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« Talks and al-Qaeda | Main | Iraq commentaries »

March 16, 2008

Comments

Ben Sixsmith

"But he believes absolutely in the urgent need for the West to reclaim the moral high ground - no more Guantanamos, no more water-boarding"

This is compromised by the fact that John McCain voted against a bill that would outlaw waterboarding (or 'alternative interrogation techniques' as Bush likes to put it). If that was merely an attempt to win the favour of the President then McCain should have realised that only 17% of the population want a leader who takes an approach similar to that of Bush.

David

I have to disagree with you, Oliver, when you say that McCain is "not a conservative." He's definitely a conservative, just not a bigot (usually the two are interchangeable in American politics); McCain is to the right on every issue you cite: immigration, environment, science (he recently promoted the teaching of creation alongside evolution in Arizona schools), and same-sex rights. He also leans to the right on taxation, direct corporate intervention in legislation, and the place of religion in public life. Moreover on each of these issues McCain has compromised or entirely sold out his "maverick" positions in order to attain the nomination, and it is unlikely that once in office he would be able to renege on the promises he has made to far-right groups during the campaign, and definitely not if he wanted to seek a second term. Certainly he is not a far-right figure, but considering that even the Democrats are closer to the British Conservative party than to Labor, that makes McCain rather further right than you suggest. McCain may well be correct (or more correct) than Clinton or Obama on Iraq, but he would be a disaster for America's domestic politics, which might well be more important in the long term for the fight against terrorism and al-Qaeda.

Matthew

John McCain is an admirable man, but I think as David says to say he is not a conservative is a little bizarre. In an interview with Andrew Marr he even said he was a Conservative (although without seeing it, I think the transcript is probably misleading and he was saying he was a conservative, but it can be read either way - but both suggest he is a conservative)

"Actually I am a Conservative. I am a Conservative. If you look at national security or you look at any other issues, I am a Conservative. Do I believe that we need to address climate change? I don't think that's a liberal position. I know that the Conservative Party here places that as a very high priority."

Snorri Godhi

Whether McCain is "conservative" or not, has more to do with labeling than with real issues. But I am intrigued by David's comment that the Democrats are closer to the British Conservatives than to British Labor: that suggests a similarity between Jeremiah Wright and Rowan Williams. I am not sure which of the two should be more offended.

Jason

"I have to disagree with you, Oliver, when you say that McCain is "not a conservative." He's definitely a conservative, just not a bigot (usually the two are interchangeable in American politics)"

Right, that's why Bush has the most diverse cabinet in history. Tell me David, how many minorities were under the employ of Bill Clinton?

Anyway, now that Obama has lost any hope of winning the general election, I think it's safe to say that McCain is a shoe-in.

Roland Dodds

A nice piece Oliver, and a few months back I wrote one why left leaning folks should support John McCain.

As far as the war on terrorism and the fight against theocrats is concerned, he is the best candidate running.

SteveF

Whilst McCain does have many admirable values, he does occasionally let himself down. On the science front, he recently revealed himself to have been taken in by hysterical anti-vaccine propaganda:

At a town hall meeting Friday in Texas, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., declared that "there’s strong evidence" that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was once in many childhood vaccines, is responsible for the increased diagnoses of autism in the U.S. -- a position in stark contrast with the view of the medical establishment.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/02/john-mccain-ent.html

In addition he has potentially shaky credentials of creationism (albeit not in the Huckabee league):

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/02/12/mccain-creationism/

PJD

Jason: "Right, that's why Bush has the most diverse cabinet in history. Tell me David, how many minorities were under the employ of Bill Clinton?"

Well I can answer that. The following were cabinet members under Clinton.

African Americans:

Mike Espy
Ron Brown
Alexis Herman
Hazel R. O'Leary
Rodney E. Slater
Jesse Brown
Togo D. West

Japanese Americans:

Norman Mineta

Hispanic:

Federico Peña
Henry Cisneros
Bill Richardson

Women:

Madeleine Albright
Janet Reno
Alexis Herman
Donna Shalala
Hazel R. O'Leary

It is also worth pointing out that the number of black Republican members of Congress is currently zero.

John Costello

As an American I find the informed opinions of Brits and Euros about American politics... interesting, to lapse into feigned politeness. I would recommend checking out the blogs of American conservative writers (Michelle Malkin, Anne Coulter)or 9/11 Liberal democrats such as Instapundit.com's Reynolds to see just what 'conservative' to non-socialist Americans generally think of McCain. McCain supported 'immigration reform,' that is an amnesty for illegals which was finally rejected because of massive popular opposition. In the end voters will decide for a mix of reasons. Some will vote entirely on national security views. Others will ask: "Does he support the second amendment?" In the end I suspect most will vote for him because of the nightmare of four more years of Bill and Miss Hillary in the White House, Barak Obama's racist pastor, or Al Gore if the Denver convention turns into a civil war.

While various _liberal_ commentators have suggested a McCain/Lieberman run, I am pretty certain that Lieberman has too much sense. In all of his domestic policy views Joseph Lieberman is a very liberal democrat and he while some conservative segments might not vote against McCain because of it, they might (as happened in the 2006 off year elections because of Denny Hastert and the rather corrupt republican congress) stay home.

Jason

Nice wikipedia skills PJD. Unfortunately, you only make my point by naming a bunch of low-level functionaries. As noted by Terry Neil: "Where Bush exceeds Clinton is in appointing [minorities] to the more prestigious Cabinet positions." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22082-2004Dec23.html)

Also, why on earth do you consider women minorities?

