January 27, 2008
McCain & Me

Loyal readers know full well this writer doesn't harbor much fondness for John McCain. Yes, he's a hero, a patriot, and his service to the country on issues of national defense in the Senate is worthy of praise. Yet, short of a race narrowing down to a choice between McCain and Mike Huckabee for the GOP nod, I'm inclined to not only vote for my preference of Mitt Romney, but against John McCain at all costs.

I wasn't going to elaborate on why I feel so strongly about matter, which goes well beyond the issues regarding which McCain has crossed swords with Republicans [Mark Levin offers a succinct summary on that score for those still perplexed at GOP angst with McCain]. But, McCain has recently brought the issue that so troubles me about the thought of him in the Oval Office back to the fore, so I'll give it a hearing.

Yesterday McCain alleged Romney had this past spring advocated setting a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq. That accusation promptly turned into an on-the-trail spat between the candidates. There are several angles to this.

First, as a matter of pure politics it is certainly not uncommon for a candidate to mischaracterize and even distort his/her opponent's position in the closing days of a heated contest. In McCain's case, changing the conversation from economic issues to national security matters is inherently a good thing, especially since post-Fred Thompson withdrawal and pre-Charlie Crist endorsement polls showed momentum in Romney's favor. Successfully changing that dialogue and picking up the support of Florida's popular governor is a mighty good twenty-four hours for the McCain campaign.

But , he took it too far, as he has done before.

The AP reported right away that McCain was incorrect. Other MSMer's joined in, including at Michael Scherer at Time and CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, who flat out said McCain was "lying." John King at CNN likewise said McCain had it wrong while following-up to Bill Bennett's call for McCain to do the honorable thing and correct the record. Given that Bennett has been one of the few talk-radio hosts to defend McCain's candidacy in recent days that's not an insignificant development.

Yet, that isn't all. Powerline weighed-in, giving McCain due credit for his leadership on Iraq and the surge, but clarifying he does indeed have Romney's position wrong. Captain's Quarters was more aggressive in chiding McCain for a "dishonest attack."

McCain is taking heat from the press and the conservative blogosphere on the issue, but a couple observers have captured the true issue aside from the politics of the ploy and specifics of the issue: McCain's sense of honor (which at times is one of his campaign's strengths). Here is the best description of how that honor permeates McCain's political essence:

John McCain seems rarely to differentiate issues of constitutional principle from issues of practical politics. He is unbending both when he is right and when he is wrong on these issues. To say that McCain is not a party man does not do justice to the case; he tends to subsume practical political questions into matters of personal honor, and occasionally to miss applicable constitutional principles in the process. One might call the tendency Caesarist, except that Senator McCain apparently aspires to be seen exceeding the purity of Caesar's wife.

Mark Steyn and Ramesh Ponnuru correctly identify that this is the root of the conflict in this case too. Romney didn't share McCain's position with the same vigor and stubbornness. As he often does, McCain viewed his own position as honorable. And as he often does likewise as well, he concurrently made the leap of viewing those not taking his position as dishonorable.

Hence, McCain had the audacity to respond to Romney's call for him to apologize for the false statement thus: "'I think the apology is owed to the young men and women serving this nation in uniform.'"

McCain by all accounts has the matter wrong, yet he is the one going to Defcon 1 and saying it is instead Romney who must apologize, to our troops in the field no less! McCain gets Romney's position totally wrong, and Romney is supposed to apologize to the troops for that?

It is incidents like this why only four of McCain's Republican colleagues in the Senate endorsed him in 2000. And it is incidents like this why Republicans such as Rick Santorum are speaking out loudly against McCain now.

McCain has proven himself time and time again of being incapable of disagreeing agreeably. Many Republicans have at times cast votes in opposition with their party. But John McCain quite often co-sponsors such bills with Democrats, appears at the press conference introducing the legislation, then goes on the Sunday talk shows to tell his fellow Republicans why they're wrong. Along the way he may or may not cuss out those same Republicans in private for having the gall to take a different view of the matter.

Earlier this campaign season Romney's campaign sent out a Top 10 list of McCain going profanely apoplectic on his fellow Republicans. Like many a former Senate staffer, I could share a tale that tops all those. It is both stunningly hilarious and completely appalling that a United States Senator - let alone a candidate for President - would behave in such a manner. Alas, the circumstances of the event in question means it is not my story to tell so the list above will have to do.

Nevertheless, I believe the point remains clear. McCain's inability to respect the legitimate and principled viewpoints of others without resorting to insult and distortion has been a hallmark of his interactions with other Republicans. Yes, he is in large part an honorable man. But his personal sense of honor too often clouds his judgment of others in the political realm. As such, I don't trust him and probably never will.

If it comes to a choice between McCain and Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama I will vote unenthusiastically for McCain, largely because even with all his faults he would still be a better choice on matters of national defense and judges - two of the most fundamentally important issues in the portfolio of all Presidents.

But until I face with that choice, I like many other Republicans will oppose him vociferously. This weekend just happened to remind we why with great clarity.

UPDATE: I see Rich Lowry has reached many of the same conclusions regarding this affair. Fundamentally, it's an issue about how a prospective leader of the party treats the fellow members of that party. In McCain's case it is notably worse than how he treats Democrats. Well, that and the "rank dishonesty" coming from the "Straight Talk Express," which Lowry emphasizes too.

Posted by Eric Earling at January 27, 2008 04:45 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Make it easy on yourself. Vote Huckabee - the only true conservative in the race ... regardless of what Limbaugh says. I almost shed a tear when my hero (Limbaugh) went on the air and accused Huckabee of being a tax and spender, of having an open border policy and of using anti-war rhetoric. I had researched Huckabee far enough back (several years) that when I heard these misrepresentations of Huckabee's record, I almost broke my own jaw - my mouth fell so fast. I could not believe it was possible my hero was repeating Romney talking points instead of doing his own research. I was devastated, then I was mad. How many other things had Limbaugh lied about over the years that I had swallowed without a second thought? When I hear Limbaugh talking about Hillary now there is just a slight check in my ability to believe him. That is lost trust. And that is a shame.

Posted by: Chris on January 27, 2008 05:03 PM
2. When Bill Clinton failed to enact enough gun-control for Rudy's taste, Rudy led a legislation-by-litigation effort to sue Smith & Wesson over big city crime problems.

So he 1) supports gun-control; 2) supports frivolous lawsuits; 3) doesn't mind undermining our basic form of gov't. Three strikes and he's out, for a libertarian-oriented voter like me.

Huck is basically a progressive w/ a Bible. Mitt is an unknown; he's seemingly been on both sides of every issue.

That leaves McCain. Maybe he's overly stubborn and needs anger-management, but I can't vote for the others.

Posted by: russell garrard on January 27, 2008 05:06 PM
3. Here's a look at McCain's economic knowledge.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu-tg1kQ8dk

Posted by: Larry on January 27, 2008 05:06 PM
4. Eric, I agree with your comments on McCain. He is vindictive and I do not think he has the demeanor to be president. Hope for either a miracle for Rudy or that Mitt takes him down in Florida...

Posted by: Bill H on January 27, 2008 05:20 PM
5. Conservatism consistes of principles and policies, to be sure, but it also (perhaps above all) is based on a philosophy that includes an optimistic, confident, forward-looking moral vision for America's future. That optimistic and confident philosophy has no need for angry, dishonest hyperbole; it has no need for bitterness or abrasive behavior.

Whatever his other strengths and weaknesses, McCain's policies on many issues, along with his abrasive negativity to conservatives who disagree with his policies, indicate that he is not the best representative of that optimistic, confident, forward-looking philosophy.

On global warming, McCain is wrong. On the Bush tax cuts, McCain is wrong. On McCain-Kennedy, again McCain is wrong. On McCain-Feingold, again McCain is wrong. On his love affair with the liberal media, and on his abrasive negativity towards the conservative base, McCain is wrong.

The Republican Party needs a presidential candidate who can compare favorably with the dishonesty, manipulation, and corruption of Hillary Clinton. McCain is not the best person to be our representative in such a contest against Clinton (or Obama).

On his opposition to aggressive questioning of terrorists, McCain is wrong - and his policy cuts across his national security credentials.

McCain's pro-amnesty stance is also wrong. Especially in time of war, amnesty, open borders, and weak border security are dangerous and harmful to our national sovereignty. In that respect as well, McCain's pro-amnesty stance cuts across his national security credentials.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 27, 2008 05:48 PM
6. Rudy is no longer a viable candidate. John McCain, however, is not only a viable candidate for the nomination, he is the most likely nominee. If that happens, then I will, for the very first time in my adult life, not vote for president in the upcoming election. I take my vote very seriously. I cannot vote for a man I distrust as much as I distrust McCain. He lies like a Clinton (his recent attack on Romney), he supports and authors bills that are not only anti-Republican, but anti-American as well, (McCain-Feingold). And, he simply doesn't have the experience to lead this great nation. A legislator isn't an executive. Legislators don't make hard decisions, they barter, they cajole, they arm-twist, while always keeping an eye on the polls. I want to know the man I vote for knows something about running a goverment, not just his mouth!

Posted by: Pete on January 27, 2008 06:03 PM
7. I agree with Pete with one exception. I don't believe Mr. McCain is a viable candidate nor the most likely nominee. I go along with him in his decision to not vote in that case and I would never resort to voting for Hillary or Obama. I have never not voted in any election since I was of voting age. I read a rather long article on McCain earlier tonight and was quite surprised to learn of his personal history. He comes across as a smug narcissist and doesn't seem to have the experience or ability to run our country.

Posted by: Ina Callery on January 27, 2008 07:06 PM
8. "Make it easy on yourself. Vote Huckabee - the only true conservative in the race" - Chris

Huckabee is a Christian Socialist, not a conservative. If he were honest, he would run as an anti-abortion democrat.

