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Posts Tagged ‘John McCain’
September 6th, 2013 at 2:31 am
Syrian Resolution Looks Doomed to Failure
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Earlier today, Rick Klein, Political Director for ABC News, tweeted out that 217 members of the House of Representatives have gone on record “as likely to oppose authorizing military force against Syria,” giving those opposed to the resolution a majority in the lower chamber (if we have any pedants in the audience shouting about the fact that it takes 218 to reach a majority, note that Alabama and Massachusetts both currently have one vacant seat).

Now, “likely to oppose” isn’t the same thing as definitely voting no, but anyone who’s staking out territory this early in the process is disproportionately likely to to stick to his guns. And it’s clear that the momentum on this is all going in one direction — and it’s not the president’s.

That’s remarkable, but not particularly surprising. Sometimes you can get a member to vote against his political interest for the sake of ideology. Sometimes you can get him to vote against his ideology for the sake of his political interest. But when both are imperiled simultaneously, the whipping gets much harder. That’s precisely the case with a potential military offensive that polls terribly and hits intellectual pressure points for liberals and conservatives alike.

One dispiriting aspect of this debate is the chorus of conservative voices such as Jennifer Rubin, Hugh Hewitt, and Bret Stephens who’ve conflated opposition to feckless, limited airstrikes in Syria with “isolationism.” It may be fair to say that nearly all isolationists are opposed to taking action in Syria. It does not follow, however, that all who are opposed to taking action in Syria are isolationists. The scope of opposition is far too large to be constituted entirely (or even primarily) of those opposed to American action overseas in all but the most limited circumstances.

I suspect that there are a fair number of conservatives like me — as far removed from the reflexive international reticence of Rand Paul as we are from John McCain’s “anytime, anywhere, for any reason” school of intervention — who just don’t see the strategic payoff here, especially given the manner in which the Obama Administration would be likely to conduct the fight.

America has played too fast and loose with defining our national security interests in recent years. Doing so again — especially when it’s clear that the Obama Administration has no plan that will actually result in a change of circumstances on the ground in Syria — is an exercise in futility. The measure deserves defeat.

March 15th, 2013 at 3:24 pm
Honoring John McCain

I’ve never understood why John McCain is so irascible, so prone to truly nasty remarks and actions towards colleagues and towards those on the right who may disagree with him on certain issues, and in general such an unpleasant person so much of the time. I’ll never understand it. But I do know this: McCain is a patriot and a brave and courageous man who suffered for his country. Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of his release from brutal captivity at the hands of the North Vietnamese. He wrote about it in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, here. Showing the considerable better angels of his nature, he focused not at all on his suffering, but on reconciliation with the Vietnamese. It was a gracious and generous column, thoroughly admirable.

I salute McCain for his column, and for his service. So should we all.

February 12th, 2013 at 5:30 pm
Honoring POW Heroes from Vietnam

Speaker John Boehner put out a wonderful press release today honoring U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, released from seven years of North Vietnamese captivity 40 years ago today. An excerpt:

In fact, Sam was set aside for extra abuse because of his obstinate resistance to his Communist captors.  At various points Sam spent 42 straight months in solitary confinement and was forced into leg stocks for more than two years.

“But while Sam’s jailors punished his body, they could not break his spirit; his love of God and country is a deep wellspring they could never penetrate.  His scars bear witness to his tenacity and toughness.

Johnson was on the very first plane of POWs that left Vietnam as a result of the agreement forged by President Richard Nixon. Among the 130-some others released that first day were Edward Alvarez Jr. (later Deputy Administrator of the VA) — honored last year down here where I live in Mobile when our local Chapter of the Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO) was named after him — former Vice Presidential candidate James Stockdale, and former U.S. Sen. Jeremiah Denton, also of Mobile. Denton, by the way, is a delightful man who continued to do good works for decades after he left the Senate.

Denton’s book about the experience, When Hell Was in Session, is an incredibly moving read.

(U.S. Sen. John McCain was released from Vietnam a month later, on March 14, 1973.)

