Thursday, February 14, 2008

Meet Mr. McCain-- part I (the conservative Republican)

The media likes to harp on John McCain as some kind of a 'moderate' (not a conservative). And recently he has been only reluctantly accepted by many conservatives while others have continued to whine about his getting the nomination. They claim that because of his support and authorship of a few specific bills that McCain is 'not a true conservative.'

Well, they don't need to worry. He is. And trust me, by the time the election rolls around all or virtually all of the conservatives will be back on board. President Bush already is, and has been lavish in his praise of the man who gave his former rival, Bush, the notorious 'Hug' at the 2004 GOP convention:

Don't ever forget that hug, because it makes it clear like nothing else ever could who McCain's master is, and where his loyalty lies. The trick will be to get people tho believe that McCain is some kind of a 'moderate' to realize that he isn't.

Start with the fact that McCain has a lifetime 82% rationg from the American Conservative Union. This puts him much more in line with most Senate Republicans than it does with 'moderates.' McCain has a 100% anti-choice voting record in the Senate and uniformly supports any kind of a bill that opposes abortion. Of course hardcore conservatives like to harp on the fact that he hasn't supported amending the Constitution to make abortion illegal, but part of the reason is because McCain is smart enough to realize that such an amendment (just like an anti-gay marriage amendment) is a pipe dream that would never be ratified by the legislatures in 3/4 of the states, as required by law. So he instead pushes legislation to make it as restrictive as possible.

Further, when asked about Supreme Court nominees, McCain recently asserted his support of the Bush nominees on the Supreme Court, especially Chief Justice John Roberts. He disparaged Justice Antonin Scalia for 'wearing his conservatism on his sleeve.' This upset some talk show hosts but the truth of the matter is that if McCain appoints judges like John Roberts-- quiet conservatives who keep their conservatism hidden deep down in their vest pockets-- the result will be the same as if he appointed a loudmouth like Scalia. So look at what happens: John McCain is portrayed as a moderate, but the result if he is elected is that we will get more consevative judges.

John McCain has long opposed what he sees as 'pork' spending. Of course most so-called 'pork' is money that is invested in projects, especially in rural areas, which help people and communities but might not be affordable without the federal support. Recently though he has in fact redoubled his attacks and suggested that he will if he is President simply veto bills that have 'pork' in them, regardless of whether they are worthwhile projects or not.

Now granted, one could ask the 'anti-pork' crusader whether President Bush should have vetoed his own bill that directed $10 million to create the William H. Rehnquist Center here in Arizona (memorializing another arch-conservative Supreme Court justice who McCain admires a great deal.) But certainly his promise to blanket veto spending on such projects is hardly 'moderate.' It could be justified as hard-nosed fiscal responsibility though, if it weren't for his stance on the Bush tax cuts. Though McCain, still angry over his 2000 loss to Bush opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2001, he now supports making them permanent. And of course that will cost the government far more in revenue that the relative trifle he plans to save with his vetoes.

Health care? Well, just read what John McCain's own website says about it (if you dig deep enough and scroll down to near the bottom.)

Reform the tax code to eliminate the bias toward employer-sponsored health insurance, and provide all individuals with a $2,500 tax credit ($5,000 for families)

Now, the average family insurance policy now costs in excess of $12,000. So in other words, McCain plans to discourage your employer from continuing to offer you insurance, and replace it with a tax credit for less than half of what the premium is now (so if your employer pays half your premium now, then you will be $1,000 in the hole.) And of course if you or a family member has health issues like being a cancer survivor or having a chronic illness or disability then your premium will go much, much higher (if you can buy insurance at all once your employer quits covering you) but Mr. McCain's partial tax subsidy won't rise to cover it. So the bottom line is that the McCain plan will create more uninsured than there are now. Yup, that's what conservatives do too.

Above all, McCain is a strong conservative on foreign policy, especially the Iraq war. McCain is the chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Republican Insitute (IRI). The IRI is a para-governmental organization which was originally founded by Jeanne Kirkpatrick and other conservatives during the Reagan administration to provide a counter to Jimmy Carter's work certifying foreign elections. It found a new lease on life during the Bush administration. Because it is not a governmental agency, the IRI can conduct foreign policy (including setting up elections and educating foreign voters and perhaps less laudible goals than that-- including spreading American-style conservatism) where direct involvement by the State Department could violate U.S. or foreign laws. A quick glance at the full membership of the Board of Directors shows that in addition to McCain, it includes Paul Bremer (the first U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the war), Bush I-era cronies Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger, former GOP chairman Frank Fahrenkopf and three other sitting or former Congressmen or Senators (all Republicans) and various members of the military-industrial complex.

McCain voted enthusiastically for the AUMF in October 2002 and was a supporter of the 'surge' from its opening days. He has spared no expense, supporting close to a trillion dollars in new Iraq spending (all while grousing about a few million in 'pork'; well, McCain recently admitted that he didn't understand economics.) McCain recently said that he is willing to stay in Iraq for a hundred years (Yikes!) So it is obvious that on the Iraq war, a McCain administration would be another four years of the Bush administration.

Part of the appeal that John McCain has to independents and moderates is that they don't see him as being as 'bad' as other Republicans.

Well, he is every bit as bad. Maybe he can see the benefits of working with Democrats on a handful of issues that will get him a lot of press, but on the issues that count, he's still just as conservative. And like his 'huggy buddy' McCain gets stuck on an issue, and he is a stubborn jackass who won't change his mind even when everyone can see that he is wrong.

So don't be fooled by John McCain. He's a conservative. He's just a smart enough conservative that he knows how to play the media game and once in a while keep up appearances. But his supporters in Virginia who the other night when he finally won the primary broke into chants of, 'four more years,' know better. They are Bush backers, and this year McCain is their man.


Zach said...

The thing is this: McCain is a lot like Bush. Remember how well Bush did in both of his elections? Well, here's my theory.

Bush got elected because he was conservative enough on some issues to win the Republicans. He was also moderate or liberal enough on some issues (especially immigration) to win indendents and moderate Republicans. He also said immigration and relations with Latin America (especially Mexico) would be a priority.

Then 9/11 happened. His initial reaction, very good. The follow up (read as the way he went about the Iraq War, and his handling of relations with Iran and N. Korea) were terrible. Our President had great ideas and a great plan, but soon revealed himself to be a bumbling idiot surrounded by people way too far to the right to live up to his promises of being moderate.

I think the reason McCain could do well is because he is the president that Bush could have and should have been.

Eli Blake said...

You are right that McCain is a lot like Bush.

Which is what scares the crap out of me.

Four more years like the last eight will irretrievably ruin this country, of that I'm convinced.

Zach said...

The difference though is this:
McCain has proved through his Congressional record that he is willing to work across partisan lines and try to unite the country.

Bush has continually TALKED about doing that, but has yet to show anyone that he actually meant it, except on immigration, which he let get shoved to the back burner after 9/11.

Had 9/11 not happened, or had Bush not let his reaction, including Iraq, completely engulf the last 6 and a half years of his term, I think Bush's legacy would be a lot different (and better) than it is going to be now.

Eli Blake said...

Of course, Zach:

We know from Paul O'Neill that Bush had talked about invading Iraq as something he would do, not might do, well before 9/11.

And McCain backed him every step of the way.