Campaigns/Elections

Welch on McCain: "You'll Have Your Faith in the Country Restored…Or Else"

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Our much-missed former associate editor Matt Welch, now with the Los Angeles Times, perspicaciously sizes up everyone's favorite politician–especially given that no one seems to actually care about his political beliefs–Sen. John McCain:

People are forever filling in the blanks [about McCain's politics] with their own political fantasies. Third party candidate! John Kerry running mate! Far-right warmonger! Republican In Name Only! But with the announcement that the popular Arizona senator has formed his presidential exploratory committee, it's time for our long national guessing game to end.

Sifting through McCain's four bestselling books and nearly three decades of work on Capitol Hill, a distinct approach toward governance begins to emerge. And it's one that the electorate ought to be particularly worried about right now. McCain, it turns out, wants to restore your faith in the U.S. government by any means necessary, even if that requires thousands of more military deaths, national service for civilians and federal micromanaging of innumerable private transactions. He'll kick down the doors of boardroom and bedroom, mixing Democrats' nanny-state regulations with the GOP's red-meat paternalism in a dangerous brew of government activism. And he's trying to accomplish this, in part, for reasons of self-realization.

That's the heart of it; read the whole thing, before this whole "McCain for President" thing goes too far.

NEXT: "As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly"

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  1. An excellent expose of John McCain as an authoritarian on several levels. First thing I read in the Times this morning. Good work Matt!

  2. McCain is a Bizarro Dubya.
    The difference between Superman and Bizarro Superman is that Superman was the good guy.
    McCain and Dubya are both Bizarro Bizarro… parasites.

  3. I read an article about McCain a while back that he was far more socially conservative than the Dems that worship him realize.

    I’ve been suspicious of him for a while. I’m surprised that his socially conservative views haven’t raised more issues with liberals…but then he defies the Conservatives openly and critically on issues like Campaign Finance Reform, Torture, the Federal Marriage Ammendment, Guest Worker Programs and Global Warming.

    The Dems gloss over the fact that he supports Intelligent Design, is Pro-Life and is against Gay Marriage.

    Politics is a bitch and McCain has played the game pretty well. The Dems as a whole has moved decidedly rightward from where they were 12 years ago.

    Welch’s article seems to suggest that McCain will prove unpalatable to the Dems…I’m not so sure.

  4. I admit that in 2000 I campaigned for McCain. He was a way-station on my journey from left to libertarian. That may seem like a strange way-station, but I was disenchanted with the Democrats and looking for something different from the typical Republican. McCain, whatever else might be said of him, is hardly an ally of his party’s establishment. He may be an authoritarian who agrees with his party more often than most Democrats realize, but he’s hardly an ally of the party establishment. When I was in my transitional phase, that was good enough.

    Because of this, I still have a soft spot for the man. Yeah, I don’t agree with him on much, but I still have a tiny soft spot for anybody who is on bad terms with his party’s leadership.

    Doesn’t mean I’ll vote for him ever again, but I still have a bit of nostalgia because of my experience campaigning for him.

  5. I can understand that, thoreau…I was a big fan us his myself in my journey from moderate Republican to Independent, for much the same reason as you.

    He’s a very compelling and unique figure. That Bush/Rove was able to trash him so successfully in 2000 is downright remarkable.

    But I doubt that will happen again. He’s riding high on the disatisfaction with the Republican Leadership. I see him leveraging that very heavily in the next couple of years.

  6. Third party candidate! John Kerry running mate! Far-right warmonger! Republican In Name Only!

    The only word in all that that I’m sure fits McCain is “warmonger,” minus the adjective. He’s had a problem with every U.S. military engagement of the past 20 years: every one needed more bombs and more dead bodies.

  7. This was the reason I wound up rooting for Bush Jr. in the presidential primaries in 2000. It’s because once McCain showed up as the major alternative to Bush, I realized McCain was much worse than Bush. He still is.

  8. “The only word in all that that I’m sure fits McCain is “warmonger,” minus the adjective. He’s had a problem with every U.S. military engagement of the past 20 years: every one needed more bombs and more dead bodies.”

    Think that could be personal with him? He spent 5 years in a POW camp and came very close to death- in a war that draged on for almost a decade because we did it half ass.

    He may be (OK-is) wrong on the issues but I respect him as a man. I still hope to god he loses.

  9. i used to like him a lot for some of the reasons people on here have given. i remember even seeing him listed as a “southpark republican” in one article.