Anyway, even all these years later, please take a moment to stop, consider the courage and sacrifice and hardiness of those kept in such hellish conditions while serving our country’s cause, and please offer a prayer of thanks.

January 8th, 2013 at 2:06 pm
Hagel Should Get the Opportunity to Go Through a Tough Confirmation Process

To start, I’ll take as a compliment Quin’s assertion that “Ashton seems to accept with some equanimity the idea that Chuck Hagel will be confirmed as Secretary of Defense” since equanimity is a virtue I’m trying to achieve.

That said, I don’t think there’s a Republican United States Senator willing to take Quin’s suggestion and put a permanent hold on Hagel’s nomination.

It’s one thing for Ted Cruz (R-TX) to make waves on cable television by (rightly) blasting the Obama Administration over Hagel, the fiscal cliff, and gun control, but it is quite another for Cruz to use his senatorial prerogative of “holding” up the President’s nomination for one of the top three Cabinet posts (State and Treasury being the other two); especially since Cruz is in his first full week as a Senator.

Moreover, from the tone of opposition coming from other top Republicans like John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and others, I don’t get the sense defeating the Hagel nomination through an obscure “hold” is the proverbial hill upon which any Republican Senator wants to die this session.

Instead, I think Hagel will go through the confirmation process with the kind of probing scrutiny Supreme Court justices get.  It may very well be that, as Quin writes, “The man [Hagel], appears to many to be an anti-Semite.  Opponents make quite a case that he should never set foot in the top office at the Pentagon.”

Well, let Senate Republicans, not just political pundits, make that case on the record.

In the confirmation hearings, during floor debate, and in an actual speaking filibuster if it comes to that, Senate Republicans will have many instances to make precisely the case Quin alludes to, and any other substantive policy criticisms about Hagel they think will defeat his confirmation.  But let’s have the argument in public, through the normal process of a presidential nomination.

U.S. Senators like to think they work within “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”  Let them prove it with a robust examination of Chuck Hagel’s fitness to be the next Secretary of Defense.

November 14th, 2012 at 5:04 pm
Obama’s False Machismo
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham preempted President Obama’s East Room press conference this morning by announcing that they would attempt to block — through use of the filibuster, if necessary — the potential nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

Their rationale: Rice was directly responsible for propogating the Administration’s now completely-disproved contention that the Benghazi terrorist attacks were the product of an angry mob that spontaneously turned to violence. Whether Rice is guilty of incompetence or deception (there’s really no other plausible alternative), McCain and Graham argued, no one who was party to the Benghazi debacle should be expecting a promotion.

That stance led to the president attempting to go all alpha male in his remarks at the White House:

“When they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me,” Obama said. “And should I choose, if I think that she would be the best person to serve America in the capacity at the State Department, then I will nominate her.”

“Then they’ve got a problem with me?” Obama might as well have gone with “Nobody puts baby in a corner.”

No one is actually afraid of this president. Which is why Graham’s response was so perfect:

Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi.  I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack.

Just so. The White House is going to need more than bluster to dodge accountability for what happened in Libya.

October 31st, 2012 at 1:39 pm
McCain Slams Obama on Benghazi Cover-Up
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Mark my words: if Barack Obama is reelected, he will be thrust into scandal perhaps before he even takes the oath of office for a second time. Though the media — with Fox as virtually the only exception — is studiously avoiding the scandal of Americans being abandoned during the terrorist attack in Benghazi, the implications are far too sweeping to be suppressed for long (particularly if, as Newt Gingrich has suggested, there is a damning paper trail floating around out there). The most concise reading of this development — and, in my judgment, the most accurate — is this one from John McCain:

This president is either engaged in a massive cover-up deceiving the American people or he is so grossly incompetent that he is not qualified to be the commander in chief of our armed forces. It’s either one of them.

Just so.

June 26th, 2012 at 1:19 pm
Giving McCain His Due
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Last week, here on the blog, I went to town on Senator John McCain for what I viewed as his asinine, borderline incoherent rants about Citizens United specifically and money in politics generally. At the time, I noted offhandedly that while McCain has always been horrible on the issue of political free speech he has much to recommend him in other areas. Happily, only a week later, he’s in the news for one such virtue : his opposition to wasteful spending.