Posted by: AP on January 27, 2008 07:40 PM
9. Eric,

Are we a bit defensive? McCain's accusations probably have the same validity as Romney's accusations that McCain doesn't support Bush's tax cuts.

Posted by: Doug on January 27, 2008 07:41 PM
10. "#1: Vote Huckabee - the only true conservative in the race"?
What do you define as conservative? THERE IS NOT ONE CONSERVATIVE RUNNING! I could live with McCain, if he'd stop pandering to Ted Kennedy, or Rudy if I was assured that he believed in PERSONAL responsibility, or Romney if I was sure I knew what he supports (let alone believes) or Huckabee if he didn't see government as the answer (check out his views on, oh, running corporations or protecting the country).
My rant isn't so much at you as the poor field of "republicans" that we have to choose from.

Posted by: rhinobits on January 27, 2008 07:43 PM
11. let me get this straight, people on a political blog are complaining about someone using foul language?

Posted by: Quincy on January 27, 2008 08:08 PM
12. Doug -

I would have the same disdain for McCain's approach had he done likewise to Fred Thompson or Rudy Giuliani. My long-standing disapproval of his tactics should be evident in the post.

Moreover, based on the tone of your comment, it's not clear to me you actually read the links I offered. From the MSM to the conservative blogs it's a damning portrait of McCain. Good luck finding many people outside of the McCain campaign defending him in this case.

But since you raised the issue of the tax cuts, let's explore that for just a minute. Not only did McCain vote against the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 (after opposing Bush's tax cuts on the campaign trail in 2000), he did so while using the class-warfare rhetoric one would expect to see from liberal Democrats (see more here).

Moreover, McCain continued to oppose extending the tax cuts as late as 2004 (note the link is based on Giuliani's campaign taking issue with McCain on the topic).

Given that both Romney and Giuliani - and the conservative blogosphere - have taken McCain's record on tax cuts to task I'd say it's a real issue. In contrast, given that even McCain's sympathizers in the MSM aren't coming to his aid on this one it seems pretty clear just how dishonest what he said really is.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 27, 2008 08:19 PM
13. Huckabee on the issues: Signed AFTR Pledge to not raise taxes (Guiliani and McCain did not); supports a Human Life Amendment (the only candidate on either side to support it); opposes an assault weapons ban (Romney and Giuliani do not); signed the No Amnesty Pledge (so far, the only candidate to do so); opposes a timetable for removal of troops from Iraq; opposes curriculum that promotes homosexuality (Romney is the only candidate who doesn't oppose this curriculum); believes in small government; strong on states rights; cut taxes 94 times; started a Tax Me More Fund (2002) in Arkansas to point out the hypocrisy of those Democrats who wanted to raise taxes, but weren't willing to pay for them. I'm not sure how much more conservative you can get. Do some research instead of repeating Limbaugh/Romney talking points.

Posted by: Chris on January 27, 2008 08:24 PM
14. There are many examples of McCain not being quite truthful. The most recent that comes to mind is his "for public consumption" on immigration, apparently doing an about-turn on the legislation he co-sponsored which was shot down by public outcry. However, what he is not telling voters is that his Hispanic Outreach Director is none other than the delightful Juan Hernandez, former Vicente Fox cabinet member and oft-seen interviewee on cable news shows, telling us all what bigots we are, that our borders should be open, that illegal immigrants are not illegal, and on and on. He even views Mexico and the U.S. as "one region". What say you, McCain supporters?

Posted by: katomar on January 27, 2008 08:51 PM
15. Sorry Eric, I'm just enjoying the turning of the tables on Mitt. After he unfairly went after Huckabee and McCain in New Hampshire I think it's interesting to see how he takes it in Florida. Just wait until the Clinton machine gets after him - if he has that chance.

Yours and McCain's positions on tax cuts are interesting. When the country's economy is growing fast (as it was during the mid-2000's) that is when the govt. is supposed to work on it's deficit. When the economy is cooling off - that is when deficit spending is good. Hence, running in 2000 against tax-cuts while the economy seemed to be doing well, isn't all that bad. Of course when 9/11 hit, the tax-cuts and interest rate cuts were necessary, so opposing them isn't good - unless he knew they were going to pass and just wanted to protest the increase in spending.

AP, if Huckabee is a Christian Socialist - based on his record as Governor, then Romney is a Socialist and Reagan was a Socialist. All three of them increased fees and taxes to pay for needed state projects. It just so happens that Romney and Reagan implemented liberal social programs while governors and Huckabee kept his Christian roots.

Posted by: Doug on January 27, 2008 08:59 PM
16. Doug -

In all respect, your personal enjoyment of various campaigns turns and twists doesn't excuse the lack of logic in your comment at #8.

Moreover, when did anyone ever complain about the truth of Romney's ads in Iowa and NH? There's nothing in the ads about Huckabee that was false. The only thing that was even questionable in the ads about McCain was the "amnesty" reference, and even that's debatable.

Our politics have gotten pathetic indeed if you're going to deem tame contrast ads as "unfair" while taking glee in the words of a candidate for President who is getting called on the carpet by all comers. Plus, your comment implies Romney has is just now starting to take heat. He's been under the gun (like most candidates) from the press since day one and has had sustained back-and-forths with Giuiliani, McCain, and Huckabee dating back to last summer. There's nothing new to him taking it. There is something, different, however about McCain's blatant dishonesty and the criticism that is being heaped on him for it.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 27, 2008 09:11 PM
17. Eric,

Taking your cue from Mark Levin gives you even less credibility than you had before. As much vitriol as you display for McCain, I now have double for Romney.

Where were you when Romney was maliciously distorting Huckabee's record in Iowa and McCain's in South Carolina? To the average onlooker, it appears that by your standards, anyone with enough money and slick-backed hair can get away with this style of campaigning. I won't defend McCain's misstatement, but I also won't give much regard to your hypocritical coverage of the race.

It is incredible to me that you spend so much time bashing the only two conservatives left in this race: McCain and Huckabee. That puts you right up there with Loser Levin and Sans-Senate-Seat-Santorum. … And all the rest of the old guard with no new ideas and flashing dollars signs in their eyes.

Unbelievably, you drink the Kool-Aid with the best of them. You don't call Mitt Romney out for flip-flopping on almost every major issue he's campaigned on: War on Iraq, health care, gay marriage, civil unions, abortion, spending, etc. Is there anything that distinguishes Romney '08 from Kerry '04? Do you really believe everything/anything the former MA governor says? Because, it certainly appears that way!

You somehow believe that a Massachusetts politician who campaigned to the left of Ted Kennedy in 1994 and helped usher in gay marriage during his tenure deserves the new conservative mantle. This is conservative elitism at a whole new level.

Your implicit encouragement of the preeminent attitude on this web site that one should sit out the presidential race if McCain is the nominee is destructive and promotes arrogant disregard for the future of our party.

My support for Huckabee first and McCain second is not based on my dislike for Romney. But, the more Romney supporters and his campaign distort the records of other candidates, and the more personal fortune he pours into the race, the less respect I have for the guy.

We're talking about a campaign that is in many respects trying to buy their way to a nomination. Excuse the indignation, but I thought Republicans were a little smarter than this.

Posted by: Marko on January 27, 2008 09:14 PM
18. Romney supported timetables in Iraq ... Let's remember- we have to dig a bit further than Romney press releases to get the truth...

"There’s no question that the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki [of Iraq] have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about, but those shouldn’t be for public pronouncement. ... You don’t want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're going to be gone,” Romney said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Source: http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/romney-supports-secret-iraq-timetable-2007-04-04.html


Also read: http://www.factcheck.org/more_mitt_malarkey.html

Posted by: Marko on January 27, 2008 09:24 PM
19. "When the country's economy is growing fast (as it was during the mid-2000's) that is when the govt. is supposed to work on it's deficit. When the economy is cooling off - that is when deficit spending is good. Hence, running in 2000 against tax-cuts while the economy seemed to be doing well, isn't all that bad. Of course when 9/11 hit, the tax-cuts and interest rate cuts were necessary, so opposing them isn't good - unless he knew they were going to pass and just wanted to protest the increase in spending."

Doug, what is your economic background? Where did you study? Because you're spouting 100% unadulterated neo-Keyesianianism, which is usually the drink preferred by liberal Democrats. I say "neo-" because even Keynes himself later renounced it, explaining that he had written that in 1935, in the dark pit of the Great Depression, and he felt that something drastic and radical had to be done. Liberals in the 1950's, however, just couldn't let go of such a great rationalization for government control of the economy through taxing and spending, and kept it, even as their visionary leader discarded it. Maynard was a brilliant and witty fellow, and always the life of the party, but you should try a few sips of Uncle Milt's Monetarist Blend instead.

Posted by: TB on January 27, 2008 09:28 PM
20. TB, actually my degree was from the 9th best business college at the time and no, I'm a supply-sider that sees all. For Example, you do realize that Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and '03 didn't increase revenues as a percentage of GDP like they should have at the time.

Tax cuts themselves don't necessary increase revenues. A great example would be the tax-rebates coming out in May - they are built to spur the economy, but because of the people they are going to, will not spur govt. receipts.

McCain's position of reducing spending would be laudible, if the reduction in spending was in areas with lower multipliers, while tax cuts were for those with the higher multipliers.

One of the biggest challenges we have moving forward is that the biggest hunk of Fed. spending will be in areas that don't have a high multiplier (social security, etc.)

And Keynes did not do what I said in '35. Keynes and FDR were absolute disasters - taxing the wrong areas and spending again in the low multipliers. The point I was making was not controlling the economy through taxing and spending, but rather to siphon off to do the govt's work while times are good, and when times aren't so good to make sure the money supply is moving in the economy.

