerly presumptive Democratic nominee when it comes to any of these things? Given the degree to which the Bush administration has not only grown the size and reach of government, but its controversial commitment to intruding into the lives of Americans - an intrusion that Obama, given his legislative focus, would be well positioned to stand against - one might suppose it so.

Just wondering.

montana urban legend said...

And might I also suggest, given Obama's broad appeal/support and commitment to cleansing the propensity for corruption of government, that what the Right is afraid of is not so much that he would advance Socialism, but merely that he would look that much better than their side in doing things that they can't object to - giving future Democratic candidates better political standing, and possibly, theoretically giving them the opportunity to have an even better chance at winning elected office down the road - whether they "advance Socialism" or not?

Again, just wondering.