Monday, February 11, 2008

Good Criticism and Bad Criticism

Let's start with the Bad Criticism first - specifically Paul Greenburg's latest article defending John McCain against the Conservative Pundits. In this he takes on Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and others for attacking McCain. Coulter gets quite the treatment, being described as the "certified banshee of the American right." Anyway he says that they don't like McCain because he thinks for himself.
That's the trouble with John McCain; he's always been his own man. He just will not go along with the party line, anybody's party line. He's always given his interrogators a hard time, refusing to break no matter what blandishments, punishments or calumnies are applied.

Sure, the man may get things done - like finding a way to get conservative judges confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He may even prefer fixing a system that's broken - like our immigration "system" - rather than just griping about it. And if he's proving right about the war in Iraq or on terror in general, well, that scarcely makes up for his unmitigated independence.
I don't think this is entirely fair to the Conservative Critics of McCain, Coulter aside. Limbaugh, Hannity and the others have an idea of how conservatives should act, the principles they should espouse, the programs they should enact. McCain has, in a number or cases, acted outside these parameters, or even in opposition to what Limbaugh et al would consider Conservative principles. It's not surprising that they aren't keen on him.

That said, Greenburg certainly has a point when he notes that the Republican base clearly has a different idea about McCain's qualifications. I mean for all the talk about the party elite shoving McCain down the throat of the Republican party, that wouldn't be possible if the voters were voting for another candidate.

All this shouldn't be construed as support for McCain. I think there is clearly some valid criticism of him and his performance, and for a sample, let's check in with Glenn Greenwald.
Conventional media wisdom is already solidifying that John McCain's greatest political asset is national security. This is a completely bizarre proposition given that there is no politician who has been more mindlessly supportive than McCain of endless war in Iraq, one of America's most unpopular wars in its history. Only in Media World could undying support for an extremely unpopular war be considered a political asset.

Beyond Iraq, McCain is as pure a warmonger as it gets in the American political mainstream. He is supported by the most extreme neoconservative ideologues, such as Bill Kristol, John Bolton and Joe Lieberman, precisely because they perceive, correctly, that he would be the candidate most likely to enable their paramount dreams of endless Middle East war. The virtual certainty that McCain will ensure the endless occupation of Iraq and, worse, will inevitably provoke more American wars, ought to be considered his greatest political liability, not his greatest asset.
Greenwald's larger point can be scene here; Democrats should stop being afraid to call McCain's plans for occupying the middle east more or less indefinately what they are, insane. The American people are not fans of the Iraq war and would not be fans of further military adventurism over there. McCain is the candidate most likely to expand our military adventures in the middle east. So tell the American people that.

But that has not been the Democratic Way. Rather we continue to pretend like Republicans are "Strong" on defense and foreign policy, despite the fact that their programs have been moral and practical disasters and proven terribly unpopular with the American people.

So to sum up, the fact that some Right Wing Pundits don't like McCain doesn't change the fact that he'd be an awful and dangerous President.

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