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Assessing McCain:

In two insightful posts, University of San Diego law professor Michael Rappaport argues that John McCain is very bad on a wide range of policy issues and that pro-limited government conservatives might well be better off with a Democratic candidate winning this fall than with a President McCain.

I agree with most of the points Michael makes in his first post. On two of the issues he raises (immigration and torture/interrogation) my position is much closer to McCain's than Michael's is. I also give McCain great credit for opposing Bush's 2003 Medicare prescription drug plan - the biggest of all the Bush Administration's domestic policy boondoggles. He was one of only nine GOP senators to buck the administration on that issue.

I therefore give McCain higher grades on policy than Michael does. Nonetheless, the overall picture Michael paints is far from a positive one. McCain seems less of a big government conservative than Bush has turned out to be. But the difference is more one of degree than kind. On judges, I agree with Michael's suspicions that McCain might appoint moderate to liberal "stealth" nominees to the Supreme Court in order to preserve his beloved McCain-Feingold campaign finance restrictions. I'm not certain about that, but it's a real possibility.

I am much less convinced by Michael's argument that the cause of limited government will be better off in the long run if the Democrats win. Michael argues that, just as Jimmy Carter's failures in office paved the way for Ronald Reagan, the shortcomings of a Hillary Clinton or Obama administration will pave the way for a Reaganite resurgence. By contrast, if McCain wins, the Republicans will end up adopting his pro-government agenda if he is politically successful or will be blamed for his shortcomings if he fails in office.

Maybe Michael is right. But Carter failed to win reelection in large part because he was the victim of circumstances outside his control: a severe recession and the emergence of foreign policy crises in Iran and Afghanistan. Had he been luckier and a more skillful politician, he might not have lost in 1980. In all three cases, Carter probably made a bad situation worse. But his bumbling would have been much less noticeable to the electorate if he had been blessed with better circumstances. By contrast, the next president will probably enjoy a favorable economy two or three years into his term (once the current pseudo-recession ends). And we don't yet know how international events will play out. When you consider that Obama and Hillary are both more skillful politicians than Carter, and that Obama at least is highly charismatic, it's quite possible that a Democratic president will enjoy considerable political success. Unlike Michael, I am not convinced that the Democrats will repeat the political mistakes of Bill Clinton's first two years in office. They (especially Hillary) might well have learned from those errors and be more effective in enacting their agenda this time around.

The Dems might turn out to be a political success even if they adopt policies that cause great longterm harm (as I think is quite likely). The harm may not yet be apparent to voters in 2012 or even 2016. Even when it does become evident, rationally ignorant voters might lack the knowledge necessary to connect it to the big government policies enacted by the Democrats years earlier.

Finally, even aside from McCain's strengths and weaknesses as an individual, there are great benefits to divided government. As I argue here and here, it's one of the best ways of limiting the growth of government power. Since the Democrats are almost certain to retain control of both houses of Congress and Mitt Romney has almost no chance of winning the general election, John McCain may be the only hope for maintaining divided government in 2008.

Maybe Michael is right to suppose that things will go better in the long run if the Democrats win than if McCain becomes president. But I have even more doubts about that scenario than I do about McCain himself. McCain is very far from ideal. But his election might well be a lesser evil than the available alternatives.

UPDATE: I have deliberately avoided discussion of the war in this post. If you support a quick withdrawal from Iraq, Obama is probably your best bet, followed by Hillary Clinton (though neither is likely to withdraw quite as fast as many liberals want). My own view on Iraq is somewhat similar to McCain's, who gets credit in my book for favoring a "surge" long before Bush came around. However, I don't really have anything to say about the issue that hasn't already been said by others with greater expertise.

UPDATE #2: Michael Rappaport responds to this post here. I lack the time to respond in detail and in any event our views are not that far apart. However, I will briefly respond to Michael's claim that the usual benefits of divided government won't happen under McCain because "McCain enjoys his maverick, bipartisan reputation and will only be too happy to sign many of the Democrats' bills." It is true that McCain probably would sign some Democratic bills that Michael and I would both find objectionable. However, he would be unlikely to cave in to the Democrats on a wide range of important issues, including spending and foreign policy. The key comparison is not between divided government and some ideal state, but between divided government with McCain and united government with the Democrats controlling the presidency and both houses of Congress. Given the Democrats' likely agenda, the latter scenario could well lead to a major expansion of government that will be difficult to undo even if the Republicans return to power in 2012 or 2016.

Gordo:
Beware what you wish for Professor Rappaport (and maybe Professor Somin). A Democratic victory in 2008 might just turn out to be a landslide, not possible, I think, if Clinton is the nominee, but definitely possible with Obama. And that could mean a 30-40 year political realignment (as with 1828, 1860, 1896, 1932, or 1980). And that won't do the cause of limited government any good at all.
2.4.2008 10:51pm
NPJacques (mail):
I'm not sure the "divided government" argument works as well for McCain as it would for most Republicans. He doesn't mind having his name on legislation that's more favorable to the Democrats than it is to the Republicans. That suggests he might prove to the Republicans what President Clinton proved to the Democrats: a popular leader of a party whose policy preferences were too often ignored.
2.4.2008 10:53pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
While I disagree with Senator McCain on many issues, vehmently so on some, my major concern about him is his temperment. He is impulsive and does not listen. IMO these temperment issues make him THE scariest of all the major candidates for President.

"Those who would govern others must first govern themselves."

John McCain does not govern himself.

I am a conservative Republican and intend to vote for Hillary Clinton if she and McCain are the nominees. I dislike her character and know her policies are far worse than McCain's, but the prospect of her as President does not terrify me. McCain does.

Character is the most important attribute in a President. IMO John McCain's character flat out disqualifies him from that office.
2.4.2008 11:02pm
Tugh (mail):
Ilya,
What are the Democratic policies that you afraid will "cause great longterm harm"? Do you think Roosevelt's policies caused "great longterm harm"? What about Johnson's policies? What about, yes, Bill Clinton's?
I am seriously interested in your position as a libertarian. To my mind, the least libertarian administration by far is the current one. And its record of claiming virtually unlimited executive powers far exceeds that of any Democratic president.

If either Obama or Clinton win (as I think is likely), the probable consequence would be less executive power, in my view.
2.4.2008 11:11pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I seem to recall McCain also favored a surge of 500,000 troops in Yugoslavia.
2.4.2008 11:16pm
Alec:
Ah, if only Senator Hagel had campaigned, eh? Perhaps my smirk would be disappearing.

McCain is not the safe candidate conservatives seem to be assuming he is. Eight years have passed since his "straight talk" campaign blew up with the right wing surge in the GOP. Just last March McCain struggled to remember what his position on contraception was, in a very ugly interview with the New York Times:

"Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception -- I'm sure I'm opposed to government spending on it, I'm sure I support the president's policies on it."

Uh huh. McCain's image as a straight talker and "maverick" is fabricated. The Dems, Obama or Clinton, will make mince meat of him in 2008. Proponents of judicial abdication appear to believe they can avoid a Democratic win by supporting someone who once had cross-over appeal. The year is 2008, not 2000. Bush's win was razor thin in 2004, given that we were at war. And the young voter turnout, at least if Obama wins, will probably be greater than it was last time around. A McCain victory almost guarantees that there will not be an increased conservative turnout, as in 2004.
The Democratic Party will be in clean up mode (including the courts; one of the reasons I am voting for Obama is because I have absolute faith his nominees will be 180 degrees from the Federalist Society, without even Breyer's more moderate criminal jurisprudence).

So knock yourself out with a McCain vote, but he has already shot himself in the foot more than once.
2.4.2008 11:27pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
The delusional thinking and self-destructive tendencies of some conservatives never ceases to amaze me. They are behaving like Democrats! Let me recap some facts. According to all public opinion polls, McCain is the only Republican candidate with a shot at winning the general election. He rates an 82 out of 100 on the American Conservative Union tally He is the only Republican candidate who appeals to independents and some Democrats. And, two of the most bizarre items on Prof. Rapport's list have to be (1) he is against waterboarding and (2) he is in favor of closing down Guantanamo. Personally, I don't think most of the electorate is going to get stirred up by McCain's opposition to a form of torture that he himself has experienced, or his opposition to the only Soviet style gulag that the US officially operates.
2.4.2008 11:43pm
GV:
I'd be eternally grateful if anyone could point me to any articles, court opinions, etc. that argue that some stripe of Originalism supports striking down campaign finance laws.

. . .

As a liberal, I'm entirely stunned at the number of conservatives who claim they'll vote for Hillary if McCain is the nominee. I don't for a second believe that most of them actually will, but I'm surprised so many will at least currently claim they will. I can't stand Hillary and will not vote for her in the general election because of her vote for the war in Iraq. I'm old fashioned and think that exercising poor judgment (especially when it leads to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people) permanently disqualifies you for a promotion. But despite my strong feelings on that, I wouldn't for a second consider voting for the Republican candidate. I've seen a lot of liberals voice a similar position, and I haven't heard any liberal claim they'd vote for a Republican if Hillary wins the nomination.

It'll be interesting to see a McCain -- Hillary showdown. Activists on both sides will dislike their own candidate. The general public, on the other hand, seems to like McCain and Hillary. The campaign will likely turn ugly quickly. They're both professional politicians who will lie, distort, smear, and do whatever it takes to win the nomination. I suppose people on both sides will try to take the high ground and claim the other side is worse and started it.

It's a shame the election couldn't be a Obama -- Huckabee contest. Setting aside their policies, they both seem like decent, genuine human beings. I guess that's why neither will be running in the general election.
2.4.2008 11:46pm
ProctorOfAdmiralty:
I think this "surge" concept is misleading...in my unofficial research, the surge largely represents the number of troops the generals, some dems, and some republicans, indicated would be necessary at the BEGINNING of the conflict (I refuse to call it a war), and before Bush cut it down despite legitimate protestations of the need for many troops.
PoA
2.4.2008 11:55pm
Ilya Somin:
What are the Democratic policies that you afraid will "cause great longterm harm"? Do you think Roosevelt's policies caused "great longterm harm"? What about Johnson's policies? What about, yes, Bill Clinton's?

