Archive for Sunday, January 20, 2008

McCain talk not always so ‘straight’

January 20, 2008


— In 2004, one of John McCain's closest associates, John Weaver, spoke to John Kerry about the possibility of McCain running as Kerry's vice presidential running mate. In "No Excuses," Bob Shrum's memoir of his role in numerous presidential campaigns, including Kerry's, Shrum writes that Weaver assured Kerry that "McCain was serious about the possibility of teaming up with him," and Kerry approached McCain. He, however, was more serious about seeking the 2008 Republican nomination.

But was it unreasonable for Kerry to think McCain might be comfortable on a Democratic ticket? Not really.

In ABC's New Hampshire debate, McCain said: "Why shouldn't we be able to reimport drugs from Canada?" A conservative's answer is:

That amounts to importing Canada's price controls, a large step toward a system in which some medicines would be inexpensive but many others - new pain-relieving, life-extending pharmaceuticals - would be unavailable. Setting drug prices by government fiat rather than market forces results in huge reductions of funding for research and development of new drugs. McCain's evident aim is to reduce pharmaceutical companies' profits. But if all those profits were subtracted from the nation's health care bill, the pharmaceutical component of that bill would be reduced only from 10 percent to 8 percent - and innovation would stop, taking a terrible toll in unnecessary suffering and premature death. When McCain explains that trade-off to voters, he will actually have engaged in straight talk.

There are decent, intelligent people who believe that equity or efficiency or both are often served by government setting prices. In America, such people are called Democrats.

Because McCain is a "maverick" - the media encomium reserved for Republicans who reject important Republican principles - he would be a conciliatory president. He has indeed worked with Ted Kennedy on immigration reform, with Russ Feingold on restricting political speech (McCain-Feingold) and with Kennedy and John Edwards - a trial lawyer drawn to an enlargement of opportunities for litigation - on the "patients' bill of rights."

McCain is, however, an unlikely conciliator because he is quick to denigrate the motives, and hence the characters, of those who oppose him. He promiscuously accuses others of "corruption," the ubiquity of which he says justifies McCain-Feingold's expansive government regulation of the quantity, timing and content of campaign speech.

McCain says he would nominate Supreme Court justices similar to Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Sam Alito. But how likely is he to nominate jurists who resemble those four: They consider his signature achievement constitutionally dubious.

When the Supreme Court upheld McCain-Feingold 5-4, Scalia and Thomas were in the minority. That was before Alito replaced Sandra Day O'Connor, who was in the majority. Two years later, McCain filed his own brief supporting federal suppression of a right-to-life group's issue advertisement in Wisconsin because it mentioned a candidate for federal office during the McCain-Feingold blackout period prior to an election. The court ruled 5-4 against McCain's position, with Alito in the majority.

In the New Hampshire debate, McCain asserted that corruption is the reason drugs currently cannot be reimported from Canada. The reason is "the power of the pharmaceutical companies." When Mitt Romney interjected, "Don't turn the pharmaceutical companies into the big bad guys," McCain replied, "Well, they are."

There is a place in American politics for moralizers who think in such Manichaean simplicities. That place is in the Democratic Party, where people who talk like McCain are considered not mavericks but mainstream.

Republicans are supposed to eschew demagogic aspersions concerning complicated economic matters. But applause greets faux "straight talk" that brands as "bad" the industry responsible for the facts that polio is no longer a scourge, that childhood leukemia is no longer a death sentence, that depression and other mental illnesses are treatable diseases, that the rate of heart attacks and heart failures has been cut more than in half in 50 years.

When McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced legislation empowering Congress to comprehensively regulate U.S. industries' emissions of greenhouse gases in order to "prevent catastrophic global warming," they co-authored an op-ed column that radiated McCainian intolerance of disagreement. It said that a U.N. panel's report "puts the final nail in denial's coffin about the problem of global warming." Concerning the question of whether human activity is causing catastrophic warming, they said, "the debate has ended."

Interesting, is it not, that no one considers it necessary to insist that "the debate has ended" about whether the Earth is round. People only insist that a debate stop when they are afraid of what might be learned if it continues.

George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

Stimulating the economy will require major steps such as ending the Iraq imvasion/occupation. Neither Clinton nor McCain intend to bring the troops home. : Stop electing the PNAC Republican war machine to elected positions : a. b. c. d. all top republican candidates including the house and senate subscribe to this e. the DLC Clinton /Lieberman types subscribe to this f. the world has no respect for the republican PNAC war machine stop the mideast invasion - bring all the troops home. Taxpayers cannot afford this stupidity a significant pay increase to the middle class - this inceases spending and they pay the bills Demand National Health Insurance - this will save tons of money for 95% of citizens Increase expenditures in public education and Vocational-Technical Education Stop bailing out Wall Street - That money would be better spent on National Health Insurance or Vocational-Tech education

Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

The Vietnam War was the longest military conflict in U.S. history. The hostilities in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans. Another 304,000 were wounded. The Vietnam War was a military struggle fought in Vietnam from 1959 to 1975, involving the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (NLF) in conflict with United States forces and the South Vietnamese army. From 1946 until 1954, the Vietnamese had struggled for their independence from France during the First Indochina War. At the end of this war, the country was temporarily divided into North and South Vietnam. North Vietnam came under the control of the Vietnamese Communists who had opposed France and who aimed for a unified Vietnam under Communist rule. The South was controlled by Vietnamese who had collaborated with the French. In 1965 the United States sent in troops to prevent the South Vietnamese government from collapsing. Ultimately, however, the United States failed to achieve its goal, and in 1975 Vietnam was reunified under Communist control; in 1976 it officially became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. During the conflict, approximately 3 to 4 million Vietnamese on both sides were killed, in addition to another 1.5 to 2 million Lao and Cambodians who were drawn into the war.

