Friday, November 14, 2008

What Happened to This Guy? UPDATED

Back in February, after John McCain clinched the Republican nomination, I wrote approvingly of his efforts to reach out to conservatives and by extension, libertarians. I was specifically delighted by this rhetorical flourish:

"...I share with you that most basic of conservative principles: that liberty is a right conferred by our Creator, not by governments, and that the proper object of justice and the rule of law in our country is not to aggregate power to the state but to protect the liberty and property of its citizens. And like you, I understand, as Edmund Burke observed, that whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither . . . is safe."

There was more:

"I believe today, as I believed twenty-five years ago, in small government; fiscal discipline; low taxes; a strong defense, judges who enforce, and not make, our laws; the social values that are the true source of our strength; and, generally, the steadfast defense of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which I have defended my entire career as God-given to the born and unborn."

When the credit crunch, which became a manufactured crisis, hit, John McCain's instincts were dead on. He initially opposed the bail out of AIG. He announced the suspension of the campaign to go to Washington to deal with the crisis. I had real hope that he was going to again out-maneuver Obama and propose a better, less intrusive, less costly solution to the problem at hand. It would have simultaneously played to his strengths, small-government conservative and maverick and would have properly framed the debate. But in the end, he offered nothing different from Bush or Obama and it was game over. I am not sure if it was timidity or lack of confidence in his own judgement on economic issues. Too bad, because the nation is going to suffer for it.


Apparently, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) read my blog and agrees that McCain's support of the bailout was at least partly responsible for his loss. From CNN:

'And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election."

Dang, I may have to retract the whole post.


  1. B-Daddy, I remember the phonecon we had that Friday. We were damn near giddy. It all made so much sense. Break with Bush... Break with Obama... side with the public. Forget his Palin pick, forget his decision to not go after Obama on Wright, etc. Imho, how he was not able to pull the trigger on this will be the biggest unanswered question of this campaign.

  2. I don't agree. McCain's campaign was pretty heroic. The Republicans torched their brand through incompetence and corruption and the fact that he led with 2 months to go was amazing.

    Once the crash occurred, he was done. All of this yapping about campaign strategies and tactics is just pundits filling inches in the newspapers.

    The Republicans had 6 years of power and produced mammoth deficits and never touched regulations. There was no reason for the ordinary person to vote for them.

  3. KT, I mostly agree about the brand name and six years of incompetence. However, McCain's strength, his brand name if you will, was that he was not part and parcel of the Republican core team. That is why the Obamacrats tried so hard to sell the meme that he was four more years of George Bush. McCain failed to deliver on the strength of that brand. I am not saying that he would have won the election, only that he was sure to lose by endorsing the bail out.

  4. KT, you're making my point. McCain (Maverick) had a chance to liberate himself from the "brand" of the Party as it is now understood and he failed.

    It was almost heroic. "Heroic" would have meant standing athwart this debacle and yelling "Stop!"