February 20, 2007


Why John McCain: He's a leader for our times (PHIL GRAMM, February 20, 2007, Opinion Journal)

I believe the man we need to meet the mortal need today is here. He is experienced, but has not lost his common sense or his ability to be outraged. His conservatism is not the result of a studied philosophy, but of common sense and personal observation. His name is John McCain. He might not be the right president for all times, but he is the right president for these times.

Today we have an unnecessary budget deficit, the result of wanton waste and dishonesty. John McCain has been a lonely but clarion voice on this issue: "Bills that perpetuate wasteful spending should be vetoed," he says. "Not some of them, all of them. The numbers should shock us; indifference to them should shame us."

This is not a concern he discovered when he decided to run for president. I first heard him say these things when we served together in the House many years ago. To ask if he would really take on the spending establishment that runs Congress is to ask if water will wet, if fire will burn. If you want to end the spending spree in Washington, he is your man.

John McCain understands instinctively that just as "in war, there is no substitute for victory, in peace, there is no substitute for growth." He believes that "the strength of our economy promotes freedom not just at home but in every distant corner of our planet. End growth in America and the lights start to go out all over the world."

The success of the Reagan program taught Sen. McCain that growth requires responsible, limited government and ever-expanding freedom. As he has said, "The answer to deficits is not to raise taxes or repeal the [Bush] tax cuts but to restrain our spending habit. If the federal government can not be funded by current revenues then we must reduce its size."

Others tell us that pigs have wings and we can have it all: more spending, more government, lower taxes and more freedom. John McCain's says that "tax cuts work best when accompanied by lower spending." Yes, he understands that cutting taxes creates the incentive to work, save and invest; and that sometimes you have to cut taxes first to get the economy going and then control spending. But in his common-sense view, as in the immutable laws that govern our world, you can't let government spend it and let the taxpayer keep it for very long. Nothing endangers the Bush tax cuts today as much as the spending orgy that the very proponents of those tax cuts allowed to occur.

Sen. McCain stands tall, and often alone, in his support for free trade against special interests and against the politicians who would risk destroying our economy to win an election. His view is straightforward and ratified by all our national experience: "Free trade is the key to economic growth, and a key to U.S. economic success. We need to stand up for free trade with no ifs, ands or buts about it. We let free trade and globalization be politicized at our own peril."

But he is not blind or callous to the real costs imposed on the few as trade and globalization create prosperity for the many. In his view, "We must remain committed to education, retraining and help for displaced workers, all the while reminding ourselves that our ability to change is a great strength of our nation." But, he adds, "We cannot let fear and the appeals of protectionism lead us backwards."

John McCain is one of the few politicians in America who consistently levels with us about the mounting insolvency of Social Security and Medicare. "We have made promises that we cannot keep. Some day the government will be forced to make dramatic cuts in these programs, or crippling increases in taxes on workers or both." For Sen. McCain, salvaging the social safety net and saving the economy means making the hard choices now to right the current system for those already in it, and building a new system for future workers based on real investments, not empty promises.

Being honest about Social Security and Medicare is a necessary but not sufficient condition for fixing a broken system. Think for a moment about all the possible candidates running for president next year, and then ask yourself this question: Who else has shown any ability to reach across the party divide and build a bipartisan consensus? Who else could lead worried Americans and shame a reluctant Congress into action? Who else would stay on course with political flak exploding all around him, and his political life hanging in the balance? The easy answer is--no one but John McCain.

Which candidate is best equipped to lead an America at war, with battle lines raging in far away places and on Main Street, where you live? It is in meeting this mortal need more than any other that John McCain stands head and shoulders above the alternatives. Only he has the life experience to know what is really entailed in sending young men and women into combat. With a son at Annapolis and a son in the Marine Corps, he still has plenty of "skin in the game." His life experience and intimate knowledge of defense and foreign policy give Sen. McCain moral authority.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 20, 2007 12:30 PM

God help us.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 20, 2007 1:12 PM

Reading over the weekend that McCain had about as much energy on the campaign trail as a corpse.

That's not good.

Posted by: BJW at February 20, 2007 1:31 PM

Not wishing ill health upon McCain, but it would be a great relief if he were to drop out sooner rather than later.

Posted by: erp at February 20, 2007 1:56 PM

If I squint really hard, I am beginning to see the ghost of Bob Dole. He's going to make even Hillary look youngful and vigorous.

Posted by: Rick T. at February 20, 2007 2:12 PM

Rick - OJ's refrain that it is McCain's turn certainly brings Bob Dole to mind.

Posted by: AWW at February 20, 2007 4:36 PM

And Dole would have won but for Ross Perot.

Posted by: oj [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 4:46 PM


To the contrary, the reporting was that he was revitalized and getting his stride back.

Posted by: at February 20, 2007 4:48 PM

A tired, preening, sick old senator gifted with a brittle and vicious personality, with a political history of zilch and with no executive experience apparently has the money to make a mess of the GOP presidential hopes for '08. This is insanity. His overwhelming implosion failure in '08 will make OJ's '04 electoral landslide-for-Bush prediction look like the smallest of miscalculations.

McCain does look and sound more like Bob Dole every day, except Dole was a very good legislator.

Posted by: Palmcroft at February 20, 2007 8:37 PM

I was for him before I was against him.
Bottom line, who can win the Presidency?
I do think either McCain or Guilinani could win, the Mayor is much more a "hawk" for the GWOT than press squish McCain is. On the so-called social conservatism, Rudy is pretty much a Federalist, leave the States to decide what they want to do, whether or not its what he'd want them to do.
That said, if McCain were to tell me Jeb Bush would be his running mate, he'd have my vote. Maybe, I just hate the idea of a Senator running for President.
Of course, that's all the Donks have in their stable. If Hillary had run against Pataki for Governor, she'd be a shoe in for President. The Nation thanks her for remaining a Senator.

Posted by: Mike at February 20, 2007 10:22 PM

McCain just needs W to get us out of Iraq and he can turn W's big win in '04 into the ten pointer it would have been absent the war.

Posted by: oj [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 10:23 PM

Is this even a race any more? For the second straight week Rasmussen shows Rudy beating the dead horse by fourteen points among lkely primary voters. That's pretty much in line with other recent polls. The RCP average of all polls gives an eight-point lead, and that includes the corpse/media darling's outlier four-point lead over Rudy in the Time poll. Toss that, and Giuliani leads by at least six points in every poll, and by an average of ten points.

Orrin will remain in denial. But a blogger's refusal to recognize political reality won't drag the embalmed remains of the Arizona grump to the nomination.

Posted by: Casey Abell at February 21, 2007 8:04 AM

Yes, Rudy like Colin Powell last time has won the race to be the most popular guy in the generic polls. But he can't win IA, NH or SC, so he'll be out of the actual nomination race before it gets to the Blue states where being pro-abortion and pro-gay helps.

Posted by: at February 21, 2007 9:45 AM

Sure, Orrin. The corpse is way behind in Iowa and will also lose in NH and probably SC. By the way, has Condi replaced Cheney yet?

Posted by: Casey Abell at February 21, 2007 3:17 PM

IA is a caucus state, so the polls are truly pointless. Pat Robertson didn't even register in the polling.

McCain leads and will win NH.

SC ain't voting for the Catholic guy who lived in the gay love nest.

Posted by: at February 21, 2007 6:01 PM