Parsing Senator McCain
By Arnold Kling
Voters should read this speech by Republican Presidential candidate John McCain. It includes things that excite me and things that concern me.What it excites me is that, contrary to what I recently wrote, he runs as an anti-Spitzer.
I don’t seek the presidency on the presumption I’m blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need. I seek the office with the humility of a man who cannot forget my country saved me.
I am glad to see the humility factor.
The Senator says,
The wrong change looks not to the future but to the past for solutions that have failed us before and will surely fail us again… [Senator Obama] seems to think government is the answer to every problem; that government should take our resources and make our decisions for us. That type of change doesn’t trust Americans to know what is right or what is in their own best interests. It’s the attitude of politicians who are sure of themselves but have little faith in the wisdom, decency and common sense of free people. That attitude created the unresponsive bureaucracies of big government in the first place. And that’s not change we can believe in.
There are many similar passages along these lines, suggesting that real reform involves trusting the market rather than greater government involvement.
What concerns me are passages like this one:
I’ll reach out my hand to anyone, Republican or Democrat, who will help me change what needs to be changed; fix what needs to be fixed; and give this country a government as capable and good as the people it is supposed to serve. There is a time to campaign, and a time to govern. If I’m elected President, the era of the permanent campaign of the last sixteen years will end. The era of reform and problem solving will begin. From my first day in office, I’ll work with anyone…
I prefer gridlock to bipartisanship and compromise. To me, bipartisanship means enacting cap-and-trade legislation. I worry that compromise means allowing the Democrats to block any attempt to reduce the size of government.
Senator McCain notes that his critics fear that a vote for him is a vote for a third term of the Bush Administration. Not all of that fear comes from the left. Some of it comes from those of us who remember the spirit of bipartisanship and compromise that gave us No Child Left Behind, the unfunded prescription drug benefit for Medicare, ethanol mandates, and zilch on reforming Social Security.