On prospective policies, I would list nationalized health care, protectionism, and expansion of regulation in many areas. I would answer "yes" to your questions about FDR and LBJ. Probably a no on Clinton, though he certainly did some things that I disagree with. His most harmful longterm proposal (the health care plan) failed in Congress).
2.4.2008 11:55pm
Ilya Somin:
The delusional thinking and self-destructive tendencies of some conservatives never ceases to amaze me. They are behaving like Democrats! Let me recap some facts. According to all public opinion polls, McCain is the only Republican candidate with a shot at winning the general election.

I don't doubt that McCain is popular (at leeast relative to Romney and the other Republicans). My doubts have to do with his policy preferences.
2.4.2008 11:57pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Ilya, I did not mean to include you among the "delusional" thinkers. I was referring to Professor Rappaport, Ann Coulter, et al. I find it strange, indeed, for any Republican to "wish" that a Democrat wins the general election. It strikes me as a suicidal and naive position to take (I am a Democrat, who is generally liberal on social issues, but a moderate on fiscal issues).
2.5.2008 12:07am
Justin (mail):
Professor Somin,

Good luck with claiming the surge succeeded in March. I just hope this administration is actually planning for the end of the Sadr truce.
2.5.2008 12:11am
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
Michael Rapaport was fantastic in Bamboozled. When did he start teaching law?
2.5.2008 12:14am
Elliot Reed (mail):
Ilya—since when are any of the Democrats supporting a nationalization of health care, or anything remotely resembling one? You might as well say that we've "nationalized" the automobile industry by requiring people to buy auto insurance and imposing related regulations on the auto insurance industry.
2.5.2008 12:29am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
How does one draw the conclusion that Hillary is a better politician than Carter was. Carter ran one successful campaign for President. His policy initiatives were pretty much a disaster. Hillary's one big policy initiative so far -- health care -- was an even worse disaster, and was one of the major causes of the Democrats losing Congress. That's a feat that even Carter didn't manage to pull off.

If she manages to get elected, gets some political capital in the election, and then doesn't completely blow it, then I would probably agree that she is a better pol than Carter was. But now, I think that it is at best undecided.

One other thing -- are the people who say that Romney doesn't stand a chance basing that on general polls, or is it on a state by state basis. Which are the states that Hillary would win against Romney that Bush took in the Bush/Gore election?
2.5.2008 12:30am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Duffy: My belief that McCain is a stronger candidate than Romney is based on how well he does in the big states --California, New York, Florida--against Hillary, in head to head match ups. He wins or is close in each of them.

The Dems didn't lose Congress because of the failure of the health care initiative. Clinton raised taxes (at Greenspan's prompting), which brought about a surplus, but cost the Democrats control of Congress.
2.5.2008 12:38am
Truth Seeker:
As much as I hate McCain, I think he'll appoint better SC justices than any Democrat so I think I'll hold my nose and vote for him. Especially if he picks a good VP like Thompson, he's no spring chicken you know.
2.5.2008 12:57am
Jmaie (mail):
Christopher Cooke - you don't actually believe that our Guantanamo facility is comparable to the Soviet Gulag?
2.5.2008 1:00am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Ilya—since when are any of the Democrats supporting a nationalization of health care, or anything remotely resembling one?
Well, for decades -- but if you're talking about recently, since 1993 or so, when Hillary tried it. And of course Edwards has been running on that platform pretty much since the day after the 2004 elections. And then Hillary and Obama joined him again this time. Some of them favor single payer immediately, while others favor a phased approach. But they all think the government should have control over every aspect of the health care industry.
2.5.2008 1:02am
Thomas_Holsinger:
GV,

Issues and character are not the same. IMO Hillary cares only about power. This means that her potential acts as President can be affected by external factors such as public opinion and results.

John McCain, OTOH, has shown that he is vain, impulsive, prejudiced and ignorant. His judgment sucks. And he persists in wrong decisions,even when they obviously aren't working, because of his vanity. This can get a lot of us killed when he is President.

Character in a President matters a lot. If Hillary Clinton and John McCain are the nominees, I'll vote for Hillary based on character rather than issues.

McCain is that scary.
2.5.2008 1:03am
Kazinski:
Rappaport may have something there. Its a well known strategy in baseball for a Baseball manager, with his 7-8-9 batters leading off an inning, to tell his players to strike out on three pitches as quickly as possible in the hope the other team will won't do anything in their at bat, and then he can get his 1-2-3 hitters up sooner.

Wait you say, any manager that wants to stay employed will take any opportunity he has to score runs, even he has two banjo hitters followed by a pitcher with an .075 batting average? Well goes to show sports analogies don't always translate to politics.

Well just like a baseball manager we should make the best of the opportunity rather than squander it because our clean-up hitter struck out to end the last inning.

There is one major issue coming up early in the next term that it is going to be critical to have a Republican President in office to handle. The Bush tax cuts are expiring in 2010, if Hillary or Obama are in office, they will use the opportunity to stick it to the economy. They'll probably preserve tax cuts for the middle class but they'll jack up taxes for millionaires. In case you are wondering millionaire will be defined as someone who makes 25,000 a year over a 40 year career.

I'm not glossing over McCains weaknesses but he will be the most conservative major party candidate on spending since at least Goldwater. That is at least something. McCain has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 82.3. That isn't great and for the 2006 term it was 65. Hillary has a lifetime rating of 9.2.
2.5.2008 1:12am
eyesay:
maie wrote: "Christopher Cooke - you don't actually believe that our Guantanamo facility is comparable to the Soviet Gulag?"

In the Soviet Union, various offenses, by Soviet citizens, against the state, resulted in reasonably predictable sentences, in cold prisons, with inadequate food, but no actual torture, within Soviet territory, of X number of years for hooliganism or whatever.

In Bush-America, various allegations, about citizens of faraway places, against the U.S., result in indefinite imprisonment, including torture in some cases, without trial, without habeas corpus, in an offshore port occupied by the U.S. military, part of an island nation with which we have no diplomatic relations and which it illegal for American citizens to visit.

Yes, Guantanamo is worse. It is worse because the Soviet Union was a totalitarian dictatorship and the United States is supposed to be a representative democracy. It is worse because in the Gulag, after a prisoner served a 10-year sentence, he was free to go, but in Guantanamo, most of the prisoners have never been convicted and face imprisonment with no end in sight. It is worse because in the Soviet Union, families knew the whereabouts of prisoners, but in Guantanamo, everything is secret, and we even send people in "extraordinary rendition" to third countries for months of torture, again without even trying and convicting first.

An Iraqi general walked into Abu Ghraib, got stuffed head-first into a sleeping bag, and was tortured to death. He was one of hundreds or thousands like that.

No, I don't believe the conduct of the Bush administration is comparable to, say, the Andropov administration, in its treatment of suspected offenders against the state. I believe the Bush adminisistration's conduct in this regard is worse.

I welcome reasoned evidence to disabuse me of this view.
2.5.2008 1:32am
Thomas_Holsinger:
eyesay,

Evidence and judgment are not the same. They are different.

You would get along just fine with a McCain administration.
2.5.2008 1:55am
eyesay:
Thomas_Holsinger,

Huh?
2.5.2008 2:02am
Jmaie (mail):
eyesay - I will not bother, nothing I can say will disabuse you of your view.
2.5.2008 2:12am
jvarisco (www):
Perhaps instead of worrying about which one will be worse you should be supporting the only true conservative left, Mitt Romney.
2.5.2008 2:23am
Abhishek Saha (mail) (www):
Even from a libertarian perspective, I would pick Obama over McCain. In my opinion, the expansion of executive powers under the current administration (likely to continue under Mccain), the war in Iraq (which Mccain wants to coninue for another 100 years) and the clamping down of civil liberties in the name of security and state interest are more damaging to my freedoms than any fallouts of the economic and healthcare policies Obama is likely to follow. Besides he is much more likeable, respectable and respectful of opposing opinions than Mccain is.
2.5.2008 2:24am
Malvolio:
Please tell me that "eyesay" is just a troll. Please tell me no one is really this twisted.

Perhaps 600 people are in Guantanamo. 2,000,000 died in the Gulags.

The prisoners in Guantanamo are illegal combatants -- in earlier conflicts they would have been shot out of hand.

The prisoners in the Gulags were accused of effectively nothing. Some of them might have been prisoners of conscience, that is, they made the mistake of speaking their minds, but the vast majority did not even do that.

The conditions in Guantanamo may not make it a pleasure cruise, but inmates have health care, regular food, books, opportunity for worship, and so forth.

The Gulags were effectively death camps. Although outright execution was usually only used as a penalty for violating camp rules, the cold and the hard conditions made the odds of surviving a 10-year sentence rather low.

And what to make of "eyesay"'s apparent belief that the fact that the Gulags were embedded in the larger evil of the Soviet Union somehow improves the Gulags' moral standing? The kindest thing I can think of to say about that is that it's ridiculous.
2.5.2008 2:37am
K Parker (mail):
GV,

I guess you haven't heard of the First Amendment, then? Of all the different sorts of speech there are, surely speech to and about the government is the most protected by it?
2.5.2008 3:20am
Vermando (mail) (www):
I do wish you had listed more specifically the issues on which McCain is "bad". I had not gotten the memo that fiscal irresponsibility (the Bush tax cuts), torture ("strong interrogation techniques"), and the erosion of Constitutional liberties (Guantanamo, particularly in the form in which the administration first articulated its extraordinary yet eternal wartime powers) were hallmarks of limited government conservatism. With that kind of sticking to our ideals, I can't understand why the movement is in such bad shape...

Likewise, I can't believe that ANWR (symbolic, perhaps, but inconsequential in our total energy policy - we also lose out by not being able to drill off of California's coast, but nobody's making that a defining conservative litmus test) global warming, and the reimportation of drugs (a pretty classic wonk issue, no?) constitute three other defining issues here.

