John McCain

The Nominee

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Three interesting bits from GOP nominee John McCain's speech tonight:

1) No really, I'm not a Calvinist.

I have never believed I was destined be President. I don't believe anyone is pre-destined to lead America. But I do believe we are born with responsibilities to the country that has protected our God-given rights, and the opportunities they afford us. I did not grow up with the expectation that my country owed me more than the rights owed every American. On the contrary, I owe my country every opportunity I have ever had. I owe her the meaning that service to America has given my life, and the sense that I am part of something greater than myself, part of a kinship of ideals that have always represented the last, best hope of mankind.

I talk about this in my book, and maybe it's most convincing there (if at all), but do me a favor for the next eight months: when McCain says a variation on "I have never"—especially when it's volunteered, as opposed to being hissed as a defensive response to an inquiry—take special note of what comes after, because it's usually a decent insight into what he actually is. There is plenty of evidence (a scrap presented here) that McCain does feel his coronation is a matter of destiny, and that furthermore he will wrap his sense of entitlement in the pillow-soft robes of sacrificing to "something greater than" himself. Your task, whether you choose to accept it, is to decide whether his definition of that "something" jibes with your own, and whether you want as president someone who holds the essentially militaristic conception of citizenship that flows from the source of shared sacrifice in a common war.

2) The decision to go to war is even more passe than heroin.

America is at war in two countries, and involved in a long and difficult fight with violent extremists who despise us, our values and modernity itself. It is of little use to Americans for their candidates to avoid the many complex challenges of these struggles by re-litigating decisions of the past. I will defend the decision to destroy Saddam Hussein's regime as I criticized the failed tactics that were employed for too long to establish the conditions that will allow us to leave that country with our country's interests secure and our honor intact. But Americans know that the next President doesn't get to re-make that decision. We are in Iraq and our most vital security interests are clearly involved there. The next President must explain how he or she intends to bring that war to the swiftest possible conclusion without exacerbating a sectarian conflict that could quickly descend into genocide; destabilizing the entire Middle East; enabling our adversaries in the region to extend their influence and undermine our security there; and emboldening terrorists to attack us elsewhere with weapons we dare not allow them to possess.

Italics mine, because that's a whale of a sentence, and also because John Sidney McCain III does not so much as acknowledge the relationship between deciding to go to war and having to cope with war's shitty consequences. In fact, the whole question of whether going into controversial wars in the first place is appropriate or not doesn't seem to interest him at all. As I've said before, it's heartening to have a stark choice in this election on this crucial question.

3) The free-trading, pro-globalist candidate in this campaign is not Barack Hussein Obama.

I will leave it to my opponent to argue that we should abrogate trade treaties, and pretend the global economy will go away and Americans can secure our future by trading and investing only among ourselves. We will campaign in favor of seizing the opportunities presented by the growth of free markets throughout the world

Since around South Carolina, John McCain—always a free trader—has articulated a concrete vision of why Americans, left to themselves, will provide a prosperous and interesting future. He has hit those notes harder in the last month than he has in the last 10 years. (For a great breakdown of McCain's economics schizophrenia, check out Andrew Ferguson's terrific recent piece in the Weekly Standard.) Regardless of how candidates get there, their platform once a nomination is secure does have pretty strong relevance to a potential presidency. With the competitive Democrats lurching noticeably to the economic left, McCain is becoming more of a free-market Republican (at least on non-regulatory issues) than he has been throughout the course of his political career. We are living in interesting times.

NEXT: The Mini Tuesday Primary Thread: Paul Triumphs, Clinton Endures, Mike Huckabee Splatters Against the Wall

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  1. Maybe MattW should spend less time with cosmotarians, and then he might realize that, while Ms. Obama might not be technically CFR, Mr. Obama has signalled that he’s quite the globalist. He just wants to leftify it a bit, maybe bring in some of his friends and some citizen useful idiots.