Reagan was going to do it perfectly but the Dem. congress refused to do his spending cuts like he wanted, hence the deficits went way up and in just a few years during the boom he was forced to 'repeal' a huge portion of this tax cuts.

Posted by: Doug on January 27, 2008 09:43 PM
21. BTW TB,

The best candidate bar none as far as the economy goes is Rudy Giuliani. McCain and Romney are nothing compared to Rudy and Steve Forbes. If I thought Romney had a chance at beating Hillary, then he would be my third choice ahead of McCain and behind Rudy and Huckabee.

Posted by: Doug on January 27, 2008 09:46 PM
22. Marko -

Providing a link to an article that Mark Levin wrote, which does actually summarize conservative grievances with McCain, is a whole lot different that "taking cues" from him. I don't actually like a lot of his commentary but the article in question is a fair and convienient summation.

Now, if you think McCain and of all people Huckabee are "the only two conservatives left in this race" then I'm not sure what the point of us continuing to converse on this matter is, because a good chunk of the conservative movement disagrees with you.

That and despite your assertion otherwise, I'm fairly certain your vitriol toward Romney was pretty high before bringing me into it. Your rage at someone spending their own money on a race half makes me think you're a lefty troll.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 27, 2008 09:49 PM
23. OK, Doug, good to know you're not just spouting talking points.

But do you judge the success of a tax cut by whether it increases government revenue or not? I don't. Ceteris paribus, I see a tax cut as a good thing in and of itself. More money for the people, less to feed the ever-growing-and-displacing cancer we call government, to put it bluntly. Not always the right thing to do, of course -- depends on the spending picture -- but something tells me McCain's vote against was inspired not so much by a deep economic analysis as by the politics of drawing attention to himself.

Posted by: TB on January 27, 2008 09:58 PM
24. The point I was making was not controlling the economy through taxing and spending, but rather to siphon off to do the govt's work while times are good, and when times aren't so good to make sure the money supply is moving in the economy. - Doug

You might as well have just quoted Keynes. Depending on when you graduated, you probably were taught by a Keynesian regardless of what school, so no worries. Just do some reading about what you are proposing as a good idea is actually not. May I suggest Milton Friedman.

Posted by: Tim on January 27, 2008 09:59 PM
25. Excellent post Eric. Really a great collection of the issues facing McCain and the conservative punditry's reaction.

I won't go into any substantive criticism. I don't have much to add. But I will say that personally, the guy just strikes me as a weasel. There's just something not right. And he often plays the Hanoi Hilton card, if even in an unmentionable way, because it's absolutely untouchable.

You know, if it came down to McCain v. Democrats, I'd have to seriously gulp before pulling the lever for him. I think if there's going to be a lot of similarity between a McCain presidency and one of say, Hillary, why not just let Hillary make the mistakes and then store that up as political capital for 2012.

Did I just write that? Just writing out loud here, but I think there are a lot of conservatives who don't trust McCain, and rightly recognize that he's wrong on many things. His Global Warming fawning particularly galls me.

'Nuff said.

Posted by: Jeff B. on January 27, 2008 10:05 PM
26. Eric: Frankly, I don't really care if McCain is a jerk. Maybe we need a jerk in the White House to keep tabs on Congres ... no matter which party controls it. As many a wise man has said, politics ain't lawn bowling. More like lawn darts. With sharpened tips. And no rules. Not that I like what he always says and does, but I think there are far more important things.

Steve Beren: I agree with you often, but I am going to disagree with you here.

On global warming, McCain is wrong. On the Bush tax cuts, McCain is wrong. On McCain-Kennedy, again McCain is wrong. On McCain-Feingold, again McCain is wrong. ... On his opposition to aggressive questioning of terrorists, McCain is wrong - and his policy cuts across his national security credentials. ... McCain's pro-amnesty stance is also wrong. Especially in time of war, amnesty, open borders, and weak border security are dangerous and harmful to our national sovereignty.

OK, first, I'll agree with you. He is wrong on global warming and campaign finance.

Now, to the disagreement!

I think McCain was right on the tax cuts, for two reasons. First, if McCain had his way, we would have had tax cuts AND spending cuts. Conservatives should be quite pleased with this, no? Second, he is right that it was too heavily geared toward the top end. Do you remember what Bush said? That his tax cuts were for ALL income tax payers. But this isn't true. I've scoured the bills, and I can find no tax cut for people in the 10 percent bracket with no dependents, no spouse, and no capital gains. It should have been a broader cut for the bottom end. And it should have done what Bush said it did.

I am all for the tax cuts, but they should have been better tax cuts, and they should have been accompanied by spending cuts, and that's all McCain was saying.

On questioning terrorists, all McCain was saying is that if something is torture, it shouldn't be legal, which is a. what our law requires, and b. in line with what every expert says about the general efficacy of torture.

Now, before you bring up the Jack Bauer scenario, McCain said fine, if you know someone has information about an imminent attack, yes, go ahead and torture. You violate the law, and then the public or the Congress decide whether that was justified. This is the rule of law over the rule of man. This is right to me, as it both follows our law, and it follows our principles that no one is above the law, and that we have rule of law.

Finally, on his immigration stance: I disagree with his view significantly, but calling it "amnesty" is inaccurate and calling it "open borders" is false.

Posted by: pudge on January 27, 2008 10:44 PM
27.
McCain considers setting benchmarks for Iraqis

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the most stalwart supporters of the war in Iraq, said Thursday that he might propose that the Iraqi government meet certain benchmarks for the United States to continue its engagement.

...

Asked what penalty would be imposed if Iraq failed to meet his benchmarks, he said: "I think everybody knows the consequences. Haven't met the benchmarks? Obviously, then, we're not able to complete the mission. Then you have to examine your options."

...

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said: "I called for that . . . several weeks ago. I'm glad that John McCain agrees with me.

Posted by: TB on January 27, 2008 10:51 PM
28. On Huckabee: AP and rhinobits are basically right. While I would call McCain a conservative, and I HOPE that Romney really is the conservative he is trying to make himself appear as, none of them are the conservative I am looking for.

But Chris@13 brings up issues, so let's look at them.

Signed AFTR Pledge to not raise taxes (Guiliani and McCain did not)

That pledge is useless in the long run if you won't balance the budget, and as he is continually referring to the new programs he wants to fund, I don't believe he can do it.


supports a Human Life Amendment (the only candidate on either side to support it)

Yes, everyone agress Huckabee is conservative on the hot-button social issues, but that's not what makes one a Conservative.


opposes an assault weapons ban (Romney and Giuliani do not)

Good.


signed the No Amnesty Pledge (so far, the only candidate to do so)

First, this is from a group I've never heard of, called "NumbersUSA."

Second, this very same group clearly rates Romney ahead of Huckabee on its home page, with a "good" record (vs. "bad" for Huckabee) on prior record; an "excellent" (also "excellent" for Huckabee) on promises about amnesty; and "excellent" (vs. "good" for Huckabee) on promises regarding stopping future illegal immigration.

So even though he didn't take their pledge, they still put Romney above Huckabee.


opposes a timetable for removal of troops from Iraq

I frankly don't see this as liberal vs. conservative. It depends on the circumstances. Granted, many people choose their stance depending on which party they are in, but others (like Rep. Baird) are willing to make their own best judgment based on what's going on at the time. Right now I oppose a timetable, as I always have, but six months from now? Who knows.


opposes curriculum that promotes homosexuality (Romney is the only candidate who doesn't oppose this curriculum)

I don't know much about this curriculum you speak of, but a true conservative would oppose the federal government having anything to do with curriculum!


believes in small government; strong on states rights

Sorry, I don't believe this at all. Huckabee, more than ANY Republican candidate talks about expanding the federal government, funding this program or that one.


cut taxes 94 times

And raised them (and his explanations are unconvincing to me, though I am, like most of us, unfamiliar with his whole budget such that I can really he had other things to cut to make room for those roads and schools).


I'm not sure how much more conservative you can get.

Well, he could, as stated above, reject federal involvement in schools, public housing, medical care ... that would be a good start.

Oh, and another thing that REALLY bugs me about Huckabee is when he said as governor that homeschooling should be allowed "because it works." NO. A conservative says government has no right to restrict the homeschooling rights of parents, and whether the government thinks it works is irrelevant.

Huckabee is the LEAST conservative Republican in the race, for my money.

Posted by: pudge on January 27, 2008 11:03 PM
29. TB: McCain is one of the few people in this country who can claim to have been shown correct on almost everything having to do with Iraq since we invaded. I wouldn't be so quick to judge him harshly ...

Posted by: pudge on January 27, 2008 11:05 PM
30. Poll time: How many of you that oppose McCain, or hold him in disdain, have served in the Armed Forces? Serious Question.

Posted by: Aaron on January 27, 2008 11:31 PM
31. Not me. Why would that matter?

Posted by: Tim on January 27, 2008 11:46 PM
32. Pudge, Huckabee could, " reject federal involvement in schools, public housing, medical care ... that would be a good start."

Does that mean Romney's cutting back of education spending in MA while raising taxes and fees in order to start up a quasi-public housing project and provide for cheap abortions is a conservative idea?

Huckabee wants to get rid of the IRS, that's like 2 gold stars. Taxing production rather than spending, there's a liberal idea. The man has to get 2 gold stars for this conservative position - in the long-term it would do wonders.

But you kind of hit the nail on the head, IF Romney was the conservative he wants us to believe he is, there's something, but really if you go by what they have done rather than what they are now saying to get elected, Romney is the most liberal of the candidates.

Posted by: Doug on January 28, 2008 12:00 AM
33. pudge @ 29: As quick as he's harshly judged Romney, you mean? Look, they were both hedging. They're politicians... they do that. But one is being a real hypocrite about it.