Excluding those, we would be left with campaign finance (on which his position is clear) immigration (on which the author claims to not "believe his recent 'conversion' on the issue...yet we're suppose to believe Romney's conversion on, you know everything?), and then unsubstantiated claims on McCain's 1) favoring business regulation and 2) possibly being weak on judges (again, "despite his claims to the contrary", when we have nothing greater than that for the supposedly 'true conservative' candidate in the race).

Nobody's perfect, but in the scheme of things, if this is the best list of horror that the elites can come up with to scare us into backing Romney, I'm understanding why people remain unconvinced. Reagan raised taxes, broke up AT&T, granted an amnesty, and pursued a moral foreign policy opposed to the short-term, pragmatic needs of the war we were fighting, yet I'd still proudly say he has a strong conservative record - on the balance, I do not see how McCain's is really different. Balance his short list of negatives against his positives - say, a strong record on other conservative issues, including judges, plus foreign policy leadership and a moral fortitude to lead on issues dear to the country - and the fact that his opponent's record - if we're going to go by that and not "believe conversions" - would look better next to Ted Kennedy's and Obama's, and I think we're getting closer to understanding why he has a shot at this thing...
2.5.2008 3:24am
Jagermeister:
At the risk of over simplifying, I think the choice faced by conservative libertarians is the trade-off between Supreme Court nominees and statist policies. If McCain gets elected, he could appoint more conservative justices to the courts (assuming openings occur), but at the cost of almost assuredly pushing more statist policies. If Clinton or Obama is elected, the Republicans in the Congress hopefully put up more of a fight against bad policies (by virtue of not being pressured by McCain to join RINO positions), but at the cost of potentially disastrous court appointments.

Bush (despite being better than the Gorebot or Kerry) has proved a disaster for libertarians (and I'm not referring to hysterical protestations over the Patriot act or "warrantless wiretaps"). Can the limited government wing of the Republican party really survive another 4 or 8 years of a big government president who thinks regulation is the way to solve all the country's ills? Its hardly reassuring that McCain's biggest obstacle to big government is his inability to find the money to pay for it - not any ideological objections to state intrusion.
2.5.2008 3:51am
eyesay:
OK, I admit it: The Soviet Gulag was worse than the U.S.-administered Guantanamo; I would even forcefully defend this point, notwithstanding my earlier remarks.

I made an extreme argument because I am outraged by the lack of due process, the use of torture, Bush administration doubletalk on torture, the U.S. Senate's approval of an attorney general who bullshitted about torture, and the whole machinery that has been created to defeat accountability and preserve this horrible status quo.

My earlier posting began:

maie wrote: "Christopher Cooke - you don't actually believe that our Guantanamo facility is comparable to the Soviet Gulag?"

A more thoughtful response on my part might have continued something like this: "Well, of course the Gulag was one of the more notable inhumanities of the Twentieth Century, for its long duration, for the number of people affected, and for the misery it inflicted on so many people. But, there are ways that our much smaller Guantanamo facility does compare to the Gulag." And then I should have listed the similarities.

But again, I admit without reservation that my earlier posting was over-the-top.

I do believe that with democracy comes responsibility. As Peter, Paul and Mary said in a 1968 song:

It robs us of the honor that our country's known before
When we would not pursue a peace and end an unjust war
We are all responsible for what's done in this war
Democracy means we can decide, that's what our vote is for
2.5.2008 4:12am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Look at the way McCain moves. This man has serious muscular-skeletal problems. Look at the way his wife has to help him raise his hand. He is nearly 72 years old. The presidency is a tough trek even for a young healthy man. A candidate can disguise his infirmities. JFK had multiple health problems, including the very serious Addison's disease. As such he was living on high does of cortisone with the attendant side effects. His back problems were the result of bone decalcification caused by cortisone. JFK was so infirm, and in so much pain he could not reach across a desk for a piece of paper. Yet the candidate was sold as young and energetic. Then there is the question of his mental stability as manifested by his intemperate remarks and anger control problems. He told a group of workers that Americans wouldn't work at agricultural jobs even for $50 dollars per hour. Yes that's per hour. The whole group volunteered immediately to work for $50 an hour and McCain told them they were not serious. This man has nothing but contempt for rank and file voter.
2.5.2008 4:23am
Jagermeister:
In case it wasn't clear in my earlier post, the choice I portray is based on the behavior of the congress under either a McCain presidency, or a Clinton / Obama presidency. A Democrat president is preferable only under the supposition that the Republican minority under a Democrat president would oppose and forestall the most objectionable initiatives, where that same minority would be co-opted and neutered by a McCain presidency into acquiescence with more intrusive legislation.

If I thought that the congress would act the same under either, and the only barrier to continued government growth was the president, then I would obviously have to support McCain as the lesser of the two evils.

I also agree with those who don't see the war in Iraq as a decisive issue, only because I don't believe the Democrat rhetoric about precipitous withdrawal. I agree that neither Clinton nor Obama will risk open surrender and betrayal of our Iraqi allies.

In any case, its a hard choice, and one I haven't made yet.
2.5.2008 4:35am
Vermando (mail) (www):
Like the arguments by the way Jagermeister (not that my opinion matters so much, but I know I always appreciate it when someone points out when I've made a nice point). Not an easy call at all, and it feels crazy to be swinging between candidates who are so different on so much that's so important.
2.5.2008 4:55am
Al Maviva (mail):
Had he [Carter]been luckier and a more skillful politician, he might not have lost in 1980

True, and if a pig had gills and fins, it would be a fish.

On topic, I'm getting tired of hearing that conservatives who would not vote in a general election, or who might pick one of the Democrats over McCain, are variously insane, deranged, petulant, or stupid. A guy who would consider jumping parties for a committee chairmanship simply because he felt he was portrayed badly in primary campaign ads is a little too impetuous for me. He's supposed to be a steadfast man of great character, huh? I don't see a lot of difference between him and Hillary, with the exception that he's willing to sell out his political positions in order to be popular.

Nothing compels me to vote, and nothing compels me to pick the lesser of two evils when the alternative of abstaining presents itself. Based on the lesson learned by Republicans in 2006 (the people seem to want more earmarks and backroom deals, let's give them to 'em) the Republican Party needs to be spanked a bit harder before they deserve our votes.
2.5.2008 7:33am
bla bla (mail):
You guys are ignoring the most important issue: entitlements. The next President and Congress will have to address this crisis, because if they don't the budget will explode, and it is probably the most important domestic problem that we face. It seems fairly obvious to me that if a Democratic President and Democratic Congress are given the opportunity to "fix" this problem, the result would be far worse than if McCain, a proven opponent of wasteful spending, was President.
2.5.2008 8:01am
Temp Guest (mail):
Ilya: You make much of the polls suggesting that Clinton would beat Romney. But how many Americans are aware opf the $31 million bribe that Bill just took from Kazakhstan and the additional (unknown) bribe from a Canadian oilman to undercut US policy in Central Asia and support one of the last commie strongmen in that region? It is not unreasonable to assume that a future Clinton administration is already bought and paid for.

Wherever the Clintons go there are reeking scandals like this. These scandals will surely surface in the coming election. Mitt is squeaky clean and I suspect the poll results will start reversing, as people regain their forgotten knowledge of just how corrupt the Clintons are and actually have to consider the real possibility of four more years of the Bill &Hill show.
2.5.2008 8:12am
Brett Bellmore:

A Democrat president is preferable only under the supposition that the Republican minority under a Democrat president would oppose and forestall the most objectionable initiatives, where that same minority would be co-opted and neutered by a McCain presidency into acquiescence with more intrusive legislation.


Sounds like a pretty good description of the way the Bush years contrast with the Clinton years.
2.5.2008 8:18am
ERH:
The problem with McCain, and in fact the whole republican field save Ron Paul, is Ronald Reagan. Reagan is almost universally seen by Republicans as the model for a successful president and the effect has been to freeze Republican dogma in 1980. If tax cuts were good when the top rate was 70% they must be equally good when the top rate is 35%.

Say what you will about Newt Gingrich (and there's plenty to say) but he was a Republican leader who was not afraid to break from the party orthodoxy.

The only thing that's kept the Republican Party viable has been the incompetence of the Democrats. Until the Republicans get their act together and stop recycling Reagan's platform they're destined to be a party in decline.
2.5.2008 8:18am
MDJD2B (mail):

Perhaps instead of worrying about which one will be worse you should be supporting the only true conservative left, Mitt Romney.

"True" conservative this year, but not last year. Will he be a true conservative next year?
2.5.2008 8:37am
MDJD2B (mail):
Conservatives (and I am one, though not a libertarian conservative) should realize that this is a bad year for conservatives to run. My fear is that the Democrats will have 60 votes in the Senate, and have a filibuster-proof majroity.

Figuring that a Democratic victory is likely, if not probable, conservatives should aim, first and foremost, to avoid a Democrat landslide.

McCain's nomination would attract the most independent votes, and would be more likely to prevent the worst case scenario.
2.5.2008 8:40am
BT:
I will hold my nose and vote for McCain. I didn't like Bush in 04 and voted for him because of the possiblilty of vacancies on the SC and felt he would do a good job there. I think I was right on that one. The same holds true this time around. You can figure anywhere from 1 to 3 vacancies in the next four years and I would rather have McCain picking than Hillary or Obama. And for those who think that President Hillary will role back any executive powers she inherits from Bush, man do you live in an alternative universe.
2.5.2008 9:08am
CharleyCarp (mail):
I would never suggest that Gitmo compares unfavorably to the Soviet system. However, some statements require response:

The prisoners in Guantanamo are illegal combatants -- in earlier conflicts they would have been shot out of hand.

In no earlier conflict would businessmen arrested in Gambia be shot out of hand. Or unarmed people arrested in Pakistan by Pakistani police. Or alleged plotters arrested in Bosnia, and then ordered released by the Bosnian courts because there's no evidence of the plot. Yes, there are some Taliban privates, and some Arab irregulars (of exactly the same type we supported in the war against Russia). But there have been enough stories or error -- like the one in todays NYT about the Afghan who died of cancer in Gitmo -- that it's clear enough that meaningful judicial review is really necessary here. (And the Administration is doing all it can to thwart even the lame review ordered by Congress in the Detainee Treatment Act).

