Wednesday, June 11

Some choice!


On the one hand, he projects himself as the great conciliator. He uses the metaphor of his race to argue that he is uniquely suited to bridge differences between liberals and conservatives, young and old, rich and poor -- to craft a new centrist politics. On the other hand, his actual agenda is highly partisan and undermines many of his stated goals. He wants to stimulate economic growth, but his hostility toward trade agreements threatens export-led growth (which is now beginning). He advocates greater energy independence but pretends this can occur without more domestic drilling for oil and natural gas.

All this reflects Obama's legislative record. From 2005 to 2007, he voted with his party 97 percent of the time, reports the Politico. But Obama's clever campaign strategy would put him in a bind as president. Championing centrism would disappoint many ardent Democrats. Pleasing them would betray his conciliating image. The fact that he has so far straddled the contradiction may confirm his political skills and the quiet aid received from the media, which helped him by virtually ignoring the blatant contradictions.

...He strikes me as a super-successful graduate student: the brightest, quickest, most articulate guy in the seminar. In his career, he has advanced mainly by talking and writing -- not doing -- and may harbor a delusion common to the well-educated: that he can argue and explain his way around any problem.


And McCain?

He has often defied Republican-party orthodoxy, and his credentials to lead a centrist coalition are stronger than Obama's. According to the Politico, he sided with his party only 83 percent of the time from 2005 to 2007. Even in this election year, he has taken unpopular positions. Note his criticism of farm subsidies, which won't help him in the Midwest. The trouble with McCain is that he often mistakes stubbornness for principle.

He has a hard time changing his mind, even when the evidence overwhelmingly suggests he's wrong. He has stuck with "campaign finance reform" despite its dismal record. After three decades, it has entangled political campaigns in rules and paperwork without solving any notable problem (for example, people continue to believe that wealthy "special interests" have too much influence). On immigration, he still does not grasp what I think is the actual problem: not illegal immigration so much as too many poor and unskilled immigrants, whether legal or illegal. Like Obama, he seems oblivious to the possible unintended consequences of endorsing an anti-global warming "cap-and-trade" program.

Steadfastness and good judgment are qualities we value in a president, and McCain has often displayed these. He was early and correct in his criticism of the Bush administration's conduct of the Iraq War and of its treatment of prisoners. He has been consistent in his opposition to high and wasteful federal spending. But good judgment must accompany steadfastness, and there are enough instances of McCain's bad judgment to make you wonder which would prevail.

All very cogent, except for Samuelson's nonsense about "too many poor and unskilled immigrants, whether legal or illegal".

As Donald J. Boudreaux wrote:
I'll bet $100 that, regardless of which candidate wins the White House, in 2013 the federal budget will still contain agricultural subsidies and tariffs that take billions of dollars from the many to give to the few - that a majority of Members of Congress will continue to successfully sponsor earmarks - that the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare will be no smaller than they are today - and that partisan bickering will be every bit as much a part of the daily news as it is now.

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