Romney is hands-down my first choice at this point (after my first two "first choices" dropped out), but I'll concede that the idea of "secret" benchmarks is a little naive. (I'm reminded of Ben Franklin's observation that "Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.") But he had the right general idea in not advertising a withdrawal timetable to AQI. McCain 1) gave no indication of an intent to keep it hush-hush, and (much more significantly) 2) is now trying to rip on Romney for advocating secret timetables when he was himself opening the door to public timetables.

McCain has been good on Iraq -- good for him; that's one issue -- but he's still a loose cannon rolling around on the gun deck. If he'd had his way, we would likely have sent ground troops into Kosovo, which is one war that I will still assert that 1) was solved by diplomacy, and 2) could have been solved by diplomacy without the bombing, since all you had to do was get the Russians to tell Slobodan to knock it off. How many Americans would have died in Kosovo?

And speaking of American ground troops in the Balkans...

Aaron @ 30: Me, for starters. Eight years USAR, including an all-expense-paid surprise vacation to Bosneyland. What's your point? I have no beef with his professional record until after he got out of the Navy. But he's not running for the office of commander of VA-174; he's running for POTUS. And that's a whole different ball of wax.

Posted by: TB on January 28, 2008 12:18 AM
34. Mitt Romney is unelectable.
Count them, not one but two incidents of "whispers" in the Florida debate. And immediately after both, he repeats the whispered words.
We don't need Manchurian Mitt in the White House.

As painful as this is to say, I would sooner vote Hillary than Romney.

Huckabee is clearly the most consistent, most conservative, most able to beat the Clinton machine.

Posted by: zapporo on January 28, 2008 05:32 AM
35. Yet, short of a race narrowing down to a choice between McCain and Mike Huckabee for the GOP nod, I'm inclined to not only vote for my preference of Mitt Romney, but against John McCain at all costs.

Funny, I feel the same way, but replace "preference of Mitt Romney" with "preference for John McCain" and "Against John McCain" to "against Mitt Romney."

Posted by: cliff on January 28, 2008 06:34 AM
36. Aaron & TB.
For myself. I served in Nam as a Dustoff Medic. (57th medevac)
My job was to rescue men like McCain when shot down and take out the wounded.
But let's get to the point on McCain. His service time before being a POW is poor to say the least.
He used his daddy's name to get him thru flight school and from then on. His record as a pilot sucks and had it not been for his name he would have not been flying fighters.
You can't name anything that he did during that time. Now as a POW I phrase him left and right.
But I don't want him as Prez.

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on January 28, 2008 06:36 AM
37. Pudge at #26:

Regarding McCain's initial opposition to the Bush tax cuts, you say "I think McCain was right on the tax cuts, for two reasons. First, if McCain had his way, we would have had tax cuts AND spending cuts."

You're referring to McCain's current explanation of his opposition to the tax cuts. But at the time of the tax cuts themselves, McCain provided a different rationale for his opposition (if I recall correctly the only other GOP senator to vote against the tax cuts was Lincoln Chafee). McCain's rhetoric at the time was to criticize the tax cuts because they were tax cuts for the rich - this line of argument further endeared him to the liberal elite media and augmented their view of him as an anti-Bush maverick.

McCain had also used similar arguments in his 2000 GOP primary debates with Bush.

At http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=24421 Human Events has the "top ten" McCain quotes from the 2000 GOP primary campaign (including from debates with then Texas Governor George W. Bush) and from 2001 to 2003 as he played to the liberal elite media railing about "tax cuts for the rich."

You can click on the above Human Events link to read the "top ten" quotes for yourself. The first six on the Human Events website are particularly interesting, since they are from McCain's previous campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. Here's a sampling:

"I don't think the governor's tax cut is too big--it's just misplaced. Sixty percent of the benefits from his tax cuts go to the wealthiest 10% of Americans--and that's not the kind of tax relief that Americans need. ... Gov. Bush wants to spend the entire surplus on tax cuts. I don't believe the wealthiest 10% of Americans should get 60% of the tax breaks. I think the lowest 10% should get the breaks. ... I'm not giving tax cuts for the rich." -- Discussion with media, reported in "Bush, McCain Snip Over Tax Cut Plans," Los Angeles Times, and "GOP Rivals Bicker on Taxes," Washington Post, Jan. 5, 2000.

We need a presidential candidate who can take on the class warfare rhetoric of the Democratic nominee. Given the similarity of McCain's rhetoric to that of the likely Democratic nominees, McCain would not be the best candidate to clearly contrast and debate this issue.

Likewise, regarding aggressive questioning of terrorists, McCain's line of argument has also often been geared to appeal to the sentiments and leanings of the liberal media. The best critique of McCain's view on aggressive questioning of terrorists was a 2005 article in the Weekly Standard. I've posted here on the Public Blog, and it can also be accessed online at http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/400rhqav.asp

(I will post separately on the question of whether it is fair and accurate to describe McCain's position on illegal immigration as "pro-amnesty.")

If it comes down to McCain vs. Clinton (or Obama), I would certainly vote for McCain despite my disagreements with him on some important issues. But McCain is not the best choice to be the GOP nominee. And among the four major remaining GOP candidates, he would not make the best president.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 06:40 AM
38. Steve B

Frankly, none of us know what McCain will govern like. But he loves to kiss up to the Dem's & MSN.
I'm so worried that if he did make it, were looking at Bush III.
He can talk spending all day, because he has never had to meet a budget or speak to the American people.

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on January 28, 2008 06:56 AM
39. Pudge at #26 - regarding illegal immigration and "amnesty"

The unpopularity of the McCain-Kennedy bill has led virtually all of its supporters to avoid the use of the word amnesty. They say "it's not amnesty!."

Although McCain now claims his position does not amount to amnesty, he is on record as openly calling for amnesty, and openly using the word "amnesty" to describe his own position. For example, see the following quote from the Tucson Citizen:

" 'Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens. That has to be a component of it,' he said. 'How can we have a temporary worker program if we're not allowing people who have been here for 30 years to hold jobs here?.... I believe we can pursue the security programs and at the same time set up a system where people can come here and work on a temporary basis. I think we can set up a program where amnesty is extended to a certain number of people who are eligible and at the same time make sure that we have some control over people who come in and out of this country,' he said." (C. T. Revere, "McCain Pushes Amnesty, Guest-Worker Program," Tucson Citizen, 5/29/03)

The public outcry that defeated McCain-Kennedy is a powerful force, and it would be a big mistake (in my opinion) to select a candidate who was the leader in trying to fight for its passage. The issue is which GOP candidate would make the best president, and which GOP candidate has the best policies. Who will be the best in defeating Islamic fascism, stopping illegal immigration, and cutting wasteful spending?

Because illegal immigration leads to massive wasteful spending on benefits for illegal aliens, it is not surprising that many fiscal conservatives don't put McCain at the top of their preference list. And because weak border security and amnesty have severe national defense and homeland security implications in a time of war, it is not surprising that many national security conservatives don't put McCain at the top of their preference list.

No doubt, McCain is sincere in his pro-amnesty views, and if elected president would use all his skills, power, and abilities to fight for policies along the lines of McCain-Kennedy.

This fall the debate is going to be about maintaining our victory strategy in the war against terrorism, and it will also be about the economy. Illegal immigration will also be an important issue in November. And in many ways, it overlaps the issues of war and the economy, and cannot be separated from those issues.

Whether the Democrats nominate Clinton, Obama, or Edwards, many national security conservatives and fiscal conservatives would like to see a GOP candidate who can directly challenge the pro-amnesty position of the Democrats.
Illegal immigration hurts the economy, and leads to wasteful spending; weak border security and amnesty hurts the war effort.

Because of his own pro-amnesty stance, McCain is not the best candidate to win that debate.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 06:57 AM
40. Army Medic/Vet at #37:

You're correct that we can't be absolutely certain how McCain would govern. But his tendency to seek adoration from the liberal elite media is one indicator.

With regard to border security and illegal immigration policy, where I disagree sharply with McCain, I have to consider his past advocacy as a guide to how he would govern.

I believe that McCain, if elected president, would use all his skills, power, and abilities to fight for policies along the lines of McCain-Kennedy.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 07:02 AM
41. I believe that McCain, if elected president, would use all his skills, power, and abilities to fight for policies along the lines of McCain-Kennedy.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Steve: That scares the heck out of me.
ANYTHING with Kennedy on it would be bad for this nation!
Worse of all, let's say Mccain got in a followed the same path as GW or worse. This would so hurt the REP party for a long time.

We have had enought of RINO's

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on January 28, 2008 08:27 AM
42. Army Medic/Vet at #41 - you have good reason to be severely concerned about McCain's weak position on illegal immigration and border security. I've pointed out how McCain's pro-amnesty stance cuts across his claim to be the best opponent of "wasteful spending," but it also strikes at what McCain claims to be his strength - national security.

The next GOP debate is Wednesday night on CNN, and Politico.com is asking voters to submit questions to the candidates. I submitted the following three questions:

next debate - three questions for John McCain
Steve Beren, Seattle WA 98102 - January 26, 2008

(on the economy) Senator McCain, you claim to be a fiscal conservative, but this is contradicted by your sponsorship of the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill. The presence of twelve million illegal immigrants depresses the wages of American workers, hurts the economy, and burdens the taxpayers. How can you claim to be a fiscal conservative when your pro-amnesty stance would lead to massive wasteful spending on benefits for illegal aliens?

(on national security) Senator McCain, I am a national security conservative. Your national security credentials are contradicted by your sponsorship of the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill. In a time of war, the American people want secure borders, respect for the rule of law, and defense of our national sovereignty. Especially in this post 9/11 world, don't you realize that weak border security and your pro-amnesty stance endanger our national defense and hurt the war against Islamic terrorism?

(on immigration) Senator McCain, I am a fiscal conservative and a national security conservative. How can you claim to be a fiscal conservative when your pro-amnesty stance would lead to massive wasteful spending on benefits for illegal aliens? And especially in this post 9/11 world, don't you realize that weak border security and your pro-amnesty stance endanger our national defense and hurt the war against Islamic terrorism?

