Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Is McCain Right?

The answer to the above question depends on what you mean by right. If you mean the sense of correct in his worldview and proposed actions, the answer is no. If you mean conservative, the answer is resoundingly yes, despite the bloviating of Rush Limbaugh et al.

Let's take just two examples of McCain's supposed liberal leanings: voting against the Bush tax cuts and immigration reform.

First, voting against the tax cuts was actually a pretty conservative thing to do if we assume that conservatives are the ones who want to be fiscally responsible and limit the size of government. The reason for his no vote was not that he doesn't think rich people should be allowed to keep more money, but rather that it didn't make sense to cut taxes without correspondingly cutting spending as this would require running a deficit. (This should be a familiar idea for anyone who's read Barry Goldwater's Consience of a Conservative.) Since Bush was actually increasing spending at the same time he was cutting revenue, the "conservative" thing to do was vote no on the cuts. In that sense, McCain was more conservative than our darling president.

Second, the immigration reform debate has been hijacked by morons and nut jobs so any labeling of liberal and conservative on the issue is pretty skewed. The Republican party seems to have taken on the general consensus that illegal immigrants (all 12 million of them) should be rounded up and deported. No one has yet produced a plan for how we should go about doing that because, well, it's probably impossible. Anyone who says otherwise is operating in a realm outside of reality. So McCain takes the position that we've got millions of people in this country, many of whom are contributing to society, and we should work with what we've got rather than chase pie in the sky notions of Old West-style roundups. He's not proposing amnesty or opening the borders to the poor, huddled masses. He's just not giving into hysteria. His position isn't liberal so much as sane.

(On a related note, The New York Times reported today that maybe the immigration situation isn't as out of control as we've been led to believe.)

The point I'm getting at here is that even with the issues on which he's being called liberal, John McCain is still taking on conservative positions. That doesn't even touch on the issues like abortion rights or war in the Middle East in which even the far right wing has to see a kindred spirit. There's no doubt that McCain is running in the primary in which he belongs. He isn't liberal and he isn't even really that much of a maverick.

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