McCain was on the warpath against the waste in the Senate’s version of a farm bill passed late last week, going so far as to produce a top 10 list for Twitter of the most egregious proposed expenditures. The items:

#1 – Creates new USDA office to inspect catfish. FDA already inspects catfish, so this one’s a real bottom-feeder.

#2 – $200 mil Market Access Program promoting brands overseas. Example: Holding “liquor mixology demonstrations” in Russia.

#3 – $25 million to study health benefits of peas, lentils and garbanzo beans. Pretty sure they’re healthy.

#4 – Subsidies for mohair (AKA goat wool), which have cost taxpayers $20 million+ since 1954

#5 – New subsidy for popcorn producers. Yes, popcorn subsidies – after popcorn prices rose 40% in recent yrs.

#6 – $10 million to establish new USDA program to eradicate feral pigs. Talk about pork!

#7 – $15 million to establish a new grant program to “improve” the U.S. sheep industry. A ba-a-a-a-a-a-d idea.

#8 – $700 million for “Ag and Food Research Initiative” funding grants to research pine trees in FL & study moth pheromones

#9 – $40 million in grants from USDA to states to encourage private land owners to use land for bird watching or hunting

#10 – $200 million for “Value Added Grant Program” often used to give grants to wine producers (& cheese makers too) “

All jokes his.

Thanks to McCain, some of the provisions (like the catfish inspection) were stricken from the bill. We’ll have to wait for the legislation to be finished to see how bad the final damage is, but we already know this: the outcome will be better than it would have been had John McCain not been part of the process. For that (and for his statement, quoted in the New York Times over the weekend, that he is ““hard-pressed to think of any other industry that operates with less risk at the expense of the American taxpayer”), he deserves our thanks.

Now if only he’d shut up about campaign finance reform …

June 18th, 2012 at 4:10 pm
Scenes from a McCain Presidency
Posted by Troy Senik Print

The margin of victory in the 2008 presidential race was so wide — and the election of Barack Obama so historic — that we rarely stop to imagine what it would have been like were we now well into the third year of John McCain’s presidency.

Needless to say, we’d be better off on a wide variety of fronts. McCain, a consistent fiscal hawk, not only wouldn’t have indulged in a record-setting debt binge like Barack Obama, he may well have made a serious run at entitlement reform. And as a stalwart advocate for a strong national defense, it seems overwhelmingly obvious that McCain would have taken a harder line with Iran than the “diplomacy at all costs” approach embraced by the Obama Administration.

In other areas, however, McCain would have been an utter nightmare. Can anyone imagine how one of the namesakes of the McCain-Feingold political speech law would have reacted to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision? Based on this report from the New York Times, it may have been even worse than Obama:

In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama roundly criticized the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, arguing that it had “reversed a century of law.” That practically sounds like a hymn of praise compared to what Senator John McCain had to say on “Meet the Press” this weekend. He called Citizens United: “arrogant, uninformed, naïve.” …

“I think there will be scandals associated with the worst decision of the United States Supreme Court in the 21st century,” he said. Referring to the justices on the Court, he added, “I just wish one of them had run for county sheriff.”

This was on the heels of McCain criticizing casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s contributions to Republican causes, saying that the fact that he owns a gaming facility in Macau could mean that “foreign money is coming into American political campaigns.”

This serves as one more reminder that, as McCain himself essentially told us four years ago, he’s basically an economic illiterate. Someone with foreign business interests donating to a political campaign is subversive of the integrity of domestic elections? Does Merrill Lynch, McCain’s biggest donor in 2008, only invest in domestic entities? Does Fed-Ex, another major donor, only ship within the 50 states? Since the obvious answer is no, how was McCain able to escape the corrupting influence of foreign money?

The point here is not to hammer those companies; quite the contrary. They were completely within their rights to give political donations, as is Adelson. The point is that McCain’s fetish for regulating political speech is both hypocritical and inimical to a free society. Giving government the power to regulate what free citizens may say about the government (and when and where they may say it) is a fundamental threat to liberty.