Vietnam War - US troops during the war in Vietnam in 1966. Sunday is the 25th anniversary of the pullout of Americans from the Vietnam War. US troops during the war in Vietnam in 1966. Sunday is the 25th anniversary of the pullout. (AP file photo) The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular war in which Americans ever fought. And there is no reckoning the cost. The toll in suffering, sorrow, in rancorous national turmoil can never be tabulated. No one wants ever to see America so divided again. And for many of the more than two million American veterans of the war, the wounds of Vietnam will never heal.

Fifty-eight thousand Americans lost their lives. The losses to the Vietnamese people were appalling. The financial cost to the United States comes to something over $150 billion dollars. Direct American involvement began in 1955 with the arrival of the first advisors. The first combat troops arrived in 1965 and we fought the war until the cease-fire of January 1973. To a whole new generation of young Americans today, it seems a story from the olden times.

Invading and occupying other countries simply does not have world support with good reason.

Mkh 10 years, 4 months ago

McCain says he is going to "slash spending" by the federal government. Yet he also claims he will keep US troops in Iraq for "100 years" or more if needed.

Will someone please explain to that moron McCain why he can't do both? Thanks.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

I am a vet how could I be that way toward my vet brothers and sisters? I never witnessed such behavior and I'll bet you didn't either. Peace sign T shirt you bet and ho ho ho no more war you bet.

Edwards and Kucinich are looking better everyday for they are receiving the least amounts of high dollar campaign contributions and keeping their bills paid. That means they have fewer special interest obligations and should be able to get the economy moving again. Both want to get us out of Iraq because that is a huge drag on the economy.

Not only that they will push to restore our rights and stop spying on americans.

BigDog 10 years, 4 months ago

Well Rudy is doing so bad because he has chosen to not campaign in anywhere but Florida. It is hard to get people to support you when you don't even bother to seriously campaign in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampsire, Michigan or South Carolina. He has lost all momentum he once had .... now McCain's momentum is threatening to overtake him in the one state that he has seriously campaigned ...Florida. If he loses there, that is his final chance to get his campaign back from the dead. The hole is dug and they are sholveling on the dirt .... campaign better jump out of the grave quickly.

I have never seen a national candidate blow their chance so significantly. Whomever is advising his campaign should be fired. Not that it would help much at this point.

Mkh 10 years, 4 months ago

Rudy laid down on purpose weeks ago, because that is what he was told to do in order to make room for Bloomberg to get in the race. Who the Elite feel is a much stronger candidate, especially on economics. (Note Bloomberg is also an important memeber of the Bilderberg Group).

Rudy got what he was promised for 9/11...I'm sure he'll have a nice cabinet position waiting, or another chance to run in the future (raise money).

Now McCain is the chosen Establishment candidate, with Romney and Huckabee fighting for second place on the Establishment ticket.

If it ends up being Hillary/Obama vs. McCain/Romney or Huckabee vs. Bloomberg/? this nation is going to be permantly screwed. Just the thought of it makes me shiver.

Vote Ron Paul 2008.

beatrice 10 years, 4 months ago

rt, few people belittle you for stating an opinion or making what you think is an honest observation when you do so without calling people names or by trying to state what another person is thinking. The belittling comes in when you try to lump all people who are liberal and with whom you disagree as evil, horrible people who must hate America and want to side with the terrorists. It is that type of behavior that brings about the belittling. Try to just make your point without the name-calling, and you will be amazed at how much better people around here will treat you.

Now, to the story, I'm not surprised to see George Will trying to take pot shots at McCain since it appears he may win the nomination over the social conservative candidates. Giuliani appears to be toast at this point, which makes the race between McCain and Romney. Of course, I could be wrong, and if Rudy wins his strategy will be considered one of the greatest in American political history. I just wouldn't put my money on that horse.

As I see it, McCain is the only Republican who stands even a remote chance of winning an election over the Democrats, whether against Clinton or Obama. I think the Reps are too scattered, too many disallusioned by how bad Bush has been for the country, too many upset over the fiscal irresponsibility of the current administration, too much questioning within the party on the importance of the religious right and social conservatism, and too many of the social conservatives questioning the role of the small government role of the fiscal conservatives. They will never get a large enough percentage of the middle-ground, undecided voters to win. And Romney's flip-flopping social values and slick, car-salesman's demeanor will tank his chances for winning. Romney reminds me of the flipside of the Edwards coin -- too slick and seemingly contrived to be taken seriously.

And whoever wins will inherit a runaway deficit, a war without end, a distrust in government not seen since Nixon, an economy leaning toward recession if not in full blown recession by that time, a tanking dollar, dwindling oil supplies, and the continued threat of al-Quaida and Islamic-extremists, among other things. I truly wish him or her all the best.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.