Reason Writers Around Town: Matt Welch on McCain's Last Best Hope for Victory

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In the final installment of his week-long L.A. Times dust-up with USC law professor Kareem Crayton, Matt Welch argues that it's time for John McCain to bring the maverick out of retirement for one last caper.

Read all about it here. Read the rest of the week's entries here.

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  1. Crayton gets one thing wrong. We haven’t had “fantasy based-budgeting” for eight years, we have had it for over thirty years. Both parties have dug us into a hole so deep that our great grand-children will still be working their way out.

    We should be ashamed of ourselves. Tremendous sacrifices need to be made (much higher taxes on everyone, including YOU, and slashed spending on everything, including YOUR pet projects). Get over it. There is no other choice.

    Anyone under 35 has the right to be pissed as hell. Not only will we almost certainly have the honor of being the first generation of Americans to be poorer than our parents, but in all likelyhood, we will be a LOT poorer than our parents. The first candidate that has the cajones to look the baby boom generation in the eye and confront them over the mess they have made wins my vote.

    McCain has a chance – and Crayton is generally right: That chance is through the cold hard truth that politicians have been dodging for decades.

  2. We haven’t had “fantasy based-budgeting” for eight years, we have had it for over thirty years.

    Ever since Vietnam. I still see people argue the Social Security surplus is something that actually exists somewhere in a vault.

    I don’t see how McCain has any chance. At this point Obama could shoot someone’s little kid in the head and the press would argue he was probably the next Hitler.

  3. McCain needs to jump in a fighter plane and shoot down the cave OBL is hiding in on the Afghan-Paki border…nah, not going to happen. He lost when he accepted Bush’s bailout plan.

  4. McCain has a snowballs chance in hell to win. He has no economic sense. Remember the first debate when Dr.Paul slammed him with economy questions and mccain answered like a senior in high school.

  5. Not only will we almost certainly have the honor of being the first generation of Americans to be poorer than our parents

    Man, I haven’t heard that line since the slacker days of the early 1990’s. Makes we want to get my lumberjack shirt out of the closet and listen to some Mudhoney.

  6. Here a few years ago, after Katrina hit New Orleans, I noticed a curious thing here in south Alabama and down in Florida. Alot more people were staying put during hurricanes. They seemed to be waiting for some of the free money FEMA was handing out. I agree with you that McCain could have used that tactic about the economy with a mavericky delivery. I just don’t know if that would get more votes in the end. The government is in a buying mood and we americans have a lot of bad debt we’ll be happy to sell.
    Nothing says “vote for me” like debt forgiveness and the promise of health wealth and wisdom.
    Them good times? they’re just around the corner.

  7. Remember the first debate when Dr.Paul slammed him with economy questions and mccain answered like a senior in high school.

    Is there a link to the tranascript?

  8. “McCain needs to jump in a fighter plane and shoot down the cave OBL is hiding in on the Afghan-Paki border…nah, not going to happen.”

    Didn’t McCain say in the last debate that he can get bin Laden, knows how to get him and, finally, will get him?

  9. brotherben wrote: ” Alot more people were staying put during hurricanes. They seemed to be waiting for some of the free money FEMA was handing out. ”

    Then they’re just stupid. You get the money whether or not you’re present for the storm.

  10. I miss Ron Paul.

  11. The ten second sound bite version of Matt’s mea culpa for McCain: “I’ve lied like a sumbitch. I’ve embraced socialism and nationalizing our economy. I was wrong. I wish I was Ron Paul so I could approve this message.”

  12. More people stay put during hurricanes because the news is so good at whipping up a frenzy that people start dying on the backed-up freeway heading out of town.

    Way before this, you know, ten years ago, most people didn’t leave.

  13. McCain going laissez faire on the economic troubles just might work.It is so out of character it would come across as sincere.

  14. He’s hopeless. If he goes laissez faire at his point, he just looks more erratic.

    I’m seriously thinking that Obama would probably do better. He’s at least sensible, and he’s got the Achilles Heel that he can’t make himself look too left wing. There’s a slight chance that he might actually listen to some moderately libertarian economists.

    McCain probably would ignore the economists and come up with some half cocked plan that no economist has yet proposed just so he can call himself a “maverick”.

  15. Like things haven’t gotten ugly enough, check this out, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

    McCain was booed by his own supporters Friday when, in an abrupt switch from raising questions about Barack Obama’s character, he described the Democrat as a “decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

    That’s pathetic – he’s not even in control anymore. I’m actually beginning to feel sorry for the guy…

  16. That wasn’t even the worst part of McCain’s day. At one point he had to take the mic away from a woman who stated she was afraid of Obama because “He’s an Arab”. That’s what it has come to: a man that is one of the 2 people on the planet that might become president had a supporter of him standing about 2 ft. away stating that his opponent was a member of an ethnic group to which he clearly is not. It would be as if an Obama supporter asked him about McCain being Korean.