On this one front, at least, we can be happy that McCain was never able to bring the powers of the White House to bear.

September 9th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
New York Times Flatters Palin

New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas did today what precious few liberal commentators would: give Sarah Palin a fair hearing.  “Confessing” a knee-jerk reaction to Palin that writes-off the former Alaska governor before she speaks, Giridharadas nonetheless noted Palin’s striking analysis of the current political scene from a recent speech in Iowa:

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

This is the kind of anti-establishment populism that Palin articulated to victory against incumbent Republicans in Alaska (first, fellow members of the state’s Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, then the sitting governor).  Indeed, one of the main reasons John “Maverick” McCain chose Palin as his vice presidential running mate was because of her willingness to buck the system in favor of her principles.

As just what might those principles be as president?  Giridharadas says:

Ms. Palin may be hinting at a new political alignment that would pit a vigorous localism against a kind of national-global institutionalism.

On one side would be those Americans who believe in the power of vast, well-developed institutions like Goldman Sachs, the Teamsters Union, General Electric, Google and the U.S. Department of Education to make the world better. On the other side would be people who believe that power, whether public or private, becomes corrupt and unresponsive the more remote and more anonymous it becomes; they would press to live in self-contained, self-governing enclaves that bear the burden of their own prosperity.

No one knows yet whether Ms. Palin will actually run for president. But she did just get more interesting.

August 8th, 2011 at 6:46 pm
Huntsman Charting McCain Path Without the Record

The Washington Examiner reports that GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is trying to retrace the steps Senator John McCain (R-AZ) took to the 2008 nomination.  Citing his moderate stances on just about everything, Huntsman and his advisors (many former McCain hands) avoiding the conservative-dominated Iowa caucuses and hoping for “a good showing” in the New Hampshire primary.  Thereafter Huntsman hopes to win the South Carolina and Florida primaries with a pure economic message.

What a riot.  McCain was the undisputed national security candidate last time around, and was able to paper over many of his moderate-to-liberal heresies with a compelling military background.  By contrast, Huntsman has been a well-connected ambassador to the Far East (China and Singapore), and has never served in uniform, let alone suffered torture.  Moreover, McCain won the New Hampshire primary by 6 percentage points over Romney.  Alternatively, Huntsman wants a “good showing”?  Hopefully, that’s more than the 1.8 percent he’s polling nationally, or else he won’t make it to South Carolina.

The truth about the Huntsman campaign is that it features a candidate in search of a constituency.  Anyone in the Republican Party who is repelled by the Tea Party and trusts Wall Street more than Main Street is already voting for Mitt Romney.  Huntsman is a slightly different version of the same formula.

If history is any guide, the GOP tends to give the presidential nomination to the next guy in line.  In 2008 it was John McCain.  In 2012, it will be Mitt Romney.  Only a big name with big money like Texas Governor Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann seems poised to spoil the party.  Refusing to campaign to an entire wing of the Republican base by skipping the Iowa caucuses isn’t at bottom a campaign strategy – it’s an acknowledgement that Jon Huntsman is the answer to a presidential question no one is asking.

June 30th, 2011 at 1:45 pm
Huntsman Hiring More McCain Staff

As CFIF reported earlier this month, presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (R-UT) is hiring staff that previously worked for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in the latter’s bids for the White House.  Byron York details how many conservatives are interpreting Huntsman’s personnel hires as accurate indications of how he thinks about policy.  (Hint: Not conservative.)

Huntsman’s top campaign aide is John Weaver, who was John McCain’s top campaign aide in 2000 and in the early stages of the 2008 campaign — campaigns that often raised the ire of the GOP base. (Weaver has also worked for some Democrats.) Other McCain veterans have signed on with Huntsman, as well. Still others, like Mark McKinnon — the aide who worked for McCain in the 2008 primaries but left because he did not want to campaign against Barack Obama — also favor Huntsman. (McKinnon is a co-founder of the “No Labels” movement, much derided by conservatives.)

