Why I Have a Hard Time with John McCain

My problems with John McCain are legion.

Many conservatives share my trepidation about the bills he is most commonly associated with (i.e. McCain-Feingold or McCain-Kennedy).  They seem like unwise alliances for a conservative to make, a compromise gone too far at best.  Or perhaps, they show his true philosophies, which are for big government.

One big issue for me is the hypocrisy of the “Straight Talk Express.”  There are several times in presidential debates where Mr. McCain will move off the express.  For instance, he told Ron Paul that the troops in Iraq wanted to win the war, and they wanted Ron Paul to let them.  Not long after this, John McCain admitted troops could be in Iraq up to 100 years or more.  How can a victory be reconciled with this idea of a near permanent occupying force?  In response to this attack, Ron Paul asked Senator McCain why he received more donations from active military officers than any other Republican candidate.  A fair question.  Many forget or do not realize that Dr. Paul was an Air Force flight surgeon during Vietnam.

Senator McCain also condemned Ron Paul’s brand of “Isolationism,” holding it responsible for not getting rid of Hitler before WWII.  I do not have a time machine, but if I did, I wonder how many Americans were clamoring to depose Hitler before WWII started?  I remember General Eisenhower’s statement about “Preventive war,” which he recalled “Since the earliest days of Hitler.”  He stated, “I wouldn’t even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.”  Even ignoring the Old Right opposition to American entrance to the war, who would have supported a pre-emptive operation to depose Hitler?  And with a strong military appartus already in place by the time we would have attacked, how would we know that such a military apparatus would be easily controlled or quelled?  For more on this, see here.

Of course, Ron Paul set him straight.  He is a “Non-Interventionist,” which is much different than an isolationist.  A foreign policy of non-intervention means that we can trade, travel, and talk with other nations.  The government focus is on peace treaties and diplomatic relations, including trade agreements between individual countries.  (Bureaucratically-managed trade, including NATO and WTO, would not be part of it.)  Entangling military alliances would be avoided.  Entangling economic alliances (think WTO) would be avoided.  Coercive economic measures such as sanctions would be completely avoided, for sanctions tend to punish the masses, the poor, the needy, and often embolden the country’s leadership, whom sanctions are intended to punish.

I have grave concerns about Senator McCain’s record of supporting foreign military intervention, including in the Balkans in the late 1990s.  One can say he has certainly been consistent, including in talk to build up our presence in Iraq.  I shuddered when last year he sang “Bomb Iran” to the tune of “Barbara Ann” at a town hall meeting.  Such a nonchalantly hawkish and nearly bloodthirsty attitude disturbs me.

I would also rather not be drafted, as would most of my peers.  I fear electing Senator McCain increases our chances of getting drafted as compared to most other candidates.

Some champion Senator McCain’s tough talk on ethics reform and earmarks.  Earmarks and pork barrel projects, though not always transparent, are simply ways to allocate funds already in the budget.  Earmarks are a way for Congressman to get some money back into their district.  Reducing the number of earmarks is a hallow victory, for the total spending amount is unchanged as a result.  The executive branch or the vast bureaucratic machine then decides what to do with the money rather than elected representatives.

Even if reducing earmarks reduced spending, this would be savings of billions of dollars, probably not tens of billions and certainly not hundreds of billions of dollars.  With a nine trillion dollar debt and deficit spending now a regular habit (tax breaks + spending increases), saving a few billion here and a few billion there is really just pocket change.

Of course, Senator McCain has publicly stated he does not understand economics very well.  As an illustration, he said he wished interest rates were at 0%.  If one really misunderstands the economic situation so comprehensively, how can he select advisers who truly do understand the picture?  To me, it seems like he would get taken for an economic ride.  The sharks would smell the blood, as they did with President Bush.

In short, the cost in blood and treasure (for government here and abroad) should Senator McCain win the Presidency would be very alarming, and likely higher than it is currently.  I cannot in good conscience support a candidate who I have nearly zero confidence would reduce government spending and taxes and improve peaceful foreign relations.  Don’t believe me?  Look at his record.

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Filed under fiscal policy, foreign policy, politics, role of government, Ron Paul

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