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 09:23 AM
43. Doug at #9, that is a good analogy, but after Iowa and New Hampshire, the creator of the Double Talk Express said quite publicly with his soulmate, Huckabee, that the age of negative politics doesn't work when Romney went supposedly negative and lost.

So, Mr. Doug, why is Mr. Double Talk now allowed to lie and go ballistic? A straight talker would stand his ground. Mr. Doug, a Doubletalker would condemn his opponent out of one side of his mouth and then go out and do the same thing. McCain is a Doubletalker.

Posted by: swatter on January 28, 2008 09:35 AM
44. Swatter, McCain's allowed to, but surely he has to understand that he is making his bed and will have to lie in it. It was very well known that Iowa and NH hates negative campaigning. I have no idea about Florida, is that different?

I saw on tv somewhere someone was saying the Floridians can be bought (i.e. Mitt throwing his money at TV ads there) but I haven't heard from anyone if Floridians are more comfortable with negative campaigning as opposed to Iowa and NH.

Steve Beren, keep spouting your anti-immigration views, a recent poll shows that in Florida only 12% of the republican voters were basing their vote on that - pretty much in line with the rest of the exit polls. I really think the anti-immigration issue only practically affects about 12-13% of the Republican primary voters, while at the same time 10% of them are voting pro-'amnesty'.

Posted by: Doug on January 28, 2008 10:16 AM
45. Doug @ 32: "Does that mean Romney's cutting back of education spending in MA while raising taxes and fees in order to start up a quasi-public housing project and provide for cheap abortions is a conservative idea?"

I am not claiming Romney is the conservative ideal (if he were, I'd be fully supporting him, instead of still trying to decide whom to support :-).


"Huckabee wants to get rid of the IRS, that's like 2 gold stars."

Fine. But he wants to use the money he does have for many things I don't want, which will either increase the deficit or require new taxes. That's minus two stars.


"really if you go by what they have done rather than what they are now saying to get elected, Romney is the most liberal of the candidates."

I don't agree. Huckabee and Giuliani give him a run for his money. McCain clearly has, by far, the most conservative record out of the four remaining candidates. But between all of them, what they are saying NOW, Huckabee is quite clearly, by far, the least conservative candidate, if you don't factor in social issues. If you do, then maybe he's tied with Giuliani.

TB @ 33: "I'll concede that the idea of 'secret' benchmarks is a little naive."

Eh, I don't think so. This sort of thing happens in diplomacy all the time. Remember a couple of summers ago when the Democrats found a general who supported benchmarks/timetables? What they didn't understand when they started guffawing at how he contradicted Bush is that he was not talking about making those things PUBLIC, which was Bush's main point about why they are bad in the first place.

Posted by: pudge on January 28, 2008 10:26 AM
46. From Meet the Press this weekend:

"MR. RUSSERT: If the Senate passed your bill, S1433, the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Bill...

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: ...would you as president sign it?

SEN. McCAIN: Yeah, but we--look, the lesson is it isn't won. It isn't going to come. It isn't going to come. The lesson is they want the border secured first. That's the lesson. I come from a border state. I know how to fix those borders with walls, with UAVs, with sensors, with cameras, with vehicle barriers. They want the border secured first. And I will do that, and, as president, I will have the border state governors secure--certify those borders are secured. And then we will have a temporary worker program with tamper-proof biometric documents, and any employer who employs someone in any other circumstances will be prosecuted. That means a lot of people will leave just, just normally because they're not going to be able to get their job. Then, of course, we have to get rid of two million people who have committed crimes here. We have to round them up and deport them. As far as the others are concerned, we were in an ongoing debate and discussion when this whole thing collapsed, and part of that, I think, has to be a humane approach. Part of it has to be maybe people have to go back to the country that they came from for a period of time while we look at it. But the principle that the American people want, secure the borders, reward no one ahead of someone who has either waited or has come to this country legally because they have broken our laws to come here. But I'm confident--look, there's, there's humanitarian situations. There's a soldier who's missing in action in Iraq. His wife was here illegally. America's not going to deport her. We have humanitarian circumstances. America's a generous Judeo-Christian valued nation, and we can sit down together. The--all leading Republican candidates now just about agree that with--using those principles that I just articulated, we can fix it. But secure the borders first.

MR. RUSSERT: But you would sign your bill...

SEN. McCAIN: It's not going to come across my desk.

MR. RUSSERT: It won't pass.

SEN. McCAIN: I--if pigs fly, then--look...

MR. RUSSERT: So it's dead.

SEN. McCAIN: The bill, the bill is dead as it is written. We know that. We know that. And the bill is going to have to be, and I would sign it, securing the borders first and articulating those principles that I did. That's what we got out of this last very divisive and tough debate. And we have to get those borders secured. That's what Americans want first."

I wouldn't trust McCain across the street.

Posted by: NW Denizen on January 28, 2008 10:37 AM
47. Steve Beren @ #37, regarding the Bush tax cuts that McCain opposed. I'm not sure why people think that the lowest income people did not get a tax cut. They got a 33 1/3% tax cut for the first $6000 of taxable income for Singles or the first $12,000 of taxable income for Marrieds. The bottom rate was 15% prior to the 2001 tax cuts but a 10% bottom tax rate was added by EGTRA 2001.

Granted, for those at the top of the 15% tax bracket, the cut was only about 7.5% (Singles), or 9% (Marrieds). But to say they got nothing is missing the addition of the 10% tax bracket that didn't EXIST before EGTRA 2001.

Also, if one is looking to stimulate the economy, Supply-Side Economics says the cuts need to be focused at the top marginal rates, not the lowest. Sure cutting the lower rates is good to reduce the "take" of the Federal Government, but has very little Supply-Side impact. There was just a very good article by Arthur Laffer in Friday's Wall Street Journal that is a good primer for those interested in learning more about Supply-Side Economics from one of the inventors of it--you need a WSJ subscription to open this.
WSJ Article

The timing of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts was terrific, since we were in a recession in early 2001 (recall that the Stock Market started dropping in MARCH of 2000, with the bursting of the dot com bubble) plus the events of 9/11/2001. It was not good that McCain was not on board for those tax cuts.


Posted by: Bill H on January 28, 2008 10:44 AM
48. Steve Beren @ 37/39/40:

"You're referring to McCain's current explanation of his opposition to the tax cuts ... McCain's rhetoric at the time was to criticize the tax cuts because they were tax cuts for the rich"

No, I mentioned that, starting with "Second, he is right that it was too heavily geared toward the top end."

Now, if you want to talk rhetoric, I agree, his rhetoric is often poor. But I am trying to look at actual policies, actions, and votes, as much as possible, and where rhetoric is all we have (such as here, to explain his vote against), to look at the underlying facts. And McCain was right (at least in significant part): Bush's tax cut didn't even go as far for the bottom end as he himself said it would!


"Likewise, regarding aggressive questioning of terrorists, McCain's line of argument has also often been geared to appeal to the sentiments and leanings of the liberal media. The best critique of McCain's view on aggressive questioning of terrorists was a 2005 article in the Weekly Standard."

As I noted in response to your posting of the article over there, it is clear misrepresentation to say that McCain is for "torture, never." He has explicitly stated that in the "Jack Bauer" doomsday scenario, torture would still be acceptable. Here's an example from our own Seattle Times:

Sen. John McCain, who pushed the White House to support a ban on torture, suggested Sunday that harsh treatment of a terrorism suspect who knew of an imminent attack would not violate international standards. ...

Asked on ABC's "This Week" whether such treatment of a terrorism suspect who could reveal information that could stop a terrorist operation would shock the conscience, McCain said it would not.

"In that million-to-one situation, then the president of the United States would authorize it and take responsibility for it," McCain said.

"Although McCain now claims his position does not amount to amnesty, he is on record as openly calling for amnesty, and openly using the word 'amnesty' to describe his own position."

Again, I am not a fan of McCain's use of rhetoric. But traditionally, "amnesty" means "forgetting." It comes from the same root as "amnesia," the Greek "amnestia." McCain's plan cannot be characterized properly as "torture" using the definition we've mostly used most of our history.

Of course, meanings of words change over time. But you can't do it by fiat, by force of will. It has to be accepted by consensus for it to become "the" definition. And so right now we are stuck in a situation where this one word has multiple, conflicting, meanings even in the same context. This means that the word is unuseful because it doesn't tell us what is actually in the plan.

The whole point of words is to convey information. If I say I see a red ball, you know that I am referring to something that primarily reflects light in the general wavelength range of 625-740 nm, and is essentially spherical. It is easier to say "red ball." And since we all know what that means, it is good, effective, communication.

Generally, in this context, we mostly do not all know, or agree, on what "amnesty" means. So using the word does not convey accurate information about McCain's views. It's therefore wasteful and useless to use the word ... unless you are trying to use it to do something other than conveying accurate information about his views, such as triggering an emotional response.

"You're correct that we can't be absolutely certain how McCain would govern. But his tendency to seek adoration from the liberal elite media is one indicator."

Except that most of the time he was "seeking adoration" he also had a very high conservative rating from the ACU. So no, I don't think it is any such indicator at all. Like it or not, it is McCain and people like him who make conservative policies palatable to the "liberal elite media" and others.

Posted by: pudge on January 28, 2008 10:50 AM
49. Doug at #44 - you say, "Steve Beren, keep spouting your anti-immigration views," distorting my pro-immigration position in much the same way the liberal elite puts the "anti-immigration" label on anyone who suuports legal immigration but opposes amnesty.

This is par for the course for the mainstream media and the supporters of Edwards, Obama, and Clinton. The GOP needs a candidate who does not distort the views of sincere people who support strong border security, favor legal immigration, and oppose amnesty because it leads to wasteful spending on benefits for illegal aliens.