When Huntsman took second place in the Republican Leadership Conference straw poll in New Orleans recently, Politico reported that he benefited from the vote wrangling of former Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, whom conservatives well remember as the only Republican to vote for Obamacare in the House. There’s another mark against Huntsman. And that’s before conservatives consider the fact that Huntsman spent the past two years working for the Obama administration.

The conservative base pays close attention to the people who surround a candidate. In the eyes of some, personnel can trump policy. “At both the Republican Leadership Council and at Right Online (another conservative gathering), the majority of conservative activists I spoke to said they knew nothing of Huntsman’s positions,” says conservative activist Erick Erickson, “but his campaign team had the makings of the second coming of John McCain.”

Huntsman is McCain without the war record to paper over his liberal positions on illegal immigration, cap-and-tax, and healthcare reform.  Thus, he’s a left-of-center Republican hiring left-of-center staff.  If personnel drives policy, beware of a President Huntsman.

June 22nd, 2011 at 4:40 pm
McCain Too Quick to Make Charges of Isolationism
Posted by Troy Senik Print

For John McCain — who has never met an evil anywhere on earth that doesn’t require Spartanesque military might from the U.S. — Republicans that question America’s role in Libya and the continued need for a large footprint in Afghanistan are part of a worrying trend. As the Los Angeles Times reports:

“There has always been an isolationist strain in the Republican Party,” McCain said on ABC’s “This Week,” “but now it seems to have moved more center stage…. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people all over the world.”

McCain is engaging here in the logic fallacy known as “hasty generalization”. Just because some Republicans question the utility of some military missions, it doesn’t follow that they have a principled and categorical objection to America acting overseas. Tony Blankley makes the point with his trademark gusto in his column in today’s Washington Times:

… Almost two years ago, I was one of the first GOP internationalist-oriented commentators or politicians to conclude that the Afghan war effort had served its initial purpose, but it was time to phase out the war. As a punitive raid against the regime that gave succor to Osama bin Laden, we removed the Taliban government and killed as many al Qaeda and Taliban as possible.

But as the purpose of that war turned into nation-building, even GOP internationalists have a duty to reassess whether, given the resources and strategy, such policy is likely to be effective (see about a dozen of my columns on Afghan war policy from 2009-10).

Now many others in the GOP and in the non-isolationist wing of the Democratic Party are likewise judging failure in Afghanistan to be almost inevitable. That is not a judgment driven by isolationism. Neither are we – along with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and almost the entire uniformed chain of command – isolationist when we see no national interest in Libya.

This is not isolationism. It is a rational effort at judging how best to advance American values and interests in an ever-more witheringly dangerous world. The charge of isolationism should be reserved for the genuine article. Such name-calling advances neither rational debate nor national interest.

Bravo to Blankley. McCain is an honorable man — but one who ought to be a little more careful when throwing around ideological labels.

June 1st, 2011 at 11:38 am
Huntsman Sounds Like the Gipper, Governs Like a Maverick

If you like Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater you’ll love Jon Huntsman’s opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal.  Sounding themes of economic growth, fiscal responsibility, and balanced budgets as the key to a prosperous future Huntsman even borrows the Gipper’s famous “time for choosing” phrase to headline his column.  Heck, the former Republican governor of Utah and ambassador to China even praises Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget resolution.

One problem: Jon Huntsman isn’t the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan.  Rather, he’s a slicker, more polished version of John McCain.  In a word, he’s a maverick whose method of policymaking is open to whatever the political consensus of the moment requires.  As I wrote for CFIF this week, Huntsman is attracting the same kind of “progressive” Republicans that flocked to McCain’s failed presidential bids.

For all his red meat economic rhetoric in today’s column, Huntsman can’t hide from his past support for President Barack Obama’s stimulus spending, growth in (state) government, cap-and-trade, and state-run health care.

Back in 2005 as governor, Huntsman gave a summary of his approach to illegal immigration that can be used as a window into how he governs in general: “I want to be a catalyst and report good ideas that will lead to a philosophy. That’s what we need first and foremost.”