The conditions in Guantanamo may not make it a pleasure cruise, but inmates have health care, regular food, books, opportunity for worship, and so forth.

1. Tell this to the guy who got AIDS -- probably through a botched blood test. Or the guys who get an aspirin for infections, or have untreated Hep. There's a reason the government refuses to turn over medical records to the prisoners' lawyers, and it isn't pride in the quality of care.

2. We're not starving them. A triumph of American values.

3. Unless the books are subversive: like dictionaries, or Dr. Seuss. Or USA Today. Or nearly anything but Harry Potter and Agatha Christie. Can a prisoner take a correspondence course? No. Nearly all of them are going to go home in the next year or two -- 92% of Saudis have gone home already -- and what are we doing to aid in rehabilitation, and reintegration? Precisely nothing.

4. The DC Circuit just rejected a solid claim for interference with religious worship, finding the prisoners aren't 'persons.'

This last is the real problem with the whole policy: so many people are so caught up in the myth of 'would be shot on sight in earlier conflicts' that they've adopted a decidedly Dred Scott view to the whole thing: these people have no rights we are bound to respect. Wrong as a matter of law, and of morality.

(It is a very good screen for the sincerity of libertarians, though.)
2.5.2008 9:11am
hawkins:
So Rappaport carefully thought through each of the issues he mentions and happened to come to his own conclusion that the GOP/conservative position is correct on each one? Highly unlikely. What is likely is that he is a partisan hack who is unable to critically think through issues on his own.

Like Rappaport, I also disagree with McCain on many issues. But the one thing I find refreshing and admirable is that he isnt afraid to anger his party and come to his own conclusions. While I believe Libertarian positions are mostly consistent, I have a deep distrust for any person who supports the conservative or liberal position across the board. They just arent consistent positions.
2.5.2008 9:16am
SeaLawyer:

Perhaps instead of worrying about which one will be worse you should be supporting the only true conservative left, Mitt Romney.


"True" conservative this year, but not last year. Will he be a true conservative next year?


I have always wondered where this "Romney is a conservative" came from.
2.5.2008 9:20am
Virginian:

By contrast, the next president will probably enjoy a favorable economy two or three years into his term (once the current pseudo-recession ends).


I guarantee that the media will declare the economy miraculously improved shortly after either Clinton or Obama enter the white house.
2.5.2008 9:23am
Anderson (mail):
Michael Rapaport was fantastic in Bamboozled.

Still is, evidently.
2.5.2008 9:35am
CharleyCarp (mail):
Two small points to add to my last. In no prior war would a guy be shot out of hand on the accusation that he was conscripted into working in the supply depot for a couple of weeks, escaping at the first opportunity.

On releases: It's a good thing that so many Saudis have gone home -- in contrast fewer than 12% of Yemenis have been sent back. It's not because of any difference in their conduct in Afghanistan, or in Gitmo. You can bang the bars and swear to kill Americans when you get out, and if you're Saudi, you can get sent home. Why? Three powerful little words: Oil, Iraq, Iran. Smart politics, to be sure, but it's also long past time to drop the pretense that there's much of a security thing going on here. The whole operation is a proof of all the truisms of unchecked and unreviewed power.

OK, off the soapbox.
2.5.2008 9:52am
Justin (mail):
BTW, out of curiosity: is any liberterian-conservative poster here going to endorse a Democrat?
2.5.2008 9:55am
theophilus (mail) (www):

Look at the way McCain moves. This man has serious muscular-skeletal problems. Look at the way his wife has to help him raise his hand.


A. Zarkov,

I can't speak to your other charges, but the reason Senator McCain can't raise his arms is due to his torture in Vietnam. He can't raise his arms above his head without assistance. He can't even comb his own hair. This has nothing to do with age.

I don't think surviving torture should bar anyone from the Presidency, do you?
2.5.2008 10:15am
common sense (www):
As far as not voting goes, it just reinforces the status quo. So many people don't vote because they are lazy, and politicians just rationalize that all people who don't vote are lazy, and ignore other reasons. Instead, it might be better to vote for a third party candidate. I do wish there was a none of the above option, to show the displeasure at the current crop. If nothing else, it might encourage others to run in 2012.
2.5.2008 10:34am
Blue:
"Its a well known strategy in baseball for a Baseball manager, with his 7-8-9 batters leading off an inning, to tell his players to strike out on three pitches as quickly as possible in the hope the other team will won't do anything in their at bat, and then he can get his 1-2-3 hitters up sooner."

This is not true. I cannot let it stand without objection!
2.5.2008 10:37am
rarango (mail):
I join theophilus' rejoined to A. Zarkov: Only consitutional requirements for the Presidency are age and nativity IIRC.

Other than that, I suggest this speculation, like all political speculation is fascinating for us political junkies and I include myself. However, I think its a bit premature and I prefer to see who the nominees finally are and what the prospects for congress like--that won't emerge until a bit later.

While I would always prefer an election based on someone I can vote for, there are times when I have to either abstain, vote third party, or vote for the lesser of two undesirable choices. Looks like this election is shaping up to be the last situation. Anyone more conservative than Senators Obama and Clinton, will probably be my criterion.
2.5.2008 10:40am
sbron:
John O'Sullivan on NRO has the most powerful argument against McCain.

<blockquote>
Many conservatives believe that the key question in this election is: Are there to be two multiculturalist open-borders parties or one? If McCain's election were to make the GOP fundamentally similar to the Democrats on immigration, bilingualism, racial preferences, and all the National Question issues, that would be a resounding historical defeat for conservatives.
</blockquote>

McCain has repeatedly made it clear he favors racial preferences. Most writers on this blog seem to oppose same, so why do they support McCain?
2.5.2008 10:40am
Thomas_Holsinger:
eyesay,

You have every right to argue that Jimmy Buffet was the greatest rock singer in history, plus that the BeeGees were the best group, and demand that people here prove otherwise with evidence and reasoned argument. Just expect only a few replies, all of them addressing your judgment in derisory terms, and none on the merits.
2.5.2008 10:47am
Anderson (mail):
Most writers on this blog seem to oppose same, so why do they support McCain?

Because (1) the other Repubs are even less likely to win, and (2) the Dems support racial preferences plus many other repugnant-to-VCers things that McCain does NOT support ... so McCain is the least bad choice.

Really, I don't see what's so hard about this.
2.5.2008 10:50am
Mark Buehner (mail):
What kind of political movement intentionally sits out one election so they can win the next one and fix all the problems created in the interim? How do you sell that as progress? Not to mention there is nothing so immortal as a federal entitlement- how is President Reagan II going to fix that once HRC or Obama imposes it on us? How are they going to fix abandoning Iraq?

If McCain wins, so be it. All true conservatives will support him, if only because everything they suspect McCain of, HRC and Obama proudly embrace. We're at war, this is no time for silly gamesmanship. McCain is a better wartime leader, this isnt the time gambling on political clout 4 years down the road.
2.5.2008 10:54am
sbron:
Anderson,
Then why support McCain's immigration policies also? Current immigration patterns will guarantee preservation and expansion of racial preferences. Chancellor Birgeneau at UC Berkeley said the following in an interview


If you actually look at the data, the voting patterns 10 years ago when 209 was voted on, then 209 actually failed in the Bay Area and Greater LA area, but failed by small amounts, and there were huge majorities the other way outside of those two metropolitan areas. But if 400,000 people out of our population, which is approaching 40 million, 209 would not have passed. And that's actually a pretty small number. Now currently in California there are 4 million unregistered voters in the Chicano-Latino community alone. And so, my view is that a massive voter registration, plus voter education, plus getting out the vote -- all 3 of those are equally important -- that if it's what the people of California want, it is possible to reverse 209.
2.5.2008 10:59am
Thomas_Holsinger:
Mark,

Romney, Hillary and Obama are cautious and prudent. McCain isn't. He's reckless. That is a dreadful trait in a President, especially in wartime.
2.5.2008 11:05am
Anderson (mail):
Anderson,
Then why support McCain's immigration policies also?


Again: Assuming that it's either McCain or the Democratic nominee, then the Democratic nominee is going to have no less liberal immigration values than McCain's (Mickey Kaus notwithstanding).

McCain's "bad" qualities -- such as reservations about torturing human beings -- largely cancel out, in Republican eyes, because they are by definition shared by the Democrats, who are of course Evil Incarnate.

Whereas McCain is likely to have some "good" qualities, such as enthusiasm for an endless occupation in Iraq, which being "good" are not shared by the Dems (see "Evil Incarnate," above).

Thus, McCain is the better choice for a Republican, at least for a Republican who's not a pill-popping mouth-breather like Limbaugh, or a narcissistic sophist like Coulter.

How are they going to fix abandoning Iraq?

I love it. Apparently, the notion that the people to whom Iraq belongs, and who should fix its problems, are "Iraqis," does not seem to be on the table.
2.5.2008 11:09am
Mark Buehner (mail):
Romney, Hillary and Obama are cautious and prudent.


In what regard, and where is the evidence of that? I'll support Romney 100% if he gets the nomination, but the idea that HRC or Obama have proven themselves trustworthy with the keys to the car is far from clear to me.

And again- we are supposing that McCain might do what HRC and Obama are promising to do. We will have some leverage with a Republican president. Once HRC is sworn in with her democratic congress, we might as well all go on vacation for 4 years and be prepared to come back to a drastically different nation.
2.5.2008 11:10am
Anderson (mail):
Romney, Hillary and Obama are cautious and prudent. McCain isn't. He's reckless. That is a dreadful trait in a President, especially in wartime.

Agreed -- given our reckless Cheney, for instance -- but what is the evidence for McCain's recklessness? I am genuinely curious.
2.5.2008 11:10am
Anderson (mail):
Once HRC is sworn in with her democratic congress, we might as well all go on vacation for 4 years and be prepared to come back to a drastically different nation.

That is the idea, yes.
2.5.2008 11:11am
Mark Buehner (mail):

I love it. Apparently, the notion that the people to whom Iraq belongs, and who should fix its problems, are "Iraqis," does not seem to be on the table.


