miércoles, 30 de enero de 2008

John McCain

If you support John MCain, an American hero and an honorable man, I applaud your choice.

If you support John MCain, an American hero and an honorable man, I applaud your choice. But do know this: he is no conservative and he is no mainstream Republican on any issue, be that national security, the economy or cultural values. He will set conservatism back forty years and he won´t even win.

May be he wants to help Rajoy to be elected too…

Michael Medved, a pro-McCain analyst, delicately lays out his case in the title of his Townhall piece this week: “Six big lies about McCain”. (Subtle!) That just about sums it up for me. Any criticism of John McCain is a “big lie”. That is just too bad, ain´t it? I do not have the patience to go down the list of “big lies” and the exceedingly puzzling debunking thereof by Medved, but let me spell out the opening one: the first “big lie” is that “John McCain is not a good Republican”, says the truth-seeking author, only to brush that criticism off by saying “he has never backed Democratic candidates for President”. Oh, that makes him into an extraordinary Republican! Quick, let us hand him the nomination right now!

In reality, John McCain was offered the Vice-presidential slot in the ticket by John Kerry and came very close to accepting running with him against Bush-Cheney in 2004. Why do you suppose that is? Because he is a very strong, principled, mainstream conservative Republican? Can you imagine John Kerry making the same offer to Rudy or Mitt Romney or any other Republican, for that matter? Me neither.

I yield to no one in my admiration of Senator MCain as a soldier and a hero. Everybody in this race is a lesser man by those standards. However, it is not about electing a hero, but a leader. Not about whose endurance while tortured by the Vietcong is most admirable, but about who among the field has the best policies, the best decision making and the ability to execute the duties of the Presidency. And for Republicans, I might add, about who advocates Republican policies! It is just alright for McCain to believe that Guantanamo is wrong; that foreign terrorists waging irregular war against the US have the exact same rights as any US national; that illegal immigrants ought to be amnestied and made US citizens while the country opens its borders for every one else; that restricting freedom of speech during electoral campaigns is a supremely noble fight against corruption; that blocking the appointment of conservative judges by huddling up with Democrats to preserve bipartisanship is worthy of praise; or that being only one of two Republicans to vote against Bush´s tax cuts is a very conservative thing to do. That is alright, but that is what Democrats spouse. Republicans believe the opposite to be true.

McCain passes for a champion of national security on account of his position on Iraq and the war. I give him his due. However, he is not the man who came up with the surge strategy: David Petraeus is. He is not the man who ordered it implemented: George W. Bush is. McCain was relentless in his criticism of the President and Donald Rumsfeld, but never had anything to say about the way Clinton´s Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, hollowed out the US Armed Forces, or in defense of the military against the likes of Dick Durbin or John Murtha. The war on Iraq is important and it definitely is an integral part of the War on Terror, but so is the protection of the home front. Affording access to US Courts to illegal combatants (would all legal combatants have the same recourse in every future war and why wouldn´t they?), banning any strenuous technique of interrogation of terrorist suspects and bringing all Guantanamo inmates to the US mainland or setting them free can be applauded from any number of perspectives but not from a tough-on-terror vantage point.

Let alone the non insignificant fact that the folks who did 9/11 were (you guessed it!) illegal immigrants. That is why legislation like the McCain-Kennedy Immigration bill that went down last summer may be a great humanitarian thing but it definitely jeopardizes US homeland security. Unless your immediate priority is, first, to seal out the borders and to enforce the laws of the land, the principal of which is that the US must have borders and the right to protect them! As for the fellows that knocked down the World Trade Center on September 11, nobody thought of protecting the borders, enforcing the immigration laws in their regard, of tracking them down, of deporting them…Hell, they would have been amnestied today and given residence visas under McCain-Kennedy!

Many people have no idea how much the legislation promoted by MCain and Feingold, the latter the most liberal member of the US Senate, in 2002 has curbed freedom of expression in the US. MCain-Feingold makes a federal crime to donate more than ,000 to any campaign, thereby ensuring that the very rich have the upper hand inasmuch as only they can write unlimited amount of checks to their own personal campaigns. It also makes illegal for any advocacy groups to support or attack publicly any candidates to any federal office. Can you imagine if it were illegal in Spain for any gay-rights or environment-crazed group to criticize Rajoy or for any pro-family advocates to express opposition to the current Spanish government? How could that make sense?

And what about coming up with the “bipartisan” Gang of 14 in 2006 to deny the confirmation by the Senate of judges nominated by President Bush at the time when the Republican majority was in the process of changing the Rules of the Senate to afford the nominees an up-or-down vote as decency and conservatism seemed to demand? They are still waiting, two years later, and with no prospect of over being voted on.

McCain contends that the debate on global warming is over (contention that not even Al Gore has had the temerity to make) and that industries have to be made to comply with endless socialist-style regulations. On the campaign trail he made the very peculiar admission that economics is not his strongest suit (translation: he does not understand a darn word of it). He has ranted against US pharmaceutical companies (yes, the same companies that have come up with an infinite array of drugs to treat the world´s ailments) and proposed to import drugs from Canada, thereby importing that country´s price controls and killing pharmaceutical research in the US. McCain may be right, depending on your ideological stand point, on condition that you do not believe in free markets.

And then, the last line of defense of a McCain nomination: he is the most electable of all Republicans! I believe he very well may be the least electable. Sure, he would narrow down the margin of defeat against the Democratic candidate in blue (Democratic) states. But a Democrat will still win in California, Oregon, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, will sweep New England…It does not matter one bit if you lose 65 to 35 or 55 to 45, you still lose every single electoral vote in that state. And you are going to face a massive defection of conservatives in most battleground states, thereby all but conceding them to the Democrats, along with even a handful of traditionally red (Republican) states, like Virginia. It does not take a genius to figure that out. All my Democratic friends love John McCain, but they will vote for the Democratic nominee, obviously. Most of my Republican friends loathe McCain and will not vote at all if he is the nominee.

But even if he had a realistic chance to win, he would for sure split the Republican Party like no other candidate and destroy Reagan´s legacy. His own might be to bring about a Conservative Party to the right of the Republicans and ensure Democratic domination for decades to come. At this point, I think that the preservation of the Republican Party as the party of conservatives may just be more important than winning the general election. In fact, I strongly believe so.

If you support John MCain, an American hero and an honorable man, I applaud your choice. But do know this: he is no conservative and he is no mainstream Republican on any issue, be that national security, the economy or cultural values. He will set conservatism back forty years and he won´t even win.

I did not have any fun writing this article and I do not much care if I did not fulfill my responsibility to say something about the Democratic race.

Por Alvaro Martín


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