Wrong.  In the Age of Obama, conservatives aren’t looking for a presidential candidate that formulates his governing philosophy on the fly.  Think about this: If this is the way Huntsman thinks of his job as an executive, is it too much of a leap to assume that this is the kind of ad hoc philosophizing he’ll look for in judicial nominations?  Haven’t we had enough of judicial activists making up the law as they go along, rewriting the Constitution so that it fits whatever facts are in play?

Yet that is exactly what Huntsman’s “report good ideas that will lead to a philosophy” statement suggests.  We’ve seen the kind of cognitive dissonance that Republicans like John McCain truck in when their policy positions are not tethered to conservative principles.  Huntsman is right in his economic prescriptions, but what conservative isn’t these days?  The real question is whether he’ll be right dealing with future problems that require him to use his first principles, whatever those are.

April 22nd, 2011 at 1:44 pm
Growth in Entitlements Kills Defense Capabilities

Byron York continues sounding a lone alarm over the connection between ballooning welfare spending and shrinking defense budgets.  With the United States largely abstaining from the lethal aspects of NATO’s Libyan adventure, entitlement-heavy countries like Britain and France are running out of missiles.

The reason?  Decades of budget decisions that favored butter over guns.

On a trip to Libya, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reopens the straight talk express:

“…it’s a sobering fact that many NATO countries, even some of the big ones, are simply weak. They’ve been cutting their defense budgets for years as their welfare state commitments grew bigger and bigger. Now, they can’t mount much of a fight, even by the small-scale standards of the Libyan action. “No one will admit it, but both the British and the French are running out of precision-guided weapons,” says McCain. “They simply do not have the assets.”

Not that this evidence is convincing to modern liberals.  York also points out that members of Congress’ Progressive Caucus recently proposed a “People’s Budget” that raises taxes to expand entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid while “reducing strategic capabilities, conventional forces, procurement, and research & development programs.”

We’ve seen the future, and it’s the near military impotence of Britain and France.  The United States can and must do better.

January 21st, 2011 at 1:39 pm
Huckabee in Pole Position for GOP 2012 Nomination

Surprisingly, former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) comfortably leads all other likely Republican contenders for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination.  Though the lead is of dubious predictive value, the Other Man From Hope, Arkansas continues to be a genuine political force attractive to millions of Americans.  He did, after all, win the 2008 Iowa caucuses and come within a hair’s breath of winning Missouri’s primary.  Had he won the latter, the nomination fight would have boiled down to him and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), with favorable odds for an eventual Huckabee win.

So far, Huckabee says he won’t make a final decision on running until this summer.  The reason being his distaste for an 18-month campaign; a distaste shared by many voters.  Though Huckabee ran afoul of some fiscal conservative groups for some infrastructure spending increases he implemented as governor, he rightly pointed out that all of them were either mandated by federal judicial rulings, or popularly approved by Arkansas voters.

From all accounts Huckabee is probably the most normal person likely to run for president this cycle.  That alone may explain his widespread appeal.  Time will tell if it is enough to get him the nomination this time.

H/T: Political Wire

January 12th, 2011 at 5:10 pm
Setting the Beltway Establishment on Fire
Posted by Troy Senik Print

For all of the good that came out of the 2010 midterm elections, the biggest disappointment had to be the fact that Peter Schiff — CEO of Europe Pacific Capital and a devout student of Austrian economics — lost in the Republican primary for the open U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut.

For a taste of Schiff’s particular brand of straight talk (which would make John McCain soil himself) one need look no further than a piece he authored in today’s Washington Times, wherein he excoriates the entire Beltway establishment and uses political handicapper Stuart Rothenberg as a metaphor for everything that’s wrong with the political class. The piece begs to read in its entirety, but here’s one particularly fine excerpt:

This is how the game works in big-time politics: A potential candidate hires a polling firm to create a strategically written and scientifically executed poll to discover the buzzwords and simple campaign themes that “resonate” among voters. Consultants then boil down the poll results to a few “winning” message points and strategies. At that point, the modern candidate simply hammers away again and again at those sound bites. Winners are those who stay “on message” while knocking their opponents “off message.” It is of little consequence to the professionals that this process produces the kind of vacuous, unprincipled leaders who have brought our country to the doorstep of economic ruin.