Funny, coming from the 'it takes a village' people. Abandoning Iraq to be torn apart by Al Qaeda and Iran doesnt seem like empowering the Iraqis to me. Note that 'indefinate' is your term. There is a difference between stabilizing Iraq over the next few years and staying forever. Both of which differ significantly from pulling out all our troops within 6 months hell or high water.
2.5.2008 11:13am
RL:
I love this idea that falling into line and listening to shadowy unelected "others" is a sign of character, and therefore McCain is somehow lacking in character. He's got more character and integrity in his pinky finger than the other candidates combined. A true leader. I don't know how he would go on every issue, but I do know that I trust him to do things for the right reasons. That's more than I can say for any other serious presidential contender over the past twenty years.
2.5.2008 11:23am
Mark Field (mail):

I can't speak to your other charges, but the reason Senator McCain can't raise his arms is due to his torture in Vietnam. He can't raise his arms above his head without assistance. He can't even comb his own hair. This has nothing to do with age.


Thank you. I'm not a McCain supporter, but the original comment was absurd. Hell, FDR couldn't walk unaided, but that had nothing to do with his ability to be President.
2.5.2008 11:28am
Mark Field (mail):

Funny, coming from the 'it takes a village' people. Abandoning Iraq to be torn apart by Al Qaeda and Iran doesnt seem like empowering the Iraqis to me.


What's even funnier is that the people who oppose nation-building in the South Bronx support it so enthusiastically in Iraq.
2.5.2008 11:29am
titus32:
but what is the evidence for McCain's recklessness? I am genuinely curious.

I have the same curiousity. Is it just the fact that he has an ornery personality at times? Or this there any evidence that he's made reckless political decisions?
2.5.2008 11:30am
Anderson (mail):
What's even funnier is that the people who oppose nation-building in the South Bronx support it so enthusiastically in Iraq.

Both efforts are hampered by nearly unbridgeable linguistic and cultural differences. Fortunately for the south Bronx, however, there is no oil under their city.
2.5.2008 11:38am
cjwynes (mail):
I'd like to know why it's somehow a forgone conclusion that Romney can't win in November. We're nine months away from the election. Dukakis and Mondale led their opponents in hypothetical matchups early on before suffering massive defeats, so I don't trust the polls this far out. The polls that show McCain winning or Romney losing in hypothetical matchups this far out, with ignorant voters responding largely on name recognition, just doesn't mean anything. If McCain is the nominee, consider that Rush Limbaugh and the conservative media will NOT be out there defending him like they did Bush, so he'll have no help against the Dems' attacks. He'll sink like a stone.

As for the polls that say some large number of people won't vote for a Mormon, consider that it's easier to admit that prejudice to a pollster (as alot of people probably don't know any Mormons, so prejudice against them is more socially acceptable), than it is to admit that you would never vote for a woman (Hillary) or a black (Obama). I suspect the latter prejudices are more pervasive than the polls make them out to be. Though there are undoubtedly some evangelicals who would sit at home on election day if Romney were the nominee, I suspect that many of the millions who are regular talk-radio listeners will sit at home or make a protest vote if McCain is the nominee, myself included. If I could stomach voting for that goofball Badnarik in '04 to protest Bush, I can stomach whatever goofball they put up this year if McCain is the nominee.
2.5.2008 11:44am
MDJD2B (mail):

Fortunately for the south Bronx, however, there is no oil under their city.

Even more fortunately for the South Bronx, there has been a lot of rebuilding.
2.5.2008 11:46am
gab:
Frankly, anyone who thinks we're in a "pseudo-recession" has no grasp of the current economic situation.

When the Fed feels compelled to ease 125 basis points in an 8 day period, unemployment has risen from 4.1 % to 5% in a short period, when banks and brokerages firms write of 10 to 15 billion dollars a quarter with consistency and foreclosures are climbing at an astronomical rate - this is not "pseudo." This is the real deal.
2.5.2008 11:47am
Anderson (mail):
I'd like to know why it's somehow a forgone conclusion that Romney can't win in November.

The base will do anything to stop Teh Hillary or Teh Hussein, I'm sure, but Romney has very little appeal to independents, who seem to believe that he is a pandering phony who tells different constituencies whatever he thinks they want to hear.

McCain by contrast has a mysterious appeal to independents, who fail to notice his consistently conservative voting record, his nasty temper, and his hateful sense of humor.
2.5.2008 11:48am
RL:
As for the polls that say some large number of people won't vote for a Mormon, consider that it's easier to admit that prejudice to a pollster (as alot of people probably don't know any Mormons, so prejudice against them is more socially acceptable), than it is to admit that you would never vote for a woman (Hillary) or a black (Obama). I suspect the latter prejudices are more pervasive than the polls make them out to be.



I definitely agree with this. Heck, New Hampshire exit polls pretty much proved it.
2.5.2008 11:50am
Anderson (mail):
Frankly, anyone who thinks we're in a "pseudo-recession" has no grasp of the current economic situation.

Gab, please cease and desist with your reality-based commenting, whose liberal bias is unacceptable.
2.5.2008 11:50am
MDJD2B (mail):

I'd like to know why it's somehow a forgone conclusion that Romney can't win in November.

A number of politically moderates, especially women, whom I know say they could never pull the lever for him (WWe have voting machines with levers where I live).

The comments I have heard are something like this:

He's creepy-- seems plastic and insincere.

He has a plastic family.

He seems like a plutocrat who doesn't understand and doesn't care about the needs of the middle class.

Basically, they don't trust him, and are convinced at a gut level that he does not have their interests at heart.

Conversely, I have never met anyone who was enthusiastic about him as a person.

Many pepole vote for or against the person, not the position. Romney will do badly there.

If I were pulling the lever on the basis of the candidate's polition papers, I would vote for Romney. I am plannng, however, to vote for McCain because I think he is electable and because I-- well-- don't trust Romney either. It has nothing to do with his membership in the LDS church, which I regard, if anything, as a positive. It's because of what he seems to be as a person.
2.5.2008 11:57am
Mark Buehner (mail):

Frankly, anyone who thinks we're in a "pseudo-recession" has no grasp of the current economic situation.


Anyone who thinks we're in an actual recession has no grasp of the factual definition. 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth. We havent had 1 quarter of negative growth.
2.5.2008 12:03pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I don't think surviving torture should bar anyone from the Presidency, do you?"

Strawman. How McCain's physical infirmities came about is irrelevant.

"Only consitutional (sic) requirements for the Presidency are age and nativity IIRC."

So that means a candidates physical and mental heath don't matter?

"Hell, FDR couldn't walk unaided, but that had nothing to do with his ability to be President."


The appropriate comparison to FDR is 1944 not 1932 when he was 50. In 1944 at age 62 FDR was in poor health, which affected his ability to meet the demands of office. He was on his last legs at Yalta and died shortly after. Had the public known the true state of his health in 1944, they would not have reelected him.

Age matters in a candidate. Look at the force-of-mortality curve for men. You can see that the slope of the curve is pretty steep after 60. The probability dying between age 60 and 65 equals the probability of dying between birth and 60. At age 72 the slope is even steeper. If you think age doesn't matter, then would you be willing to vote for someone at age 95 for president?

Now if McCain is in exceptionally good health that might mitigate his age. But he isn't. If anything he appears worse than average. Why should we gamble?

I assert that McCain is too old to be president, and no one has provided any evidence to the contrary.
2.5.2008 12:17pm
gregh (mail):
"McCain by contrast has a mysterious appeal to independents, who fail to notice his consistently conservative voting record, his nasty temper, and his hateful sense of humor."
Anderson, it's not mysterious. The left-wing press, from the NYT to Rolling Stone, lionize the man in exchange for his willingness to trash the Republican base and to fight for onerous legislation like McCain-Feingold that they support for their own reasons.
Once he get the nomination though, that all goes out the window. Young Independents who get their news from Rolling Stone and the like will be re-introduced to John (Keating 5)McCain as the nasty, corrupt jerk that he is, at which point you can kiss that support goodbye.
2.5.2008 12:23pm
Anderson (mail):
Mr. Buehner, your definition omits to notice that a recession is official only after it's been going on for half a year.

Understandably, the fear is that prompt action is needed to *ward off* a recession. Obviously, Bernanke et al. are worried about *something*.
2.5.2008 12:24pm
CDU (mail) (www):
Strawman. How McCain's physical infirmities came about is irrelevant.
Both your original post and your most recent one imply that McCain's infirmity is age-related when it clearly isn't. That makes the origin quite relevant.
2.5.2008 12:25pm
Gaius Marius:
I don't think I can recall a lousier crop of presidential candidates in the last 100 years of this nation's existence. On the Democrat side, we have Hillary Clinton who has spent the last 35 years kneecapping any woman who dares to shed light on Bill Clinton's escapades. We also have Barack Obama who may sound inspirational but has less leadership experience than a local high school football coach.

On the Republican side, we have Mitt Romney who is the ultimate flip flopper on major policy issues. We have Mike Huckabee who couldn't come up with an original public policy idea on his own and is a complete ignoramus on foreign policy. We also have John McCain, who somehow becomes a military expert and a war hero because he couldn't properly evade a North Vietnamese SAM fired by a peasant. Finally, there is Ron Paul.

Based on the foregoing, if I am an officer in the Chinese Military Intelligence, I am probably preparing a memorandum for my superiors on how the immediate decline of America's political class will likely accelerate the timetable for China's supremacy over the United States in five (5) years instead of fifty (50) years.
2.5.2008 12:31pm
Cornellian (mail):
I assert that McCain is too old to be president, and no one has provided any evidence to the contrary.

McCain's mother is still going strong at 96. That's not proof, but it's certainly evidence.
2.5.2008 12:32pm
cjwynes (mail):
I don't buy into McCain's appeal to moderates as a force that could win in November. I think alot of those moderates will either vote for Hillary as an expression of Girl Power or else vote for the charasmatic Obama. McCain may get some share of them, and that share may even be larger than the share Romney would get, but McCain has zero support from the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Other than a few supposedly libertarian law professors mentioned on this blog, I don't see alot of support for McCain from that constituency either, and if Ron Paul found a way to get on the November ballot as the LP nominee or an independant I suspect his supporters will stick with him.

