TV and radio host Glenn Beck recently sat for an interview with Katie Couric, in which he asserted that John McCain would have been “worse for the country than Barack Obama.” Beck’s remarks were deliberately provocative – he was laughing in a “try this one on for size” spirit when he repeated them. He might have been looking to stake out some unique, independent ground, in the manner of his Fox associate Bill O’Reilly, who awakens every morning to discover the center of the political universe is planted squarely between his toes. I’ll take Beck at his word, however, and strenuously disagree with him.
John McCain was not my choice for the GOP nomination. He ran a perfectly appalling campaign, all the more heartbreaking because he squandered the only exciting opportunity he managed to create: the selection of Sarah Palin. McCain’s greatest mistake, which America has not finished paying dearly for, was allowing the Democrat crooks behind the subprime crisis to skate away without penalty. The miscarriage of justice involved in leaving Barney Frank to happily count the money he looted from American taxpayers pales beside the damage he continues to inflict on the economy. In fact, the Washington Examiner just ran a story about the return of the very same policies that produced the subprime crash. McCain is accountable for every bit of the damage people like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd cause in the future, an accessory through his silence. He spent far too much of his campaign dreaming of a big, old-fashioned wedding with The Media, flanked by honored Senate colleagues in tuxedos and bridesmaid gowns… while the object of his affections staggered out of a tattoo parlor with Obama’s name written all over her, fell into the back seat of the Lightworker’s muscle car, and roared off in a shower of empty beer cans.
He was an awful candidate… but McCain would not have bitten his tongue while Iran murdered its citizens, leaving their Fourth of July picnic invitation on the table. He would not be working to install a Chavez puppet as dictator of Honduras. He wouldn’t have tried to sacrifice American intelligence agents in a show trial for political gain. He wouldn’t shower America’s adversaries with concessions while gaining nothing in return. McCain would have plenty of opponents, but he wouldn’t spend an unseemly amount of time designating groups of his constituents as enemies. He would know better than to casually accuse a cop of racism on national television.
I don’t see McCain setting up an Orwellian email address to rat out political enemies to the White House, or dispatching a horde of thugs to beat up demonstrators at town hall meetings. I doubt he would greet the disappearance of billions in “stimulus” money by shrugging and demanding another trillion. He wasn’t lying when he said he wanted victory in Afghanistan. He would have fewer unelected, unconfirmed “czars,” and none of them would be a Truther, a supporter of cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal, or a communist… let alone all three. His Supreme Court nominations would not have to defend their racial theories of judicial supremacy at their confirmation hearings. Enemies of America wouldn’t have to test John McCain to find out what he was made of – they could just ask the North Vietnamese. I always thought “The Straight Talk Express” was a silly name for his campaign bus, but at least it wasn’t splattered with the political blood of people thrown beneath it.
This is not to say that President McCain’s domestic policies would have been superb. It’s impossible to predict exactly what anyone would have done in the Oval Office. The butterfly effect from swapping out presidents is so huge that it comes with pair of tiny Japanese girls, who speak in unison when they warn of its approach. However, nothing McCain said during the campaign made me anticipate a presidency of bold conservative reform. I suspect we would have gotten something like the lazy Bush slide to the left in most areas, sprinkled with the occasional conservative policy, and the unmitigated disaster of amnesty for illegal aliens.
During the campaign, disgruntled Republicans often said it would be better to have Obama in office, showing everyone just how horrible Democrat policies are, than tolerate a RINO like McCain pushing the same policies in low gear, with bipartisan fingerprints. Glenn Beck’s slap at McCain is a retroactive expression of the idea that conservatism is just one crushing defeat away from total victory. Anyone who thought it was worth putting Obama in office, as some kind of object lesson for the American voter, gravely underestimated the amount of damage he could do. Look at how far we’ve sailed past the edge of fiscal sanity, in only nine months. It would take decades of careful, moderate reform just to get us back to where George Bush left us… and that wasn’t exactly an enviable position. Freedom is an endless voyage, while tyranny has far too many points of no return. The course we steered away from President McCain has taken us perilously close to those terminal waters.
The Obama presidency has been a flash forward to where the post-Reagan glide path might have taken us, in ten or twenty years. It is not the same thing to arrive at this moment in 2009 instead of 2029, any more than spending the night drinking a bottle of whiskey is the same thing as draining it all in one gulp. Toxicity increases with dosage. Many things might have occurred over the next few decades, to help us cope with the coming crash. Instead, the time bomb of Social Security begins detonating next year. Even if Obama left office tomorrow, it would take dramatic reforms to pull us out of our nose dive… and the American voter hates dramatic reforms.
I’ve got a lot of bones to pick with George Bush’s domestic policies, and I doubt President McCain’s would have been much better, but if either of them replaced Obama tomorrow, the economy would begin improving immediately… not because they would do anything particularly brilliant, but because they wouldn’t pummel us with the insane crap Obama serves up as daily fare. At least the markets would have less reason to be terrified of the White House. Simply refraining from the dramatic transformation of our economy and culture would be a huge improvement at this point.
McCain wouldn’t be a worse president than Obama. He would be more politically inconvenient for the conservative movement. Speaking for myself, I’d pay that price in a heartbeat… to spare my country what it has already endured, and what is yet to come.