John McCain: The Good, The Bad, And The Really, Really Uglyby Doug Mataconis
Cato’s Michael Tanner takes a look at the guy who will, barring something truly extraordinary, be the Republican nominee for President:
While Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity sometimes portray McCain as a virtual clone of Ted Kennedy, the fact is that he is a true fiscal conservative—certainly more of a fiscal conservative than, say, Mitt Romney. He is well known as an opponent of earmarks and pork barrel spending. But perhaps more importantly, he has long been an advocate of entitlement reform. He was early an ardent support of personal accounts for Social Security, and has pushed for serious Medicare reform, including means-testing. Almost alone among Republicans, he opposed the disastrous Medicare prescription drug benefit.
Tanner also argues that McCain has good proposals, from a free market perspective, on health care and taxes and that, unlike guys like Mike Huckabee, he’s a free trader.
But it’s not all rosy:
John McCain frequently makes Dr. Strangelove look like a peacenik. Its not just his desire to remain in Iraq “for a hundred years.” It’s his bellicosity toward every enemy and perceived enemy from Iran to North Korea. He’s a true believer in the neoconservative goal of remaking the world to fit our desires and beliefs. At best on foreign policy he would be a competent Bush. At worst, he appears a recipe for perpetual conflict.
On domestic policy, he has shown a disturbing predilection for elevating every personal pet peeve, from steroids in baseball to airplane service quality, to a federal issue. And, he has embraced heavily regulatory environmental policies and compulsory national service
And then you get to the fact that McCain seems to view the First Amendment as optional and that he is, Tanner notes, a friend of government:
Most worrisome of all appears to be McCain’s basic philosophy, which is unapologetically statist, as Matt Welch points out in his new book McCain: The Myth of a Maverick. McCain once said “each and every one of us has a duty to serve a cause greater than our own self-interest.” McCain believes that cause to be the good of the collective, often defined as the nation or the national community.
Tanner ends up saying that McCain is, at best, a “mixed bag” but I think it’s worse than that. As I noted back in March 2007, John McCain is not a friend of liberty. Unfortunately, he’s got a very good shot at being the next President of the United States.