In other words, McCain might compete for moderates and independants, but that's nothing you can build a victory around if you don't have the base of your party forming the core of your support. Most moderates and independants are what they are precisely because they are politically ignorant and/or because they lack any kind of foundational principles to guide them. They don't firmly commit to anybody or anything, and on election day they could go anywhere. If McCain is counting on them, he will be sorely disappointed come November.
2.5.2008 12:33pm
hawkins:

I don't think I can recall a lousier crop of presidential candidates in the last 100 years of this nation's existence.


I can think of a few, 2004 and 2000 to begin with...
2.5.2008 12:33pm
Gaius Marius:
I have to disagree with Hawkins. Both Al Gore and John Kerry were superior candidates than George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 respectively.
2.5.2008 12:36pm
Kazinski:
For those Romneyites that think he has some core conservative values, check out this video of Romney in a spirited debate with Ted Kennedy. In which Romney fights mightilty to get to the left of Ted Kennedy in every issue. Wait for the part where he repudiates Reagan and Reaganism at the end.

I hadn't seen this video before, but it confirms my reasons for rejecting Romney. It was posted by Co-Conspiritor Zywicki's co-Dartmouth trustee, and Adler's co-Corner blogger Peter Robinson. The six degrees of the Volokh Conspiracy.
2.5.2008 12:38pm
srg:
"Funny, coming from the 'it takes a village' people. Abandoning Iraq to be torn apart by Al Qaeda and Iran doesnt seem like empowering the Iraqis to me."

"What's even funnier is that the people who oppose nation-building in the South Bronx support it so enthusiastically in Iraq."

Mark Field, your comment is frivolous and unworthy of you: there has been a lot of rebuilding in the South Bronx; the issue in Iraq is not nation-building but defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq and preventing chaos and civil war; and in fact there are hawkish Democrats like Joe Lieberman who favor what you call nation-building in both Iraq and the South Bronx.
2.5.2008 12:40pm
hawkins:

I have to disagree with Hawkins. Both Al Gore and John Kerry were superior candidates than George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 respectively.


Huh? The comment was regarding the crop of presidential candidates. I think both the Democratic and Republic candidates are better in 2008 than they were in 2000 and 2004. I prefer nearly all Republican candidates to Bush. I prefer Obama to both Kerry and Gore.
2.5.2008 12:41pm
Gaius Marius:
Christ! So begins the decline and fall of the United States.
2.5.2008 12:43pm
Anderson (mail):
Both Al Gore and John Kerry were superior candidates than George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 respectively.

Does that mean you voted for either or both of Gore and Kerry? I suppose that's a legitimate response to the question, "What Would Marius Do?" but surprising nonetheless.
2.5.2008 12:43pm
CDU (mail) (www):
We also have John McCain, who somehow becomes a military expert and a war hero because he couldn't properly evade a North Vietnamese SAM fired by a peasant.
Gee, don't you think that his Annapolis education and twenty years on the Senate Armed Services Committee could have something to do with his status as a military expert? Or that his status as a war hero could be based on his decision to volunteer for a second combat tour when his first was cut short and his refusal of a North Vietnamese offer to release him ahead of other American POWs?

I have plenty of disagreements with McCain, but let's at least hew to the actual facts when criticizing them man.
2.5.2008 12:51pm
Anderson (mail):
the issue in Iraq is not nation-building but defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq and preventing chaos and civil war

Pooh.

(1) Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a sideshow that will fade when there are no more Americans to blow up.

(2) We are not competent to defeat Iraqi terrorists (al-Qaeda or not), prevent chaos, or stop the ongoing civil war. We don't speak the language, grasp the culture, or have the resources. What we *can* do is continue an inevitably heavy-handed occupation.

(3) The only way that the violence and terror in Iraq will be stopped is by NATION-BUILDING ... i.e., by the Iraqis themselves. That is the only possible way, though I don't think it's likely, because there are few if any "Iraqis," as opposed to Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, etc.

The basic problem is that our stupid President ginned up a war to remove an evil tyrant who was keeping a Sunni minority on top of a Shiite majority, and whose neighbor Iran was a Shiite adversary of the U.S.

Once the Sunni cork was blown off the bottle, there was not much hope for any outcome other than these two: (1) a Sharia-style mullocracy under the Iranian-friendly Shiites, or (2) Saddam 2.0, another Sunni dictator who would reprise Saddam's hostility to Iran and tyranny over the Shiites.

Iraq has no (recent) experience of the rule of law, no stability, none of the things needed to grow a democracy.

So, I don't really expect "nation-building" to work, either; the pooch is screwed, and the only choice that remains to us is to decide how many more Americans are going to die for Bush and Cheney's screw-up.

None of this is really intended to *persuade* anyone here, but to explain how silly the italicized comment at the top appears.
2.5.2008 12:55pm
Oren:
If tax cuts were good when the top rate was 70% they must be equally good when the top rate is 35%.
Ah, the modern GOP understanding of the Laffer curve is an amazing thing. No matter where you are, it's always to the right of the maximum. You'd have some conservative economists telling me that lowering the tax rate from 5% to 0% would also raise revenue.

CDU, don't bother arguing McCain's military tradition - it's like Kerry's - no matter what he did, he won't be good enough for some folks.

Based on the foregoing, if I am an officer in the Chinese Military Intelligence, I am probably preparing a memorandum for my superiors on how the immediate decline of America's political class will likely accelerate the timetable for China's supremacy over the United States in five (5) years instead of fifty (50) years.
Ah, the paranoid mind never sleeps.
2.5.2008 1:02pm
srg:
Anderson,

Obviously you think you have more expertise concerning Iraq than Gen. Petraeus.

I didn't say a word about democracy. There is a possibility that if we stay long enough to help the Iraqi government defeat Al Qaeda and the rest of the insurgency and improve its army and police force, that some sort of federal result is possible in which there is relative stability, and a government not hostile to us and not nearly as brutal as Saddam's.
2.5.2008 1:06pm
Bob Montgomery:
I have a hard time putting much stock into polls asking people about hypothetical matchups of an election that is still 10 months away.

Is there any historical evidence to support giving much weight to these polls?

That said, I like neither McCain nor Romney nor Obama nor Clinton. Are these really the only choices?
2.5.2008 1:08pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Both your original post and your most recent one imply that McCain's infirmity is age-related when it clearly isn't. That makes the origin quite relevant."

How are his infirmities "clearly" not age related? Absent more information like medical records we are left to wonder. Even if all his muscular-skeletal problems are solely the result of his Vietnam War captivity, they could affect the way he ages. If he were 50, I would be much less concerned, but age 72 is another matter. Considering his age, he has to convince us that he is physically and mentally up the job. He hasn't.
2.5.2008 1:08pm
srg:
Oren, the Laffer curve is a truism. If tax rates are either 0 or 100% the government will get no revenue. In between is a bell curve, and the only issue is the shape of the curve. Obviously the government will get more revenue if the highest rate is lowered from 99% to 90%, but will it get more revenue, and will the economy grow faster, if the rate is reduced from 90% to 70% or 70% to 35%, etc.
2.5.2008 1:08pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Just want to say that Anderson is totally ruling the school in this thread.
2.5.2008 1:12pm
Mark Field (mail):

Mark Field, your comment is frivolous and unworthy of you: there has been a lot of rebuilding in the South Bronx; the issue in Iraq is not nation-building but defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq and preventing chaos and civil war; and in fact there are hawkish Democrats like Joe Lieberman who favor what you call nation-building in both Iraq and the South Bronx.


Your response seems inconsistent to me, but perhaps it's just too short. I don't get what Lieberman has to do with this, unless you're claiming that it's ok to support nation building. However, Bush specifically opposed it in the 2000 campaign.

The fact that there IS rebuilding going on in the South Bronx is irrelevant unless you can show that conservatives who opposed "nation building" support the efforts in the South Bronx. BTW, I'm sure the citizens of the South Bronx would be more than happy if $700 billion (and counting) were expended in those efforts.

Your comments about the "real issue" in Iraq seem to me so totally divorced from reality that I don't know where to begin. Al Qaeda in Iraq didn't exist until after we invaded. Chaos and civil war did not exist there until after we invaded.*

But even if we assume that peace and stability are goals of the occupation, they aren't the purpose of the occupation. The purpose, as Bush himself stated expressly, is to create time to build a new Iraqi nation. IOW, nation building.

Nor is Bush alone in stating this. While justifictions for the invasion have proliferated like kudzu, the idea of creating a free and democratic Iraq both as a goal in itself and as a basis for transforming the Middle East has been prominent among many war supporters.

*It should be obvious that this is NOT a defense of Saddam Hussein. Whatever his flaws, though, the nation was under control. Firm control. Stalinist control. That's the very opposite of "chaos and civil war".
2.5.2008 1:13pm
Buckland (mail):

McCain's mother is still going strong at 96. That's not proof, but it's certainly evidence.


The fact that his father died at age 70 is also evidence, but not pointing in the same direction
2.5.2008 1:16pm
srg:
Mark Field,
My point about Lieberman was that there are some politicians who supported both nation-building in Iraq and domestic social spending.
I'm not sure what the difference is between nation-building and securing peace and stability in Iraq, but whatever the difference is, and whatever Bush said we were doing four or five years ago, now we are simply trying to help the Iraqi government prevent the worst from happening, and the fact that those things (Al Qaeda and chaos) did not exist under Saddam is irrelevant to the question of what we should be doing now.
2.5.2008 1:28pm
David M (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/05/2008 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
2.5.2008 1:33pm
Mark Field (mail):

My point about Lieberman was that there are some politicians who supported both nation-building in Iraq and domestic social spending.


Fair enough, but they weren't the target of my original snark.


now we are simply trying to help the Iraqi government prevent the worst from happening


Ah, the quiet tyranny of low expectations.