  10. He may be (OK-is) wrong on the issues but I respect him as a man. I still hope to god he loses.

    What, so Hillary can win? Or John Kerry? Or Osamabama? I hope they all lose. The only politician I even remotely want to see win is Rudy Giuliani, and I’m sure I’ll find out things about him that make me hate him too.

    I realized McCain was much worse than Bush. He still is.

    PLEASE back up that claim. I really, really want to see your argument.

  11. Giuliani is also an authoritarian, if his tenure as mayor of NYC is any clue. I’ll own that he’s better than the rest of the contenders, but he sucks too.

  12. In Roosevelt’s code, McCain writes approvingly, it was “absolutely required that every loyal citizen take risks for the country’s sake.”

    Service equals citizenship!

    Do you want to know more?

  13. Well, for what it’s worth, and I don’t know how much it’s worth if he wants to make more war in the Mid-east, his record for votes for total spending from the NTU is pretty good:

    http://www.ntu.org/misc_items/rating/VS_2005.pdf

    In fact, he’s voted to spend less money than all but 8 or 10 of the senators:

    http://www.ntu.org/main/page.php?PageID=95

  14. I realized McCain was much worse than Bush. He still is.

    How could that be possible?

  15. “freeeedom isn’t freee…….”

  16. In Roosevelt’s code, McCain writes approvingly, it was “absolutely required that every loyal citizen take risks for the country’s sake.”

    Today I ran with scissors for the glory of our great republic. Hey, I’m doing my part. What did you do? Cross the street without looking in support of the troops? Drink unpasteurized juice in protest of steroid use in baseball?

  17. In Roosevelt’s code, McCain writes approvingly, it was “absolutely required that every loyal citizen take risks for the country’s sake.”

    Come to think of it, I’m going to go up to somebody on a motorcycle who’s wearing a helmet and yell “Hey! Take that helmet off! Don’t you know there’s a war on?!”

  18. Can we all say, “MERCURIAL.” McCain’s mercurial temperament may suit the Senate, but it’s just as noxious as Bush’s, even if it’s less ideological. (Sorry, Bush does not have ideas.) But you get my drift?

  19. What’s the point of calling Obama “Osamabama”? It’s ridiculous and meaningless.

    The people in Chicago who call him “O’bama” and portray him as a tool of the Machine have much more of a point, and are wittier.

  20. Isn’t “National Greatness Conservatism” – the usual phrase chosen to encapsulate McCain’s positions – really just a polite way of saying “Fascism”?

  21. Steven Crane,

    Or Omama, ? la the beginning of the Styx song “Renegade”.

  22. Peachy, that was the first word that came to mind for me, too.

  23. We can all agree that the contenders for the next presidency will all suck, allbeit in different ways from one another. So we might as well give the throne to a woman or minority candidate just to experience something different this time around. Condi with Arnold as her running mate anyone??

  24. Nah…I want no vestiges of the current gang of idiots. Libby Dole is far too insane…how about Mary Bono?

  25. Of the potential candidates out there, who has a better record of fiscal responsibility than McCain? Anyone? Anyone?

  26. Service equals citizenship!

    Do you want to know more?

    Akira, hehe. Although you’d never get it from the Verhoeven bastardization (as entertaining as it was), at least in the book Heinlein was adamantly and vocally opposed to any sort of mandatory service. In fact, the underpinning of his fictional society was true volunteerism.

    McCain on the other hand would like you to volunteer, but if you decline you will be enslaved in the civil service for a period to be determined.

    I do have to hand it to him, however, for being one of the great politicians of all time. The way he manages to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes is truly a marvel.

  27. Matt, very good critique of Sen. McCain.

    “The way he manages to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes is truly a marvel.”

    IMHO, this is because of the MSM’s propensity to adopt a storyline and then to stick to it come hell or high water. McCain has been branded a “maverick” politician – all further commentary will adopt this theme.

  28. “`I realized McCain was much worse than Bush. He still is.’ How could that be possible?”

    What, the links provided here weren’t enough to see that? Or read the Reason article from back then.

    Bush only signed campaign finance restrictions into law. McCain sponsored them and would’ve twisted arms to get them. Look at McCain’s anti-tobacco stance. Or his positions on recreational drug laws (as laid out in radio interviews), without even the saving grace of having been a user like Bush. McCain is a true believer in authoritarianism, while Bush just goes along.

    How can any of you think he would not be much worse than Bush Jr.? Show me your evidence.

  29. McCain/Lieberman ’08!

    *shudder*

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