Yes, McCain and some of his supporters have sometimes implied that opponents of the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill are "nativist," "restrictionist," "anti-immigration," "xenophobic," "prejudiced against Mexicans," or even "racist."

But that type of abrasive and dishonest hyperbole only adds to the case that McCain is not the best person to represent the GOP in November.

My pro-immigration, anti-amnesty stance is a matter of record. As I say at http://www.steveberen.com/1220769.html:

"I'm a descendant of legal immigrants. All four of my grandparents, and five of my great-grandparents, were legal immigrants from Europe. They played by the book, enduring delay and bureaucracy and hardship and sacrificed, but they played by the book. They loved America before setting foot in America, they longed for freedom and opportunity. Above all, they would never do anything to violate or circumvent the laws of this great nation. So, looking at today's illegal immigration situation, I know how unfair it is to those who've played by the rules."

And as I said during my 2006 congressional campaign (see www.berenforcongress.com/border.html):

"Legal immigration is better for the immigrants themselves. Illegal immigration means exploitation and existence in a permanent underclass; legal immigration means fair pay and better benefits.

"Legal immigration is better for the American economy. Legal immigrants pay taxes and contribute to society, earning their share of social services. Illegal immigrants live on the margins, while their social services are paid for by working class and middle class Americans.

"Legal immigration is better for the culture and well-being of the nation. Legal immigrants play by the rules, learn English, and seek to become law-abiding citizens. Illegal immigrants start off on the wrong foot, breaking our immigration laws right off the bat, and are more likely to be mixed up in smuggling, gang activity, welfare fraud, identity theft, and other anti-social behavior."

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 10:56 AM
50. Bill H:

The tax cuts of 2003 did not lower taxes for those in the 10 percent bracket, who were single, had no dependents, and had no capital gains. Bush said through the process to get the 2003 tax cut through, that there was a cut for every income taxpayer. There wasn't, that I can find.

But yes, you're right that they had previously gotten a tax cut in the 2001 package.

Posted by: pudge on January 28, 2008 10:56 AM
51. Bill H, in regards to your facts on the low income people's 'tax cut'. You forgot to put in there the standard deductions. The point being that the lowest income people were not taxed beforehand, therefore, they didn't get a tax cut, that's how I understand that situation. Also, your timing of the recession is off, the 2000 recession didn't start until after the primaries was over - McCain running against the tax cuts was good at that time, not so good later.

Huckabee, whom I think would be a pretty good President, pretty much said it best in relation to the current 'stimulus package'. Like you alluded to, giving money to the lower middle class isn't in the best interest of stimulating the economy. If the money goes to people who are going to go out and spend it right away on imported goods, whose economy is the stimulus package supposed to help?

At least the Fed is stepping in to cut interest rates, that's what will work. The business elective expense on capital depreciable assets is so high right now, that Romney's and Bush's plan to speed up depreciation on capital investment for small businesses, really won't do a lick of good.

Posted by: Doug on January 28, 2008 11:09 AM
52. For me the anti-McCain moment came from MCCain himself. When he stood up in front of the Senate and said Americans are too lazy to pick lettuce for $50/hr that is when he was crossed off my list. Yeah he served his country, so did I. Kudos for his service but it isn't a free ticket to the white house. And for the record, Benedict Arnold served too, though I am not comparing McCain to Arnold - at least not on strictly military related issues.

Illegal immigration is an invasion of this nation. It is a national defense issue. If our borders are so porous that illegals can get in, what's to stop AQ with WMD?

Posted by: pbj on January 28, 2008 11:13 AM
53. Steve Beren at #49.

It sounds to me then that you would agree that there is a shortage of legal immigrant workers in the United States, roughly 12,000,000 short and that we need to immediately increase legal immigration by 12 million in order to supply the needs of the economy. - assuming that the 12 million number is right for illegal immigrant workers.

Are you pro-immigration enough to see that we have a shortage of legal immigrant workers of upwards of 12,000,000?

Posted by: Doug on January 28, 2008 11:15 AM
54. An "undocumented immigrant" is like an "unapproved bank withdrawal".

Posted by: pbj on January 28, 2008 11:17 AM
55. If McCain somehow gets the nomination, this Conservative will NEVER vote for him.

He doesn't have the temperament, or the required judgement. In a word - he's dangerous.

I'm not willing to get mt hands bloody by voting for an irascible, petulant clown such as McCain.

Wake up, America.

Posted by: Jefferson Paine on January 28, 2008 11:23 AM
56. Pudge at #48 - Even if we strip away the terms "anti-immigration" and "pro-amnesty" from the debate, we are left with the fact that there is a major and controversial debate in this country on how best to deal with illegal immigration.

On the one hand, Kennedy and McCain, supported by Obama, Edwards, and Clinton, can be said to support the McCain-Kennedy approach and therefore be "pro-McCain-Kennedy" (I realize that some liberals and some Democrats, while favoring McCain-Kennedy, felt it didn't go far enough in allowing benefits and/or a path to citizenship.

On the other hand, most Republican members of congress, most conservative writers and talk show hosts, and a big segment of the American people (as reflected in the public outcry that killed the McCain-Kenedy) can be said to be "anti-McCain-Kennedy."

I don't agree with McCain's views on illegal immigration - however they are labeled. We need a presidential nominee who can sharply debate the Democratic nominee on the issue of border security, amnesty, open borders, and wasteful spending on benefits for illegal aliens.

McCain is not the best person to represent the Republican party in that debate.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 11:32 AM
57. Doug at #53:

If we assume there are twelve million illegal immigrants, it also must be recognized that many of these are the non-working family members (including many children) of the illegal workers. So even at the high end, the amount of necessary legal immigrant workers is far less than twelve million.

Moreover, I recommend the just published book "The Immigration Solution" by Heather Mac Donald, Victor Davis Hanson, and Steven Malanga, with an introduction by Myron Magnet.

This superb book demolishes many common fallacies in the conventional wisdom about issues such as labor shortages in certain industries.

For example, the book makes an excellent, comprehensive, and cogent argument that the use of cheap illegal labor in the agricultural industry blocks innovation and technological improvements, such as labor-saving mechanization.

The heavy use of cheap illegal labor, therefore, threatens to put American agriculture at a competitive disadvantage in relation to other countries (due to the failure to adequately develop less labor-intensive, more efficient, more productive agricultural methods).

To order "The Immigration Solution," go to Amazon.com.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 11:44 AM
58. So you are not pro-immigration, what does that make you? You continue to claim that cheap immigration labor is bad for this countries' businesses. You are very hard up in a way that is clearly anti-immigrant.

If the number of illegal immigrants who are workers are far less, the country still would have to import an equal number when they bring in legal immigrant workers.

I ask you if this country's workforce is short on cheap legal immigrant workers. It is obviously true that we are when we have so many illegal immigrant workers filling that niche.

Are you pro-immigrant enough to admit that the U.S. hasn't been bringing in enough legal immigrant workers to fill the country's needs?

Posted by: Doug on January 28, 2008 11:55 AM
59. I couldn't agree more with many on this post, who since they have solid core values refuse to compromise them and vote for a snake. I will not vote for John ever. Hopefully we have a brokered convention and a real leader we can trust will rise. John is NOT that person.

Posted by: pbs7mm on January 28, 2008 11:56 AM
60. Pudge at #48 - regarding McCain's position on aggressive questioning of terrorists, note the just the final four short paragraphs of Krauthammer's article:

WHICH BRINGS US to the greatest irony of all in the torture debate. I have just made what will be characterized as the pro-torture case contra McCain by proposing two major exceptions carved out of any no-torture rule: the ticking time bomb and the slow-fuse high-value terrorist. McCain supposedly is being hailed for defending all that is good and right and just in America by standing foursquare against any inhuman treatment. Or is he?

According to Newsweek, in the ticking time bomb case McCain says that the president should disobey the very law that McCain seeks to pass--under the justification that "you do what you have to do. But you take responsibility for it." But if torturing the ticking time bomb suspect is "what you have to do," then why has McCain been going around arguing that such things must never be done?

As for exception number two, the high-level terrorist with slow-fuse information, Stuart Taylor, the superb legal correspondent for National Journal, argues that with appropriate legal interpretation, the "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" standard, "though vague, is said by experts to codify . . . the commonsense principle that the toughness of interrogation techniques should be calibrated to the importance and urgency of the information likely to be obtained." That would permit "some very aggressive techniques . . . on that small percentage of detainees who seem especially likely to have potentially life-saving information." Or as Evan Thomas and Michael Hirsh put it in the Newsweek report on McCain and torture, the McCain standard would "presumably allow for a sliding scale" of torture or torture-lite or other coercive techniques, thus permitting "for a very small percentage--those High Value Targets like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed--some pretty rough treatment."

But if that is the case, then McCain embraces the same exceptions I do, but prefers to pretend he does not. If that is the case, then his much-touted and endlessly repeated absolutism on inhumane treatment is merely for show. If that is the case, then the moral preening and the phony arguments can stop now, and we can all agree that in this real world of astonishingly murderous enemies, in two very circumscribed circumstances, we must all be prepared to torture. Having established that, we can then begin to work together to codify rules of interrogation for the two very unpleasant but very real cases in which we are morally permitted--indeed morally compelled--to do terrible things.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 11:56 AM
61. Pudge, for the 2003 tax bill, I believe you are right--I think the only savings was the (slight) increase in the tax brackets. They had gotten their full tax break in the 2001 bill, while the higher tax brackets were being phased in. You would think they would have learned from Reagan's 1981 tax cuts that economically it is better to have tax brackets change immediately rather than to phase them in. That's why the economy took off so much more after the 2003 Act than following the 2001 Act.