Be that as it may, my original point still stands: many war supporters advocated grandiose schemes to remake Iraq or even the entire Middle East in ways which they spent their whole lives opposing when it came to government intervention in US problems.
2.5.2008 1:52pm
Kazinski:
Anderson in a nutshell:

The Iraqis are too backward and uncivilized to run their country. They need either a secular dictator or a religious dictatorship imposed on them to keep them happy.
2.5.2008 1:54pm
srg:
Mark Field:

Be that as it may, my original point still stands: many war supporters advocated grandiose schemes to remake Iraq or even the entire Middle East in ways which they spent their whole lives opposing when it came to government intervention in US problems.

And my point still stands: all this is irrelevant in deciding what to do now. I wish Clinton and Obama realized that.
2.5.2008 1:56pm
Truth Seeker:
Both Al Gore and John Kerry were superior candidates than George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 respectively.

About 60 million Americans disagreed with you. But you're welcome to your minority opinion.
2.5.2008 1:59pm
sashal (mail):
Kazinski in a nutshell:
"I love to distort what Anderson said. And I am still sticking with baseless Utopian neoconservative fantasies"
2.5.2008 2:02pm
Mr. Liberal:
Truth Seeker,

Actually, a majority of people voted for Al Gore. So, as far as that goes, that is not the majority opinion.

Also, I think that Kerry would have won, if people realized what a horrible job Bush would do in his second term. People gave him a pass during his first term because of 9/11. Only in retrospect is it obvious that this was a stupid mistake.
2.5.2008 2:03pm
SeaDrive:

His most harmful longterm proposal (the health care plan) failed in Congress)


Are you leading the charge for the repeal of Medicare? If so, are finding it an easy sell?
2.5.2008 2:03pm
Anderson (mail):
Obviously you think you have more expertise concerning Iraq than Gen. Petraeus.

Better, not more.

There is a possibility that if we stay long enough to help the Iraqi government defeat Al Qaeda and the rest of the insurgency and improve its army and police force, that some sort of federal result is possible in which there is relative stability

The problem here, quite seriously, is that it assumes the conclusion. How is Iraq ever going to do those things *without* the stability? The "Iraqi government" is largely a legal fiction masking conflicts between entities that consider the present power arrangements to be purely temporary. You "train the police," and then they join the militias. Etc., etc.

Leaving aside that the occupation denies the gov't the very legitimacy it would need to accomplish its goals. You may have a hard time seeing this, but "tools of the American occupiers" is not a positive credential in most Iraqis' eyes.

The Iraqis are too backward and uncivilized to run their country. They need either a secular dictator or a religious dictatorship imposed on them to keep them happy.

Liberal democracy, my friend, is not a self-evident social arrangement that ordinary people leap to embrace. In modern times, it's arisen only after a certain level of economic and legal development was reached.

I don't consider the Iraqis uncivilized or backward. I doubt very much that a democratic government is high on many Iraqis' list of priorities. They have other fish to fry.

JosephSlater: kind words, thx!

Actually, a majority of people voted for Al Gore

Plurality, not majority. Obviously, the American people are too backward and uncivilized to enjoy the blessings of direct democracy ....
2.5.2008 2:15pm
srg:
Anderson, our country was not based on the idea of direct democracy, and not because the founding fathers thought we were too backward and uncivilized, but rather because they thought that was a dangerous form of government. I'm sure you know this.

I doubt that most Iraqis want us to leave yet. I also doubt that the current government there wants us to leave in order that it can become more "legitimate."
2.5.2008 2:25pm
hattio1:
Gregh says;

The left-wing press, from the NYT to Rolling Stone, lionize the man in exchange for his willingness to trash the Republican base and to fight for onerous legislation like McCain-Feingold that they support for their own reasons.


Yeah, the left-wing press really supported McCain-Feingold so they could take in less advertising revenue. That was a great business decision they made. Geez people, use your brains.
2.5.2008 2:46pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Be that as it may, my original point still stands: many war supporters advocated grandiose schemes to remake Iraq or even the entire Middle East in ways which they spent their whole lives opposing when it came to government intervention in US problems.
Actually, one of the arguments made for less government in U.S. social problems is that the more we did to "help the poor" (which really mostly helped college educated middle class people who worked in the bureaucracies), the worse the problems became.

In any case, it is the libertarian argument that the government has no responsibility to help the poor. Conservatives argue that particular policies can be counterproductive--hence the 1995 revisions to the welfare state which, shock of shocks, actually didn't produce the starvation and disasters that liberals predicted. But the conservative argument isn't that the government should let the poor starve, but that the most effective strategies for helping the poor involving providing educational opportunities and encouraging economic growth---positions anethema to liberals, because it would involve telling teachers' unions that the students matter more than the teachers.
2.5.2008 2:58pm
Anderson (mail):
In all fairness, I think my argument about the Iraqi gov't is prone to a chicken-and-egg criticism: they can't have an army and a police force without stability, and they can't have stability w/out an army and a police force.

Conceivably, both sides of the problem could gradually increase until stability &a working security force were both achieved.

I think that this however goes back to the comments above (srg?) that it's "possible" that a happy ending occurs in Iraq. I don't think it's practical, or even sane, to make our foreign policy decisions on the basis of what's not completely impossible. What's probable is what we need to look for. And there are way too many obstacles to American success in continued occupation for us to spend Other Americans' Lives on a boondoggle with no end in sight.
2.5.2008 3:10pm
Kazinski:
Anderson:

Liberal democracy, my friend, is not a self-evident social arrangement that ordinary people leap to embrace. In modern times, it's arisen only after a certain level of economic and legal development was reached.


I totaly agree. However I seem to recall some small fledgling country that tried an experiment with liberal democracy. An experiment that took hold at first, then a long period of increasingly devisive debate about human rights exacerbated by regional strife disentigrated into a horrific civil war. But still they persevered and kept trying. But it took a lot longer than 4 or 5 years.

But of course there have been lots of similar examples of countries with ethnic and religious strife where any progress at all has taken a lot longer to achieve than in Iraq, such as Spain, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, England, India as just a few examples, and yet I don't think anybody thinks they were or are lost causes. There is nothing unique about Iraq, other than the fact that so many people are desperate to give up with out giving it a fair chance.
2.5.2008 3:10pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Clayton:

Your knee-jerk antipathy (be it conservative or libertarian) to teachers' unions ignores a significant amount of research demonstrating that, after controlling for relevant factors, students do somewhat better (on standardized tests graduation rates and in terms of graduation rates) in schools where the teachers are unionized. See, e.g., Harvard Education Review, (Winter 2000) "Do Teacher Unions Hinder Educational Performance? Lessons Learned from State SAT and ACT Scores." Steelman, Powell, and Carini.

I don't want to hijack this thread, so I'll leave it at that.
2.5.2008 3:11pm
srg:
Anderson, the problem with your argument is that while our continuing to stay in Iraq under Gen. Petraeus is not guaranteed to succeed, and for all I know may have less than a 50/50 chance of succeeding, pulling out a year ago or now or maybe even when Clinton and Obama say they are planning to pull out is very likely to lead to a much worse disaster. At the very least, if we had pulled out before we started dealing with Al Qaeda and practicing counter-insurgency, there would have been a continuation of the horrific violence of 2006, and Al Qaeda would have gained a huge propaganda victory as well.
2.5.2008 3:18pm
Ben P (mail):

I totaly agree. However I seem to recall some small fledgling country that tried an experiment with liberal democracy. An experiment that took hold at first, then a long period of increasingly devisive debate about human rights exacerbated by regional strife disentigrated into a horrific civil war. But still they persevered and kept trying. But it took a lot longer than 4 or 5 years.



and did this hypothetical country accomplish this with the constant presence of a significant number of foreign troops to "help them?"
2.5.2008 3:20pm
Anderson (mail):
I totaly agree. However I seem to recall some small fledgling country that tried an experiment with liberal democracy

Oh please. We had a few hundred years of English progress in rule of law, property rights, and *gradual* democratization to build upon -- we weren't starting from scratch, which makes our actual troubles along the way actual proof of *my* point.

N.b. that universal manhood suffrage didn't exist in England or in America until the 19th century, and it was another 100 years before the other half of the human race could vote.
2.5.2008 3:25pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
Ah, yes, srg, that uncomfortable moment when Right-wing ideologues in this country confront the nasty fact of Iraqi public opinion: "I doubt that most Iraqis want us to leave yet". Unfortunately, every data point out there says that, actually, by a large majority, they do, and they also do not believe that we would respect this wish if they asked.*

More recent data from second half 2007, just before the General testified before Congress, for those interested, courtesy of Professor Mark Lynch**:

"What do Iraqis think about the surge...The BBC/ABC/NHK survey, conducted in all 19 provinces during August [2007], finds that 70% of Iraqis believe that security has deteriorated in the areas covered by the US "surge", and 11% say it has had no effect. Only 11% say that security in the country as a whole has improved in the last six months. And 70% say that the conditions for political dialogue have gotten worse in the last six months. Bottom line: Iraqis overall, and especially Sunnis, are more opposed to the American presence than ever, do not think the surge has accomplished either its military or its political goals, and have dwindling confidence in the US forces.

Has Petraeus's counter-insurgency strategy and the surge won respect for the American presence? No. Only 15% express confidence in US/UK occupation forces, down from 18% in February, with 58% expressing "no confidence at all" - the highest in any of these surveys dating back to 2003. 80% say that the US has done a bad job in Iraq. 79% oppose the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq. 72% say that the presence of US forces is making security worse.

When should US forces leave? 47% say "leave immediately" - by far the highest support for immediate departure on record (it was 35% in February). 34% say stay until security is restored, 10% say stay until the Iraqi government is stronger. Only 2% say "remain longer but leave eventually".

What about the Sunnis, whose Great Awakenings and embrace of the United States has become the centerpiece of the Petraeus strategy and the great hope of KaganWorld? Only 1% of Sunnis say they have confidence in American forces. Only 1% of Sunnis support the American presence in Iraq. Only 1% of Sunnis say that security has improved in Iraq as a whole in the last 6 months. 72% of Sunnis say that the US forces should leave immediately. 95% of Sunnis say that the presence of US troops makes security worse. 93% still see attacks on coalition forces as acceptable.

