Ancient Mavericks of the Future


Michael Crowley's brief travelogue with the McCain campaign reminded me of some of TNR's more starry-eyed McCain coverage of the past. Jonathan Chait, in particular, was given to arguing that McCain's Teddy Roosevelt progressivism would make him a natural Democrat. I poked around for a 2000 piece on that theme and instead found Chait's fingers-crossed essay about McCain running for the Democratic nomination in 2004. Most of it is about domestic policy and electability, but then there's this:

[T]he most prominent feature of Democratic foreign policy since September 11 is that there isn't much of one. Yes, a couple Democrats–mostly old cranks like Robert Byrd and Hollings–have worried about an open-ended conflict; but others–such as Lieberman–have staked out terrain to Bush's right. The general mood among Democrats in Washington is to lay low on foreign affairs and to confront Bush in the domestic arena. Not only does this mean that McCain's hawkishness would pose little barrier to his nomination; it also presents him with an opportunity to determine what kind of Democratic foreign policy will emerge in the wake of the war on terror. And here McCain has a chance to shape the future of American politics–which, like all things historical, can be highly contingent. After all, if Franklin Roosevelt hadn't replaced Henry Wallace with Harry Truman as his vice president, the Democratic Party would not have built its policy of containment in the two decades after World War II. In the post-post Vietnam era now beginning, McCain could redefine the Democratic Party once again as the champion of Wilsonian interventionism.

This now seems unlikely.

Matt Welch's immortal McCain profile is right here.

NEXT: Modern, Marvelous Maine

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  1. I think Reason should link to that months old McCain profile on each and every post that contains the word McCain. That would be cool.

  2. ot, sorry, but i didn’t have a convenient open thread for a heads-up.

    lesson 342 in “why libertarians should love john derbyshire.”

  3. Built to Spill reference in the title? The author of this blog post doesn’t show up (as of right now) but I’m guessing Dave wrote this.

  4. And I was right! What do I win?

  5. Chait’s crazy.

    Democrats were always opposed to the Bush Doctrine and the Iraq War. Think back to the political atmosphere just before the elections in 2002 – even then, 58% of professional, top-tier Democratic career politicians voted against the AUMF.

    Democrats weren’t neutral on the McCain/Bush foreign policy, they were just afraid, for a time, to come out loudly against it. There was never any chance of an Iraq hawk getting the Democratic nomination.

  6. joe-

    John Kerry was an Iraq hawk (at least until 2005), how did he get nominated over Howard Dean if thats true?

    IIRC his argument in the election wasn’t for pulling out of Iraq–or that the war was even wrong. His position was that he would have fought the same war differently from Bush.

  7. Cesar,

    Kerry denounced the war before it even began, and explicity stated that his vote on the AUMF was not a vote for war.

    He won the nomination, mainly, by arguing that the Iraq War was “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.” To my ear, that does in fact sound like he was arguing that the war was wrong.

  8. Jonathan Chait = Moron.

    Seriously, dumbest man in journalism. He had to beat out Bill Kristol to get that.

  9. Joe-

    I forget about that quip by Kerry. Forgive me if I’m still confused on where he stands on some things, you know how figuring out his positions are!

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