If the American people are really tired of business as usual, they could do a lot worse than to summon Peter Schiff to Capitol Hill. Here’s to hoping he gives the Senate another look in 2012.

January 7th, 2011 at 7:25 pm
Rudy Giuliani Preparing to Tempt Fate, Waste Money

Teagan Goddard of Political Wire repeated a rumor going around about former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) getting some of his political hands together for another run at the White House.  Presumably, those are the same people that talked their boss into a suicidal primary strategy: skip Iowa, abandon New Hampshire, and bypass South Carolina for an all-or-nothing shot in Florida.

Of course, by the time the Florida primary rolled around, the GOP nomination was a two-horse race between John McCain (R-AZ) and Mitt Romney (R-MA).  (Governor Charlie Crist’s late support of McCain sealed the deal for the Maverick’s Sunshine State win.)  In the process, Giuliani spent a ton of money effectively not contesting the nomination until it was too late.

And now he wants to do it all again.  I’m sure his “brain trust” won’t mind dusting off the 2008 playbook while cashing 2012 checks.

September 24th, 2010 at 12:29 pm
For Feingold, Being a Maverick Means Never Having to Say, “Aye”

The difference between a ‘moderate’ politician and a political ‘maverick’ is that the latter takes more joy out of angering his party’s base.  For Republican mavericks like Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that usually means signing onto to Progressive-themed legislation on climate change, amnesty, etc.  They get in trouble for what they’re for.

Not so with maverick Democratic Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), whom The Nation profiles thusly:

Feingold opposed Bill Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement and normalization of trade with China; he opposed George W. Bush’s Central American Free Trade Agreement; now he is challenging attempts by the Obama administration to advance trade policies that do too much for multinational corporations and too little for workers and farmers here and abroad. Feingold was the leading Senate critic of Clinton’s failure to abide by the War Powers Act; he opposed Bush’s rush to war in Iraq and was the first senator to call for a timeline to bring the troops home; now he complains that the Obama administration is not moving fast enough to wind that war down. Feingold noisily challenged constitutional abuses during the Clinton and Obama years, and as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution subcommittee, he is pressing the Obama administration to get serious about civil liberties. Feingold opposed Clinton’s proposal to loosen bank rules, arguing that doing so could threaten financial stability; he opposed Bush’s bank bailout; and he was the sole Democrat to object that the reforms Obama backed did not go far enough because they did not do away with “too big to fail” banks and did not adequately protect consumers or taxpayers.

While there’s something about Feingold’s proclivity to vote ‘No’ that a limited government conservative can (sort of) appreciate, it’s a testament to his lack of legislative accomplishment (other than his free speech-destroying efforts at ‘campaign finance reform’) that Wisconsin voters are thinking seriously about firing him after three terms.

For all his opposition over the years, Feingold loses every battle he fights.  Ideas are great.  Ideas with results are better.

March 6th, 2010 at 2:24 pm
Pale Pastels: David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy

Presumptive British Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron and French “conservative” President Nicholas Sarkozy are scheduled to meet when the latter comes to London.  Both are cut from the John McCain (R-AZ) “progressive” cloth when it comes to climate change, taxes, and civil liberties.  If the GOP wants to make good on its promising electoral campaigns this year, it should steer clear of Cameron and Sarkozy versions of conservatives and go for the real thing: substantive limits on spending and taxing, coupled with the comprehensive deregulation of government’s intrusion into civil society.  Like Ronald Reagan once said, we need bold colors, not pale pastels.

February 22nd, 2010 at 2:24 pm
McCain “Misled” on TARP
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with the editorial board of the Arizona Republic, embattled Senator John McCain said that he was “misled by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.  McCain said the pair assured him that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would focus on what was seen as the cause of the financial crisis, the housing meltdown.”

That’s what we thought, too, Senator.  But we weren’t in the room.

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