    Speaking in code recently, he came out in support of Bush’s SPP (spp.gov), aka “NAFTA on steroids”. For more on the SPP and other examples of lying politicians, I can’t recommend this video highly enough, and it’s not even one of mine.

    As for those non-cosmos who’d like to do a public service:

    1. Print out this question.

    2. Go to a McCain appearance and read it while someone videotapes the question and response.

    3. Upload it to Youtube and, as long as you get a good response, prepare to be famous and to have done a public service, more than almost any MSM can say.

  2. The decision to go to war is even more passe than heroin.

    Passe ? Heroin is always in style. If it is clean, known dosage powder it beats the shit out of those acetaminophen stepped on tabs of oxy Cindy McCain was so fond of……

  3. …should spend less time with cosmotarians…

    Dude, that IS NOT your word. It is Reg US Pat Off and you can’t use it without paying royalties, so, back off Junior.

  4. Matt is still on Californicate time.

  5. I’m wondering which banner-ad advertiser thought that people who read Reason magazine would be the target audience for Fall Out Boy-inspired fashions.

  6. Love the Dandy Warhols Reference, Matt. So Cosmo.

  7. I don’t see how having a big debate between the candidates about whether the war was a good idea or not is anything but a waste of time. Even if you think it was a complete disaster, crying over spilt milk is not gonna solve anything, and will actually keep us from discussing where to go from this point.

    Or maybe we could have theme nights for debates. One night the candidates can pretend it’s 2002 and debate whether or not we should invade while we play “Get The Party Started” and “Complicated” in the background. Another night, we can argue on whether or not we should pass NAFTA while listening to Ace Of Base and Boyz II Men. Could be fun.

  8. Oh Eric Dondero, I crys for joo!

    I wonder how he spent this evening. Sitting alone in his studio apartment? Wearing a pair of stained boxers and a wifebeater? Eating a can of beanie weenies….

  9. Your task….is to decide whether…..you want as president someone who holds….

    What? A headfull of shitty ideas? Show me a candidate (who’s got a snow ball’s chance of winning) that has anything else to offer.

    There really is more to life than Iraq. Iraq, we can eventually pay for and get over. But fully socialized medicine? This we will never “get over” because nobody is going to undo it, once they’ve done it.

    Right now bio-medical technology is a big part of our high tech economy. Finish socializing medicine, and all that’s going to dry up and go away. Ron’s talk about playing tennis when we’re 150 will be reduced to so much incoherent babble.

    btw, fascist medicine, socialist medicine, I’m not particular, the end result is the same.

    Ditto for the carbon tax to save Gaia. Once implemented it becomes a permanent, perpetual boat anchor around our collective economic neck.

    Flame me as a “neocon”, or whatever you can think of that sounds worse. But methinks people are making a way bigger deal out of Iraq than it deserves, relatively. Sure it’s a cluster f***, and we’ll probably leave some troops over there forever. Just like Korea.

    At least McCain is being honest about it.

    Our current picks for president are talking about lots of things that are going to last much longer, and have potentially far greater impact on our long term economic prospects, than Iraq.

    We are living in interesting times.

    Fortunately you were being sarcastic when you wrote that.

  10. Larry,

    I don’t see how having a big debate between the candidates about whether the war was a good idea or not is anything but a waste of time. Even if you think it was a complete disaster, crying over spilt milk is not gonna solve anything, and will actually keep us from discussing where to go from this point.

    I’ll drink to that.

  11. McCain was right about the war: the decision to stay is of a COMPLETELY different debate of whether America should have gone into Iraq. Unless Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton have a time machine to bring us back to 2003 to remake decisions, it is quite pointless re-debating the Iraq war again.

    Instead, withdrawing from Iraq prematurely would almost certainly guarantee civil war, even genocide, occurring there. Having another Yugoslavia the size of California in the world’s most volatile region doesn’t exactly sound particularly smart.