    As for the woman that said the Arab remark, I’m not sure as how to exactly criticize her alarming stupidity. When she said that she heard Obama was an Arab, it leads me to believe that she thinks “Arab” encompasses anything non-white, non-Christian and possibly non-rural. Or it could just mean that she believes anything she hears.

  17. I did feel bad for McCain today after watching that town hall. He’s clearly at a crossroads where he has the choice to sacrifice his campaign or sacrifice his integrity, and either way lose the White House. I have never had more respect for the guy than when he stood up to his own crowd today and told them they’re wrong to believe the things his campaign has been saying, as strange as that may seem. I don’t buy his “maverick” shtick a single bit, but I do think he has a sense of honor and that his campaign is no longer in his control, if it ever has been. I think he sold out to the devil that’s been running the Republican party in exchange for a real shot at the Republican ‘base’, which is showing its true face more and more lately, and the devil hasn’t held up his end of the bargain.

    The real Republicans, if they’re still out there, should be forming a new party and distancing themselves from the imperialists and ignorant bigots that have subverted their values and politics. Or maybe joining a party that already stands for many of the things they do, in fact rather than just in language.

  18. Don’t hold your breath, sonny boy. Under Bush the Republicans have given up any claims to any principles whatsoever. They grabbed the steering wheel and gave it a crank, and by god they aren’t going to turn it back.

    A serious third party run? About as likely as the Libertarian Party winning the White House.

  19. Wow, the far right seems to be getting out of hand now. A pure white trash revolt in the making.

  20. Way before this, you know, ten years ago, most people didn’t leave.

    Yep, and if a Cat 4 or 5 storm hit their barrier island they drowned.

    The problem with Rita was that people who were not in flood prone areas left. The image from Katrina made a lot of people lose their senses.

  21. Obama could be caught on Youtube sodomizing little blond-haired kids from Missisippi while Bin Laden tokes a doobie in the background, and McCain would still lose at this point.

    Too Late, The Zero.

    Providing Bush doesn’t launch a strike on Russia to take us all out with him in January, we can kiss the GOP goodbye forever

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbI5K0AzNHI

  22. When Matt proposes, via McCain “a flat-lined freeze on government spending, not even adjusted for inflation,” what does that mean? Telling everybody in the country “just kidding regarding some of them there Social Security and Medicare benefits you were counting on?” That might ultimately be the right thing to do–for a bi-partisan commission that’s not up for election in the next 20 days. It’s not something anyone would get away with on the campaign trail.

    Matt, and I know you’ll accept this criticism the right way, you would never get elected.

  23. It’s not looking good for the republicans. They’d stand a better chance of winning if McBush and Palin swapped spots on the ticket.

    I had the strangest dream last night…

    It all started rather innocently. A highly confrontational afternoon business meeting with Gov. Palin and her staff ran late and eventually all of our colleagues had to leave. With a hard and fast deadline approaching we found ourselves charged with the task of hammering out the details, alone in the Governor’s mansion.

    I don’t know if it was the deliciously different taste of the homemade Bacon Moose Burgers, the exotically wild atmosphere that prevails when wall hung antlers are illuminated by the sensual flicker of candle light, or the scary yet exciting risk of negotiating one on one with a powerful opponent who could easily field dress me at a moments notice, but one thing led to another, and well, let’s just say it was time to change the sheets anyway.

    The dream both haunts and excites me. I don’t want to vote for her, but yet, I do!

  24. “The real Republicans, if they’re still out there”

    huh?

  25. I may interject at this point and say I think it’s a bad idea to write off all so-called rural right-wingers. A lot of them are basically libertarian at heart. They just happen to believe in God. There’s a difference between being an evangelical Christian as a person, and wanting to inject evangelical Christianity into the government.

    I think many libertarians may be making the same mistake they made with Ron Paul. Everyone laughed at his Gold Standard advocacy, but a lot of that has turned out to be, if not correct, at least prescient. Ron Paul basically saw this financial dcrisis coming way before most of the other libertarian and quasi-libertarians out there. And I say this as someone who thought he was a goof a yeah ago.

    We libertarians tend have a factionalist tendancy which is not helpful for influencing the political spectrum. The Republican right-wingers are a group of people who do share certain values with us, and IMO, would not be that hard to convert if we actually made an effort. We just have to stop treating them like a bunch of “white trash” hicks, the way the liberal-Democrats do. Nobody ever won an argument by calling his opponent an ignorant moron. You change minds by finding common ground and reasoning over differences.

  26. Hazel,

    You may be right. On the other hand, you may misunderstand which side of the fence the morons are on.

    bob,

    You really should make a movie out of that dream of yours.