Regardless, what I was taking issue with was David's myopic assertion that conservative and bigot "are interchangeable in American politics." This is one of the more outlandish things I've read in recent memory...and I grade papers from Freshmen. Also, David's assertion that McCain is "to the right" on immigration is laughable. McCain is one of the most outspoken Republicans in favor of amnesty and it is largely this stand that has earned him the ire of other conservatives.

Merseymike

Of course he's a conservative.

So are many who still kid themselves that they can support McCain and remain on the left....

Roland Dodds

“So are many who still kid themselves that they can support McCain and remain on the left....”

So speaks the gatekeeper! Let it be written, let it be done.

PJD

"Nice wikipedia skills PJD. Unfortunately, you only make my point by naming a bunch of low-level functionaries. As noted by Terry Neil: "Where Bush exceeds Clinton is in appointing [minorities] to the more prestigious Cabinet positions." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22082-2004Dec23.html)

Also, why on earth do you consider women minorities?"

Yes I did my research on wikipedia, but they were all cabinet members, hardly "low-level functionaries". Not I don't consider women to be minorities, I was addressing the diversity part of what you had written.

Yes Bush had appointed Powell and Rice to be Secretary of State and Gonzales (now resigned) to be AG, but you said "Tell me David, how many minorities were under the employ of Bill Clinton?" and I answered that by looking at all the cabinet members and found there was quite a lot in fact.

Why don't you think there are any black Republican members of Congress? I think this was actually my most important point as they are elected and not nominated.

True not all Republican's are bigots but the party has a long way to go to match the Democrats in diversity.

Jason

Well I am represented in my State legislature by a black female Republican...but I will admit that this is an anomaly.

As far as the national level goes, the reason is obviously that African-Americans overwhelmingly vote democratic, and thus black Republican canidates are rarely elected in districts where there is a significant black population. What is puzzling to me is that you somehow interpret this situation as to reflect Republican bigotry.

PJD

Well there is nothing stopping Republicans having black candidates in mainly white districts. JC Watts was elected in Oklahoma for example.

I am interpreting the situation that Republicans are having serious problems reaching out to African-Americans.

If you really wanted me to I could cite many examples of Republican bigotry.

Jason

Well canidates that run for office in a particular district tend to live in that district. It's usuaIly a law...

But since you want to change the subject, I could cite you examples of Democratic bigotry too. Denis Kucinich and Robert Bird come immediately to mind.

PJD

There must be plenty of mainly white districts that a black Republican could be a candidate like JC Watts did.

I think you mean Robert Byrd! Not sure how I was supposed to have changed the subject though.

anthony

Whilst McCain does have many admirable values, he does occasionally let himself down. On the science front, he recently revealed himself to have been taken in by hysterical anti-vaccine propaganda.

While this is sadly true, it is not a marker of being a conservative or a right wing anti-scientific lunatic, since Ken Livingstone has also expressed dodgy opinions on MMR vaccine:

http://www.blacktriangle.org/blog/?p=1206

http://www.blacktriangle.org/blog/?p=384

SteveF

Anthony,

It is indeed a sad fact that people of all political stripes are being taken in by anti-vaccine myths. Some of the biggest proponents of links between vaccines and ill health are left wingers. Here's RF Kennedy Jr pontificating about a subject he clearly doesn't understand:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr/attack-on-mothers_b_52894.html

I wasn't aware of "Ken" holding these views, so thanks for pointing out his inclinations. Yet another reason to be suspicious of him.

SteveF

In terms of foreign policy skills, here's an interesting article in yesterdays Washington Post:

Sen. John McCain, traveling in the Middle East to promote his foreign policy expertise, misidentified in remarks Tuesday which broad category of Iraqi extremists are allegedly receiving support from Iran.

He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq......

......The mistake threatened to undermine McCain's argument that his decades of foreign policy experience make him the natural choice to lead a country at war with terrorists. In recent days, McCain has repeatedly said his intimate knowledge of foreign policy make him the best equipped to answer a phone ringing in the White House late at night.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/03/18/a_mccain_gaffe_in_jordan.html

PJD

McCain "misspoke" according to his spokesman Brian Rogers. It gives me a snese of déjà vu.

Jason

"There must be plenty of mainly white districts that a black Republican could be a candidate like JC Watts did."

Maybe the GOP should take an add out in these districts. "Looking for black Republican to run for local office. Previous public service or party affiliation not required. The only requirement is that you are: 1) Black, 2) Willing to change your party affiliation to Republican."

Yeah! That would prove they aren't bigots!

And yeah, I was referring to former Klan member Robert Byrd. That's what happens when you get online after being out at the pub.

stavros

While I agree almost completely with the rest of the post, these last lines strike me as implausibly naive..

"An important task remains to him in turning now to his left and not to his right in selecting a running mate: Lieberman for Vice-President, not the Creationist and foreign policy naïf Huckabee."

Neither, IMHO, will be considered for neither bring significant block constituencies or add voting appeal to the McCain candidacy.

Alternatively a highly interesting option, especially after the Obama race speech: Condoleezza Rice.

John Costello

Prior to the mid-sixties most black Americans (like MLK) were republicans, since the dems were the party not only of the Klan but of lynching (the fillibuster was used primarily to stop the enactment of anti-lynching laws) but the Johnson administration co-opted them with the welfare state. Edward Brooke was a black Republican Senator from MA -- the Dems would not have had him when he ran -- his successor in the senate is John Kerry (D) Michael Steele ran in MD in 2006 -- the Dems ran a racist campaign with pictures of (the black)Steele in blackface! Ken Blackwell, the former Secretary of State in Ohio, is black (he was accused of trying to disenfranchise black voters by the dems because he tried to crack down on voting fraud.)Any black politicians who try to escape the Dem Party Plantation get attacked viciously as "race traitors" by both white and black leftists.

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