Doug, I'm not sure what you think I got wrong about the recession. I said that it started in early 2001 (I believe that is correct) and that the Dot Com bubble burst in March of 2000 (I'm pretty sure about that since I remember the bottom falling out of the NASDAQ at the time).

As for those who have no taxable income not getting a tax cut--that is certainly true. I don't think a conservative would suggest that a tax "cut" should be given to those NOT paying taxes--seems to me that is just welfare.

I'm with you on the questionable impact of the "stimulus" package though--as someone said, it is a "re-election stimulous" rather than an "economic stimulus"!

You also said "At least the Fed is stepping in to cut interest rates, that's what will work." I hope you're right, but I am a bit worried about the inflationary impact. Gold and oil prices are sky-high and the European Central Bank is not following Bernanke's lead on cutting rates. Bernanke has two goals he has to try to meet because of Humphrey-Hawkins--low inflation and economic growth. The rate cuts are meant to address the latter--the lack of follow-on by the European Central bank suggests they are concerned about the inflationary impacts. We'll see

Posted by: Bill H on January 28, 2008 11:56 AM
62. Doug #58 - my pro-immigration, anti-amnesty stance means I support legal immigration and oppose illegal immigration. The precise number of legal immigrants needed will vary from time to time, depending on the state of the American economy and its various industries.

As I pointed out in #57, excessive reliance on cheap illegal labor in the agricultural industry blocks innovation and technological improvements, such as labor-saving mechanization. More efficient, less labor-intensive methods of agriculture production and mechanization could further reduce the amount of labor needed, would have related benefits to the consumer, and would create a better competitive position for American agriculture.

It would be great to have an entire separate thread on the book "The Immigration Solution."

Meanwhile, supporters of the McCain-Kennedy approach have a wide range of candidates (four Democrats, one Republican) they can support.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 12:10 PM
63. Pudge, I commend your for fighting the good fight.

However, Straight Talk About the Straight-Talker: John McCain Lacks Integrity
By Henry Mark Holzer on January 28, 2008

While McCain's lack of integrity in the MIA investigation is so dramatic because of his own military and POW background, there are other examples which are equally important and disturbing.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on January 28, 2008 12:44 PM
64. Getting this thread back on the subject of McCain's dishonest accusations regarding Romney's Iraq stance, here are some excerpts from Rich Lowry's article from late last night:

McCain's Dishonest Attack [Rich Lowry]

As I've said before, McCain deserves a large part of the credit for the surge--he pushed to have it implemented both in his public advocacy and his behind-the-scenes lobbying of the Bush administration, and he has been its foremost defender.... This is a perfectly legitimate issue for McCain to raise....

But that doesn't justify the rank dishonesty of his attack on Romney over the weekend. It's so shamelessly unfair, it's the kind of thing you'd expect of Bill Clinton attacking Barack Obama. Clearly, McCain wants to change the topic from the economy. And since he's suffering from his "straight-talk" about his relative lack of knowledge of and interest in the economy, he's trying to compensate with the opposite of straight talk--blatant distortions--about Romney's record.

....McCain may feel entitled to this cheap shot given his own courage on the surge. He also might think that his press coverage is so adoring that he can get away with anything, and Romney is so firmly branded as a "flip-flopper" that any charge will stick. But I think something else is going on. McCain has always given the impression of reserving his true scorn for his enemies within his own party. I have a hard time imagining McCain making this kind of dishonest accusation against a Democrat--it would be uncivil and dishonorable. But making it against a fellow Republican running to his right? No problem. On top of this, there's the personal animosity McCain feels toward Romney. Indeed, in one of those debates in New Hampshire, McCain spoke warmly of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at the same time he was giving off waves of hatred toward Romney.

....But I wouldn't be surprised if it back-fires on McCain.... His most important political asset is his political character, his reputation for truth-telling and honorable politics. This dishonest low-blow--if it continues to get attention in the closing hours--could chip away at that asset.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 01:13 PM
65. Steve Beren @ 56/60:

Even if we strip away the terms "anti-immigration" and "pro-amnesty" from the debate, we are left with the fact that there is a major and controversial debate in this country on how best to deal with illegal immigration.

Sure. And I already said, I have strong disagreements with McCain on immigration. As I said before, I just disagree with the characterization of "open borders" and find the word "amnesty" to be a poor word choice.

Regarding the end of the Krauthammer article, thank you for highlighting this portion, I missed it when I skimmed initially.

According to Newsweek, in the ticking time bomb case McCain says that the president should disobey the very law that McCain seeks to pass--under the justification that "you do what you have to do. But you take responsibility for it." But if torturing the ticking time bomb suspect is "what you have to do," then why has McCain been going around arguing that such things must never be done?

It is something you only have to do under those extreme one-in-a-million scenarios. We should not write our laws for the rare exceptions. We usually do not write in our law, "don't jaywalk, unless you're trying to capture a murderer," or "don't shoot the President, unless that is the only way to prevent the Earth from crashing into the sun."


But if that is the case, then McCain embraces the same exceptions I do, but prefers to pretend he does not.

No. The issue is simply whether it should be codified in the law. As a conservative, I am naturally distrustful of government, which means that I believe if we put the rare exceptions into the law, they are much more likely to be abused, whereas if we leave them out of the law, no one would refuse to act just because the law says so, if it is really necessary.

Ragnar @ 63:

I am not trying to make McCain out to be a saint. And I may end up voting for Romney. I don't know. I am just out to defend what I think are the facts, as best as I see them. I've defended Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Fred Thompson ... even Rudy and Huck on occasion. It's about truth for me (not that I am infallible), so I won't give up. :-)

As I've stated several times above, I dislike much of McCain's use of rhetoric, and I disagree with him strongly on many issues. That said, his voting record and consistent policies on the two most important issues to me -- cutting spending and foreign policy -- along with his voting record on abortion are still very good, from my perspective. It doesn't mean I'll vote for him, or that I can't see his many flaws.

That reminds me ... I even defended John Kerry back in 2003/2004 when he voted against the funding of the troops. People who said he opposed the funding were wrong. ALL evidence -- including statements at the time, and his own proposed amendment -- points to him opposing the METHOD of funding, not the funding itself. I disagreed with Kerry, and the last thing in the world I wanted was for him to win, but I still defended him from against I thought was untrue attacks.

Call it a character flaw.

I stopped defending him, though, when he shot himself in the foot with that idiotic "I voted for it before I voted against it" line. Some people are beyond help.

Posted by: pudge on January 28, 2008 01:23 PM
66. Pudge at #65:

You say, "I have strong disagreements with McCain on immigration. As I said before, I just disagree with the characterization of 'open borders' and find the word 'amnesty' to be a poor word choice."

Fair enough. And since you also say, "I am not trying to make McCain out to be a saint. And I may end up voting for Romney. I don't know," I will also point out that I would vote for McCain against any of the Democrats, despite my own strong disagreements with McCain.

I haven't endorsed anyone yet. That being said, if it comes down to McCain, Huckabee, and Romney on February 9, I would caucus for Romney.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 01:41 PM
67. Steve & pudge.

Have you heard two of the people who advising McCain are open borders supporters!

Goggle (Jerry Perewchio) The owner of Univison (mexican cable TV)

This makes me sick!

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on January 28, 2008 02:07 PM
68. Army Medic/Vet at #67 - McCain would be a weak candidate, unable to successfully debate the Democratic candidate's positions on amnesty and global warming.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 02:12 PM
69. Army M/V--Juan Hernandez is McCain's "Hispanic Outreach" Director. You have probably seen him on Fox News--in favor of open borders. He makes my skin crawl when I have listened to him--smooth talker who would slip a knife in your back while you're not looking.

Posted by: Bill H on January 28, 2008 02:40 PM
70. More on the subject of McCain's dishonest characterization of Romney's Iraq position, excerpted from http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_012808/content/01125108.guest.html:

RUSH: He levels an allegation about Romney that's just flat not true, and if some organization wanted to run an ad calling him on it they'd be in violation of McCain's reform of campaign finance regulations. What a racket McCain is running. Is that not brilliant? And it's absolutely right. McCain comes out with this lie about Romney in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, and there's no way a Romney camp or group can run an ad on television here in Florida refuting it because you can't do that 30 days before a primary under McCain-Feingold's restrictions on free speech, but the candidates can go out there and say what they want. So Romney had to do the replying himself. He put a video up, and they were quick getting it out....

McCain wants us to believe that Romney was for surrender! This is... (sigh) This is Clintonesque! There's no other way to put this. Here's Romney, this is what he said on April 3rd, 2007, Good Morning America.

ROMNEY: Well, there's no question but that the president and Prime Minister al-Marbling have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about, but those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're going to be gone.

RUSH: That sounds to me like he's against putting timetables on troop withdrawals, and this is something McCain knows. Here's what Romney said on Late Edition, Sunday, responding to this question of whether or not McCain has a point about this.

ROMNEY: No, he doesn't have a point. I've never said that we should have a date certain to withdraw. He knows it. I've been asked that question time again. He's simply being dishonest. He knows that. But he desperately is trying to change the subject because he does not understand the economy, has no experience in the private economy -- and right now that's the biggest issue people are facing so he's doing his best to change topics.

RUSH: Governor Romney has a point there. He didn't rise to the bait, just flat-out denied it. This didn't fly with anybody on Saturday in the mainstream media. In the New York Times, I don't care where you look, AP, they all said, "Wow, this is just not true," and so McCain kept it up on Sunday, Ă  la Clinton: Just keep repeating it as though it's true, hoping people will finally accept it. It's very disappointing.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 02:56 PM
71. McCain's attack on Romney's question depends how you look at it:

Question: Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?

Romney: Well, there's no question - but that the President and - Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement.

Question: So, private? You wouldn't do it publicly because - the President has said flat out that he will veto anything the Congress passes about a timetable for - troop withdrawals. As president, would you do the same?