    Shame the war was fought, but seeing that it is fought and Saddam Hussein dead, withdrawing early just because the war was fought on wrong premises hardly seem defensible by any stretch of the imagination.

  12. i am a single-issue voter: gridlock.

    mccain now has my vote.

  13. We will campaign in favor of seizing the opportunities presented by the growth of free markets throughout the world

    ^^Lip service

  14. How many times did Caesar “refuse” the position of dictator?

  15. I will have to give McCain kudos for moving away from the protectionist mentality, although I wish politicians and even folks on this site would realize that NAFTA, CAFTA, and the WTO are not representative of true free trade. He’s also the least fiscally responsible candidate left on the stage. Still his mentality on war scares the crap out of me. Third party vote again it seems.

  16. That should read ‘MOST fiscally responsible’

  17. Rajan

    Instead, withdrawing from Iraq prematurely would almost certainly guarantee civil war, even genocide, occurring there.

    You might have a point there if you can prove to me that there is a time to withdraw that wont almost certainly lead to civil war, even genocide.

    My thought is:
    Leave now -> civil war
    Leave 1 yr from now -> civil war
    Leave 20 yrs from now -> civil war
    Leave 100 yrs from now -> civil war

    Yugoslavia was at relative internal peace until the first opportunity came about. Tito prevented civil war, but as soon as he was gone….

    The US military is playing the role of Tito in Iraq.

  18. robc,

    Leave 20 yrs from now -> civil war
    Leave 100 yrs from now -> civil war

    We’ll run out of money before we make it that far. Even if we want to stay, we’ll be out before then. Its academic to think that we’ll be able to stay in Iraq through our own oncoming depression.

  19. LIT,

    We are still in Korea. We are still in Japan. We are still in Germany. Heck, we are still in Cuba and that has been more than 100 years now.

  20. The US military is playing the role of Tito S Hussein in Iraq.

  21. establish the conditions that will allow us to leave that country with our country’s interests secure and our honor intact.

    This is a set of circumstances which I honestly find inconceivable.

  22. We are still in Korea. We are still in Japan. We are still in Germany. Heck, we are still in Cuba and that has been more than 100 years now.

    Yeah, and we’re NOT in China, most of Central and South America, Burma, Mexico, North Africa and assorted other places US troops have found their way to over the past 100 years. What’s your point?

    We’re in Germany, Japan, et. al. for reasons very different from why we might stay in Iraq. And its a lot cheaper to hang out in a peaceful garrison in a friendly country than in a war zone.

  23. “establish the conditions that will allow us to leave that country with our country’s interests secure and our honor intact.”

    Those words can mean just about anything. They may mean that McCain can simply hang around for a year or two, say things look good, and we can leave with honor. Sometimes only a war monger has the cover necessary to cut and run.

  24. This whole debate is academic. They can say they’ll do whatever they want to say they’ll do. Once they’re elected, they’ll do whatever they feel like doing.

    The problem with “democracy” is that there is no feedback loop to hold candidates accountable.

    Unless you want to do it the old fashioned way like Athens. Then we can hang whoever pisses off 51% of the people for so much as the length of time required to count up the votes.

    We’ve gotten some monstrous results doing it our way. But Athens got some monstrous results doing it their way too.

  25. The problem with “democracy” is that there is no feedback loop to hold candidates accountable.

    Well, except the next election.

    And, of course, since we technically live in a Republic, there are always the other two branches of goverment.

  26. Yeah. But look at GWB and his humble foreign policy from the 2000 election.

    The next election cycle won’t fix a problem like Iraq.

    There is no substitute for high quality leaders, and no system you can devise that will completely eliminate the problems caused by lousy leaders.

    Unfortunately we have lost the ability to put high caliber people in the right places.

  27. He sounds just like the political leaders in “Starship Troopers.” And seriously, who else would you want to have in charge when the bugs drop an asteroid on Buenos Aires?

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