Other interesting findings:

- You'll recall that the explicit purpose of the surge was to create the conditions for political dialogue. 70% see "conditions for political dialogue" as having gotten worse in the last six months.
- When asked about how things are going in Iraq, 78% say "quite bad"or "very bad", up from 66% in February. Only 22% say "quite good" or "very good". Among Sunnis, home of the great Awakenings, only 2% say that the situation is good, and none say "very good."

* Most recent poll I could find: September 2006 from Washington Post, 71% saying they favored America leaving within year, 77% saying they did not think we would respect the request. If anyone has more recent data points, please provide.
** Professor of Middle Eastern studies at George Washington, formerly of Williams College, blogs at www.abuaardvark.com. He possesses as deep a knowledge of Islamic politics as any commentator in the country. As interesting as it was to read here last week that insightful commentary on Arab politics under Professor Bernstein's post on Israel-Palestine, one or two readers of this blog might find it worthwhile to spend a bit of time every now and again on Professor Lynch's site.
2.5.2008 3:29pm
Anderson (mail):
Srg, the counterargument is that the disaster is a matter of when, not if.

I do see the possibility of arguing that America has to police Iraq for the next 20 to 50 years. I even think one could make a moral argument to that effect (along Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn" maxim).

Politically, however, I think it's ridiculous. We cannot afford the human or political costs of becoming the semi-permanent Crusader Lords of Baghdad.

The least bad choice for the U.S. is, "we won the war, Saddam's gone, y'all work it out," collaborating with Iran to rein in the worst Shiite excesses (such as "genocide").

Of course, prediction is difficult, especially about the future. But I have a really hard time understanding what my fellow Americans are dying for ... to keep Iraqis from killing each other?

I don't think I would want to tell any widows or fatherless kids that's what Daddy died for.
2.5.2008 3:30pm
Mark Field (mail):

I doubt that most Iraqis want us to leave yet.


Then they should stop telling pollsters that they do.


if we had pulled out before we started dealing with Al Qaeda and practicing counter-insurgency, there would have been a continuation of the horrific violence of 2006, and Al Qaeda would have gained a huge propaganda victory as well.


We had plenty of chances to pull out of Iraq before Al Qaeda had any presence in that country (and that's with the charitable assumption that AI in Iraq is = Al Qaeda). For want of a nail....

Al Qaeda has already gained a huge propaganda victory as a direct result of the invasion. They continue to score points every day (that's coming up on 1827 days). How many more such points do you want them to score?


Better, not more.


Based solely on public statements, better analytic skills too.
2.5.2008 3:30pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
One point to respond to Kazinski there: the difference for us between Iraq and the countries you mention is that we're spending a bloody fortune there, in both purely monetary terms and in terms of strategic investment (a.k.a., making Iraq a key issue in this Presidential election instead of addressing, say entitlements).

I'm all for Sri Lankan democracy, but would I spend upwards of a couple hundred billion a year supporting it on less than 50/50 odds? No.

I also do not think that most people on this blog would have either if someone without a cult of personality for those with an "R" after their names had proposed it.
2.5.2008 3:37pm
Kazinski:
Anderson,
Granted we had some real advantages. And it was still hard for us. Mexico is still not a model democracy, Columbia has a 44 year old insurgency. The Philipines has been dealing with a muslim insurgency on and off for over a hundred years. Thailand has both a regional insurgency and just had a coup a few months ago. The problem in Sri Lanka is much more intractable than Iraq's problems.

The point is nobody is suggesting giving up on those countries and imposing a dictatorship, or theocracy because they are unable to govern themselves. There is an unseemly rush to give up on Iraq, not because it doesn't have a chance but because despite all the problems if Iraq ends up with a modicum of stability and prosperity, then some of the credit will accrue to Bush. Better a dark age in Iraq lasting a thousand years than one word of credit to Bush.
2.5.2008 3:38pm
eyesay:
Gaius Marius wrote "We also have Barack Obama who may sound inspirational but has less leadership experience than a local high school football coach.... We also have John McCain, who somehow becomes a military expert and a war hero because he couldn't properly evade a North Vietnamese SAM fired by a peasant."

Barack Obama was president of Harvard Law Review; doesn't that count for as much as a football coach?

Whatever military expertise is attributed to John McCain is attributed because of his years in leadership in the Senate, not because of his misfortunes in Vietnam; it's extremely disingenuous ("blaming the victim") to suggest that he should have been able to evade the missile that shot down his plane. In 2000, they swift-boated war hero John Kerry; are we now going to tell lies about war hero John McCain in 2008? I would hope that this campaign will be about ideas, not about phony allegations about what happened or should have happened to the candidates in Vietnam.
2.5.2008 3:45pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
Kazinski:
Bush can have all the words of credit he wants, and I hope to one day eat chicken wings at the Baghdad Hooters...I just don't want all of my future earnings to be in hoc to the Chinese to pay for these pursuits.

More soberly and seriously, one member of my graduating class from high school has already died in Iraq, and many more are / have been over there. If all we're fighting for are Bush's words of credit and the less than 50/50 odds that within the next century Iraq will become the Sri Lanka of the Middle East, then I'd prefer we chase this goal with something other than my (very honorable and proud to be serving their country) friends' lives.
2.5.2008 3:47pm
Anderson (mail):
Then they should stop telling pollsters that they do.

Tricky Iraqis!

--And what % of those wishing for us to stay are al-Qaeda members? Don't they have phones? "Hey, Ahmed, it's the Associated Press ... do we want the infidels to leave, or to continue being our victims?" ....... ;)

if Iraq ends up with a modicum of stability and prosperity, then some of the credit will accrue to Bush

Were you under the impression that Saddam was immortal?
2.5.2008 3:50pm
Mark Field (mail):

all this is irrelevant in deciding what to do now. I wish Clinton and Obama realized that.


I think it's very relevant. Those who gave spectacularly wrong advice in the past are NOT the ones I'd listen to about going forward. That includes Hillary.
2.5.2008 4:26pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Your knee-jerk antipathy (be it conservative or libertarian) to teachers' unions ignores a significant amount of research demonstrating that, after controlling for relevant factors, students do somewhat better (on standardized tests graduation rates and in terms of graduation rates) in schools where the teachers are unionized.
I'm curious: is this true in inner cities as well, where the schools really don't work? I'm not blaming the labor unions what is wrong there. The problems are a lot more serious. But at least part of what is likely to fix these problems is more educational choices--something that teachers' unions, and their wholly owned subsidiary, the Democratic Party, fight tooth and nail.
2.5.2008 4:37pm
Anderson (mail):
Those who gave spectacularly wrong advice in the past are NOT the ones I'd listen to about going forward. That includes Hillary.

I actually think this gets a bit overplayed. Matt Yglesias for ex thinks that this is the dealbreaker for Hillary, despite the fact that Yglesias ... supported the war. Of course, he has repented now, and thus considers that a candidate can be chastised for having failed to repent.

I think that Hillary was wrong, wrong, wrong to support going to war. However, I think she also learns from her mistakes. YMMV of course.

It would be nice to hear her say "whoops, I blew that one," but unfortunately we live in a political culture where admitting one's own mistakes is a weakness.
2.5.2008 4:59pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Clayton:

I appreciate you noting that unions are not the problem in inner city schools. As to your other point, yes, unions do tend to oppose school voucher programs. I think they do so for very good reasons, including but not limited to (i) they don't improve the quality of education overall; and (ii) they are essentially and inevitably a subsidy for religious schools. While I would guess you disagree on both points, there is significant evidence supporting both.

Again, however, I don't want to hijack this thread into something so completely off topic. So this really will be my last post on this issue.
2.5.2008 5:14pm
Oren:
Oren, the Laffer curve is a truism. If tax rates are either 0 or 100% the government will get no revenue. In between is a bell curve, and the only issue is the shape of the curve. Obviously the government will get more revenue if the highest rate is lowered from 99% to 90%, but will it get more revenue, and will the economy grow faster, if the rate is reduced from 90% to 70% or 70% to 35%, etc.
No, the real issue is the location of the maximum not the shape around it (we agree it rises monotonically from 0 to some maximum then falls monotonically back to 0). I happen to think the maximum lies somewhere in the 45-60% range which makes me think that lowering taxes from 50% to 35% is a bad idea but lowering from 75% to 60% is a good idea. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that the exact position of that maximum is indeed debatable.
2.5.2008 6:30pm
Mr. Liberal:
It is good to see Mr. Somin facing up to reality.

McCain will win the nomination, and he is the best you can do.
2.5.2008 6:39pm
Toby:
McCain will win the nomination and be easily swept by whoever standads against him as the Huckabeeites vote for the economic politics, the middle ground votes for the feel good candidate, whetether female or black, and the conservatives stay home.

If HC wins, it will take almost 5 minutes before she forsakes those still fighting a SE Asian war to commit to a withdrawal in, oohh 2013. If BO, then there will be a quick partial draw-down, followed by a blood bath, followed by a re-deployment until 2013.

Either way, those who are basing their talking points on Iraq will be angry, spitting mad, and inconsequential. Other issues will actually make a difference in *our* future.
2.6.2008 12:41am
dweeb:
The Indians had a strategy for taking down Pony Express riders - take several riders and space them along the route - when one horse started to tire, another rider was just ahead to pick up the chase. The Pony Express rider knew that sooner or later, he had to get off the horse and fight, and the longer he postponed it, the worse his situation got. This election, it's time to get off the horse and fight.

If McCain wins, then in 2016, the GOP leadership will just take it as license to lurch further to the left, and they'll give us a nominee who makes Howard Dean look like Pat Buchanan. The GOP is drunk on expanding government, and small government conservative voters are codependent enablers. It's time for an intervention. It's time to draw the line and give the GOP some tough love. McCain's nomination shows that they've not spent enough time in the wilderness; they need to wander in the desert some more before they're ready for the promised land.
2.7.2008 9:05pm