  27. Ebeneezer: We’ll never find out which side they are on if we write them off and don’t even bother talking to them.

    When you belong to a tiny minority faction, its sort of retarded to indulge in cultural snobbery.

  28. “I’m seriously thinking that Obama would probably do better. He’s at least sensible, and he’s got the Achilles Heel that he can’t make himself look too left wing.”

    Why not? Any center-left Democrats in Congress that doesn’t get with the program gets the Lieberman treatment in 2010: Declared Unperson, Traitor to The Party, and their opponent to the left in the primary gets an avalanche of NGO funneled campaign cash.

    And some help from ACORN so nobody’s pet’s vote is left uncounted.

  29. Hazel, the thing is that respect is a 2 way street. Libertarians (and libertarians) have gotten precious little (if any) of it from Republicans for a LONG time at this point. I suspect Republicans are about to pay for that disrespect with this election.

    And thanks for admitting Ron Paul was right about the economy. We need to hold the media’s collective(ist!) feet to the fire on that one. We told them so, they weren’t listening, it may be an unpopular fact, but it remains A FACT. People who reflexively mocked Ron Paul now need to deal with the fact that they were wrong. The best thing to do is what you did, and admit it honestly. Other paths lead to mockery.

  30. Hazel,

    When you belong to a tiny minority faction, its sort of retarded to indulge in cultural snobbery.

    I wasn’t disagreeing with you in the least. Guess my sarcasm was a little hard to pick up on.

    I’ve thought for a long time that if it weren’t for rural America, libertarian ideals wouldn’t have any real roots left in this country. You sure don’t find it in the big cities. Oddly enough in rural America, it’s the fact that they haven’t spent as much time in our educational system that’s saved them. My opinion.

    JMR is missing the point entirely….but this is standard libertarian fare.

    The sad truth is that libertarians would rather maintain intellectual purity than become relevant and make a difference.

    Then again, I’m a classical liberal and not a libertarian. Not quite the same thing these days.

  31. btw I grew up in rural America, in redneck hill billy country. Don’t anybody try telling me libertarian roots don’t run deep out there. They thump their bibles regularly, but they want the government the hell out of their business as much as anyone around here.

    But then I went and ruined myself, getting a PhD and becoming an atheist and all that. They’re still making fun of me when I go back to visit. “What went wrong with that boy? He seemed nice and normal when he was growin’ up.”

    They finally recon’ed as how it wasn’t my parents’ fault no-how, it was just me.

  32. “[McCain] needs to keep appealing to independents, centrist Democrats and the media”.

    He certainly could use support from independents and centrist Democrats, but only an idiot would expect any more help from the press.

    The press once loved him because he spent his days since the 2000 election cycle pissing off conservatives. This made the press happy. They were glad to see him nominated.

    But, while the press does not mind a Republican being nominated, they can’t stand having one elected. The minute he became the Republican candidate, he lost his pals in the media. They will like him again after he loses, at which time they will promote him to “Elder Statesman” of the Republican party.

    They will quote his sage advice on how the Republicans can win elections by alienating their main base of support, hoping that the party takes the advice and keeps losing forever.

  33. John McCain was NEVER a maverick. Rather he was just a Democrat running as a Republican. ‘Reason’ should have figured that out.

  34. Ebeneezer: Yeah. I can see that. Still, if you made the transition, they probably can too. You just need to walk them through the same path of reasoning.

    Someone like yourself is in the best possible position to change minds, since you understand where they are coming from and can speak their language.

  35. “I may interject at this point and say I think it’s a bad idea to write off all so-called rural right-wingers.”
    Thanks Hazel.

    A lot of us rural conservative do hold views in common with libertarians. We don’t like either major party much and just vote for whoever we think will do less harm. I do vote for candidates of the Libertarian party but I am constantly frustrated by their (largely due to lack of media exposure and a sugar daddy to buy commercials) inability to connect with more people and actually win. I don’t have any solutions for this but no matter how good the idea is, what does it matter if the party can’t win? Some of the smarter heads in libertarians ought to be able to solve this just as left wing radicals managed to become mainstream on colleges, in the media and in the courts.

    We don’t imagine our selves to be particularly smart or knowledgeable but we understand that freedom depends on small government and we know American history. It’s fine if you think we are less intelligent than you, but you are cutting off your nose to spite your face if you disregard us. If you hole up in your ivory towers reading Rand and ignore the fact that a lot of rural/working class/Christian voters (particularly in Appalachia) will vote for you (even if we don’t understand the underlying theory) if you reach them and convince them you are serious about winning an election.

    I’m not crazy about Barr and would love to have Paul on a ticket but he has done a lot to raise the presence of the Libertarian Party, which it desperately needs.

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