The Problem with McCain

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

There is a lot of silliness on the part of McCain supporters when it comes to why conservatives are having such trouble with McCain. It is because they are don’t’ control him, or because they don’t like his style, or because he isn’t pure enough,  implying that he has only minor deviations from core conservative principles and conservatives just need to get over themselves and support him.

Such arguments are at best counterproductive.  One of the worst things you can do when trying to win over someone is to misrepresent or distort their grievances, as this only leads at minimum to a renewed effort to be understood, and more likely a hardening of the divisions.

While I by no means speak for all conservatives, I do think my views are fairly common among conservatives.  Long before McCain’s political resurrection to capture the GOP nomination, I believed there were six main issues of importance in the upcoming election.   The War on Terrorism, the Economy, the Courts,  Health Care, Global Warming, and Immigration.

McCain is said to have solid credentials on war, and for the most part this is true.  Yet he has also been a pretty consistent critic at the same time, particularly over water boarding and other tough interrogation methods, arguing if we do these, then others might use these methods on our soldiers. Not only do I disagree with such reasoning, I find it very troubling.  Does McCain really believe that when He, Hillary or Obama gets in the White House next year and announces that we will no longer use such practices, that suddenly Al Qaeda will start treading any soldiers they capture by the Geneva Convention?  If not, then why use this argument?

As for the broader war effort, McCain has spent so much time taking credit for the surge, that I don’t really know where he stand on the broader war on terror, but my assumption is that he is probably ok,  but I would like him to speak a bit more on issues such as Iran.

But this goes to another key problem with McCain.  He is not a conservative, is a politician who has largely voted conservative, thought less so in recent years.  Frankly I never know where he will come down on a given issue. 

In short, McCain on the war is Ok, but there are several key question marks.   This is also my concern with the courts.   He has made some good comments, and has been reported to have made some troubling ones.  But when it comes to judges, will the Conservative McCain pick them, or will the McCain who reaches across the aisle pick them?  I don’t know.

When it comes to the economy,  McCain has admitted he does not know very much, as was demonstrated by voting against the Bush Tax cuts.  He now says he wants them extended, but it is very hard not to see this as driven by the campaign.  It would not at all surprise me should he become President, to see him taking a page from Bill Clinton and claiming “I tried as hard as I could but…”  

He seems to be getting some good advisors, but what troubles me the most is that given his lack of understanding he does not realize the effect of some of his other proposals will have.  Given some of his other proposals, and his past history, I would not at all be surprised to see a net tax increase under a McCain administration. Thus for me this is a slight negative.

On Health care, McCain’s propensity to reach across the aisle combined with his lack of understanding of how economies work cause me to be very concerned.  The current strategy of the Liberals is to incrementally move towards single payer, Government run health care.  Will McCain take a strong stance for individual freedom and control over their own health care, pushing for a solution based on market forces, or will he link up with a Senator Clinton to reach a bi-partisan (read liberal) solution?  Again his history is hardly comforting in this area.  His comments about the drug companies are very troubling and make this a negative.

When it comes to the last two items Global Warming and Immigration, McCain is clearly and solidly on the other side.   I consider both to be very important issues.  Global Warming represents a massive shift of power away from individual people to have control over their lives, giving it to the Government.  This is yet another indication of why McCain so troubling. He claims to be a low tax, small government conservative, yet he supports Global warming initiates that will greatly increase the tax burden, along with the size and scope of Government.  This is a big negative.

As for Immigration, while he claims to have “listened and learned” he clearly hasn’t. The biggest message from last years’ failure of the immigration bill was, build the fence, enforce the laws, and after this is done, then we will talk about those who are still here.  Yet, a recently campaign commercial here in Wisconsin sounded like it could have been said by McCain during last year’s debate, except that he has added the phrase “listened and learned.” Another big negative.

So on the six issues that are most important to me, on none does he get my unqualified endorsement.  One is at best a big question mark, one is a slight negative, one is a negative and two are very large negatives.

So when McCain supporters claim that conservative opposition is simply about style, purity, or control, they are just showing me that they really don’t have a clue, or they do and are just lying.  It has been a very unusual year and perhaps McCain will be the first President elected without the support of the base of his party.   For me, my current plan is to vote for McCain in November, and I will detail my reasons why in a future post.

Feb 5th, 2008

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