Romney: Well, could you, yeah - well, of course.

Extraneous stuff removed. Even Roberts believed that when Mitt answered the first question he was saying something along the lines of - Of course there needs to be a timetable for withdrawal - it has to be private, though. Else she wouldn't have asked the follow-up.

The problem with Romney in April was that he still was avoiding the Iraq war issue and obviously wasn't wearying an earpiece. But, it is clear to me that his answers can easily be interpreted that in April Romney supported a private timetable for withdrawal.

I don't really see any problem with that position, assuming all private benchmarks are met and if they aren't met then the timetable is set back.

It's funny to me how Romney is now denying this most reasonable position he had.

Posted by: Doug on January 28, 2008 03:07 PM
72. One of the many things that disturbs me about McCain is a subtle implication that one cannot criticise his positions because of his years as a prisoner of war.

Has anyone noticed that when one takes issue with McCain's positions they feel compelled to preface their remarks with "we do respect Senator McCains military service, blah, blah, blah."?

This is the kind of game liberals play. They played it with John "I served in Vietnam" Kerry four years ago.

Why McCain's history as a POW has to be a constant component of any discussion of his current political positions escapes me.

I expect better of Republicans. Then again I really don't think of McCain as a Republican.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on January 28, 2008 03:46 PM
73. A question for the group: McCain, who gets pretty steamed anytime someone labels his position on illegal immigration as amnesty. Given that, and considering how importnat border security is for our national defense, how carefully should we scrutinize the following quote:

" 'Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens. That has to be a component of it,' he said. 'How can we have a temporary worker program if we're not allowing people who have been here for 30 years to hold jobs here?.... I believe we can pursue the security programs and at the same time set up a system where people can come here and work on a temporary basis. I think we can set up a program where amnesty is extended to a certain number of people who are eligible and at the same time make sure that we have some control over people who come in and out of this country,' he said." (C. T. Revere, "McCain Pushes Amnesty, Guest-Worker Program," Tucson Citizen, 5/29/03)

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 28, 2008 03:51 PM
74. Well, for starters, when McCain is talking amnesty for people living here 20, 30, 40 years illegally why would you complain about that? Isn't the statute of limitation only 10 years for this offense?


I would also agree with McCain's statement that we need to have some control over people who come in and out of this country.

Are you agreeing with him as well?

Posted by: Doug on January 28, 2008 04:03 PM
75. McCain is a failure on the border...and he's unstable psychologically. He lost me alltogether when he chastised those opposing his amnesty policy for illegals as "racist".........sorry Johnny, it's called the rule of law....maybe you should learn it one day. Fit in in between your anger management courses....

You will never get my vote in your lifetime.

Posted by: Rick D on January 28, 2008 08:12 PM
76. The main reason to oppose McCain is not his nastiness toward his fellow Republican candidates though it may give some insight into his character.

The main reason to oppose McCain is his global warming agenda. It would be a disaster for this country. Energy taxes, carbon caps and who know what else McCain would propose in his pursuit of the phantom of carbon neutrality. The government would take control of energy production and consumption and it would be nearly impossible to loosen this stranglehold.

Clinton or Obama as President would also propose programs similiar to McCain's but there are still many Republicans who see how dangerous this energy legislation is and would work fervently to oppose it. I doubt that many would oppose similiar legislation by a Republican President, though they should.

Posted by: Bill K. on January 28, 2008 10:58 PM
77. Excerpts from this morning's George Will column:

Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, the Clintons should bask in the glow of John McCain's Clintonian gloss on this fact: Ten months ago Romney said that President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki should discuss, privately, "a series of timetables and milestones." That unremarkable thought was twisted by McCain, whose distortions are notably clumsy, as when Romney said, accurately, that he alone among the candidates has had extensive experience in private-sector business. That truth was subjected to McCain's sophistry, and he charged that Romney had said "you haven't had a real job" if you had a military career. If, this autumn, voters must choose between Clinton and McCain, they will face, at least stylistically, an echo, not a choice. But that dreary scenario need not come to pass. Romney seems to have found his voice as attention turns to the economy, a subject concerning which McCain seems neither conversant nor eager to become so.... Obama is running against two Clintons -- or one and a fraction of one, given how much she has been diminished by her overbearing spouse. Romney is marginally better off running against a Clinton impersonator.

Posted by: Steve Beren on January 29, 2008 09:01 AM
78. Question: Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?

Romney: Well, there's no question - but that the President and - Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement.

Posted by: Doug on January 29, 2008 09:18 AM
79. Doug, get a grip. Unless you have run or managed a company, you haven't a clue how goals, projects or deadlines are met.

Even building a house with all the myriad of subs requires a lot of timetables and goals to be reached when and at one cost.

McCain hasn't had that experience so he doesn't have a clue, but you should if you have ever run a company.

Posted by: swatter on January 29, 2008 09:29 AM
80. Swatter,

Don't get me wrong, I really believe there should be a plan with timetables that are private (as long as it's flexible enough that if they aren't met, the plan is altered).

I'm just a little bit shocked about how so many people are trying to interpret his words in so many different ways. I'm also a bit shocked the Romney is now denying what really is a good idea (having private timetables with an aim at withdrawal if the benchmarks are met and the benchmarks are adequate indicators of the success of our goals).

I think he should have said, "NO, there should be no timetables for withdrawal, however, there can be timetables to meet benchmarks." But he didn't say that, his words (likely because of bad coaching) came out in a way that seemed like he agreed with the questioner that, no question, there should be a timetable for withdrawal.

Now the Romney supporters and Fox - even Chris Matthews who is salivating at a chance for the Dems to take on Romney, are going nuts telling us that what he said was different.

So, here it is again:

Question: Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?

Romney: Well, there's no question - but that the President and - Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement.

Posted by: Doug on January 29, 2008 10:26 AM
81. btw Swatter, I run two businesses, am an elected official, and have built a house.

Posted by: Doug on January 29, 2008 10:28 AM
82. McCain's ACU Ratings
By Randall Hoven
January 29, 2008

Senator John McCain's lifetime rating of 82.3% from the American Conservative Union is often cited as proof that he is conservative. Here is a closer look at that 82.3 rating.

First, a rating of 82.3 is not really that high. It puts Senator McCain in 39th place among senators serving in 2006, the latest year for which the ACU has its ratings posted online. For that most recent year in particular, McCain scored only 65, putting him in 47th place for that year. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE), for example, scored 64 and 75, respectively, in 2006.

Generally, McCain has voted less conservatively in more recent years. His average for 1990-97 was 88, but was only 74 for 1998-2006. ...

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on January 29, 2008 11:03 AM
83. Regnar, thanks for the link to the American Thinker article. I have been noting the same thing for the last few days! I, too, have been getting tired of people focusing on his "lifetime" ACU rating. As I noted in an earlier thread--"He has been skating on a PAST conservative record for the past ten years--about the time he started cozying up with the MSM in preparation for his run for president in 2000."

I liked the line in the article that said "McCain is like a baseball player who gets all his hits after two outs and no one on base, and all his outs with men in scoring position." Exactly! He has fallen down on the most high profile issues--McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, McCain-Lieberman, tax-cuts, etc.

Posted by: Bill H on January 29, 2008 01:11 PM
84. Lest any of you forget, Obama's rating is 8 and Hillary's is 9.

Don't ever think for a moment that McCain's rating is so low it's not any different than Hillary. When it comes down to it, which would you prefer nominating the next two Supreme Court justices?

Posted by: Doug on January 29, 2008 02:26 PM
85. Yes, but in the past year, the rating was in the mid-60s. He is veering left more and more.

Okay, Doug, in real English; the issue was McCain comparing Romney to the Democrats and moveOn and their demand for withdrawal timetables. And it was Congress that wanted to set them.

Romney was not even close in his response. His response was a one who ran a business or led a company. As a business owner and a home builder who has tried to coordinate all the different trades, that sounds pretty reasonable, doesn't it?

McCain twisted and distorted the response in the name of his moniker- the DoubleTalk Express. That is what is the fury.

BTW, McCain cannot beat Clinton. To believe so, you must have to listen to the MSM and Bill Clinton and the incessant drumbeat to the effect McCain is the only one to beat Clinton.

Come on, I am smarter than that and so are you. There is absolutely no relevance to personality polls of today and when the voters focus on two (not 10) candidates and begin to look them eyeball to eyeball this fall.

I just wish the Rs had a contest between the two heavyweights- Giuliani and Romney- and not McCain. This re-flirtation with Huckabee and McCain in the front-loaded primaries has been bad for the Rs.

Posted by: swatter on January 29, 2008 03:23 PM
86. Hagel has a lifetime rating higher than Grassley, Bond, DeWine. He is only three points behind Santorum, only two behind Thune and Frist, one ahead of Alexander, and a few ahead of Warner and McCain.

Sometimes I think it is a bit more instructive to look at what liberals think of conservatives. Hagel scores a 22 from ACLU (which I don't have a big problem with; I agree with the ACLU on some of things ... same score as Trent Lott and McCain), but a 10 from ADA (Americans for Democratic Action, also same as McCain).

Hagel's LCV (league of Conservation Voters) is a 5, compared to 45 for McCain, and both McCain and Hagel get 5 from NAACP and 0 from NARAL. McCain gets a 23 from the unions and Hagel gets an 8. Hagel has a mean rating of 9, which translates to 91% anti-liberal. :-) McCain has 17/83.

All this to say that Hagel is pretty darned conservative, regardless of his opinion on the war in Iraq. There's a common misconception that he is liberal because he is against the war, but he is far less liberal than McCain overall.

And this also gives a better indiction than the ACU rating of where some of McCain's problems lie: he gets props from LCV and SEIU because of his stances on global warming and immigration.

Posted by: pudge on January 29, 2008 04:09 PM
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